“We need to strengthen such inner values as contentment, patience and tolerance, as well as compassion for others. Keeping in mind that it is expressions of affection rather than money and power that attract real friends, compassion is the key to ensuring our own well-being.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV
The Dalai Lama’s statement is true at both the individual and collective levels. If we are to move forward as humanity, we will have to find ways to be together which are life-affirming, sustainable, and imbued with wisdom. Finding our way forward in the face of so many challenges (climate collapse, racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, rogue capitalism, and so on) seems daunting as people harden their worldviews and so often demonize those who see things differently. Polarization is increasing in many places resulting in greater difficulties in connecting across divisions of value systems.
What separates us is our fear and ignorance – of ourselves and of one another. What separates us is our response to our woundedness and the sensitive emotional (and sometimes physical) scar tissue which we have developed, too often making us blind defenders of our worldviews. We so often fail to see that our knowledge is always limited and at least a little bit misinformed, and this is true of those with opposite worldviews as well. At a minimum, we need more self-awareness so that we can at least see others more clearly and less as reflections of our own repressed energies.
To have compassion is to see from Oneness, to feel genuine empathy for others, to practice ongoing forgiveness of self and others, to hold others harmless and to wish them well, despite our disagreements. It does not mean that we let others harm us, in fact, people who are self-compassionate do not abuse others and they REFUSE TO BE ABUSED themselves. Until we develop self-compassion, our sense of connection to others will be but a projection from a wounded self – and not very substantial.
“You have to do the work to develop real empathy. There’s a cost to evolving: if you want your soul to cross the line, there’s no way around emotional work. Face that deep pain, and you gain tremendous compassion for yourself. You feel compassion for those who have hurt you because they were hurt themselves. To really make yourself available to consciously create a new future, you have to do that work.”
~ Bruce Sanguin
I am currently in the final month of a nine-month program, teaching a group of private students what I call “metaphysical psychology.” A key element of the program is a deep dive into Shadow and emotional work. There is no coming to consciousness without this kind of work. Sorry, but that is the case. Deep spiritual work is essential to deal with our inevitable sense of being wounded in our lives. Until we heal our emotional selves, we will project our fears, hurt, and anger onto others, making compassion impossible and prolonging our state of human conflict. Giving the benefit of the doubt does not release one from accountability, it simply acknowledges our humanness.
Forgiveness is an essential element for developing compassion. Ongoing, daily, moment-by-moment forgiveness of self and others is a practice worth pursuing. Again, this does not mean a denial of accountability, but it does mean a refusal to diminish self or others with guilt and shame. Being at our best means being in a state of forgiveness. Otherwise, we continue to project our woundedness onto others.
We are not, at base, malevolent creatures, although when wounded, or when our sense of desperation exceeds our understanding of our true nature, we can act in malevolent ways. When we are healed and when we are compassionate, malevolent actions are impossible. The saying “hurt people hurt people” rings very true in this regard. We can do our best to express love and compassion to all, and we can learn to be unattached to how they respond. True compassion is never conditional. It is our natural way of being, given freely, without regard to its acceptance. The work is getting back to that primal state which exists within us, just below the scar tissue. It awaits us patiently as we do our work. It is the process of remembering who we really are and our true nature.
Have compassion for everyone you meet
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
~ Miller Williams, “Compassion in The Ways We Touch”
Developing the awareness that human dysfunction is not a natural state, but the result of fear, ignorance, and wounding is a rare quality in today’s world. It is, of course, also a way that we are given opportunities to learn and grow – but we must respond positively to those opportunities. Most people see behavior as a direct indication of who a person is, rather than the result of how the person has integrated their experiences into a personality. When we KNOW that there is a compassionate being in there beneath the fear and wounding, we can more easily be empathetic ourselves. Once we have developed true compassion, we will do this automatically and speak to the compassionate being inside the other person. This may be disconcerting to them, and it may also influence that aspect of the other person to come closer to the surface.
“Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers.”
~ Susan Sontag
Acting from compassion, even when automatic, can be frightening. Compassion leads us places where the guarded and comfortable will not go. It sees through appearances of fear and ignorance more easily, and it calls us to action rather than to complacency. It requires regular practices to keep it in mind and heart.
To be godlike, to imitate Christ, to express Buddha consciousness, to be true to Islamic principles, and to embody the Science of Mind all require one to develop compassion. It is both the root and the destination of all spiritual practices across faith traditions. It is also the goal of the atheist. It is our ultimate destination as human beings. Today, humanity is calling out for compassion, but mostly unknowingly. We arm our nations’ militaries and reinforce our personal inner departments of defense (anger, hatred, buying weapons) when what we really want is to live in compassionate societies. In our ignorance and fear, we so often do exactly the opposite from what we need to do. If we really want #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone, we must do better.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
~ Dalai Lama XIV
Only those with the awareness of these truths will seek out their expression. So, if you are aware, you have an assignment – find your compassion, first for yourself and then for others. Do your spiritual work, daily and minute-by-minute. This is not just to be happy, but to be happy, fulfilled, and a contributor to the greater good. Become who you came into this incarnation to be and be a true force for expanded love and compassion in our world. Spirit has your back.
“When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”
~ Pema Chödrön
Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard
Register now for this great conference in Geneva this August!
A Pathway to Growth and Transformation
Lisa Ferraro and I are keynote presenters and there will be wonderful workshops from international presenters all in a gorgeous setting on Lake Geneva in view of the Alps!
LINK to info and registration: https://www.icsl-geneva.com/