Compassion and kindness integrally connect us to the ever expanding consciousness of the Source of Life living in us all. Here there’s a clarity that ‘sees through’ all the illusions and distractions that separate us from the ultimate state of Being, Belonging and Becoming. All religions in their basic teachings lean toward love which is not so much what we are called to do as it is ultimately who and what we truly are. St. Paul, the great apostle of Christianity directs us to “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” From an inner perspective this is all transformational, experiential and integral to abundant life.
As I reflect on these human/divine qualities I’m wondering how many of us actually deem them worthy of our attention, appreciation and engagement and if we do, where’s the starting point? Rumi said “When we practice loving, kindness and compassion we are the first ones to profit.” Do you agree with this? How do you practice loving, kindness and compassion toward yourself and others? This is a real question because I encounter people all the time in my practice who have a difficult time with loving, kindness and compassion for themselves and others. Could it be that it starts with knowing who you truly are?
When we have a difficult time bringing these qualities to others we all suffer alone together and wonder why there’s so much fragmentation in our world. Compassion comes from the Latin com-pati which means to bear with, to suffer with, to have a sympathetic consciousness of distress with a desire to alleviate it. Nelson Mandela says: “Our human compassion binds us one to the other, not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Have we really learned this? From my life experience it seems we’re only beginning to learn it and reluctantly. We still deny our suffering.
My sense is that we’re presently on a steep learning curve. Compassion, kindness, care and love entail both loss and gain. Surprisingly we need to experience what we don’t want before we can consciously know, ask for and embrace what we do want. Life experience brings this to us no matter who we are. Great love and great loss drop us deeply into the ecstasy and agony of what it is to be human. As we learn to embrace and process these thoughts and feelings rather than hide, repress and deny them; we find ways to integrate and grow beyond our aversion to them. We begin to see opportunities in the danger and difficulty.
What if the greatest danger in life is to simply not go on the adventure? What if we continually resist going beyond our comfort zones into the challenges of life? What do you think would happen? The reality of love and loss is part of life. The reality of pain and suffering is also part of life. With compassion and kindness for ourselves and others we experience healing and wholeness, caring and companionship within and without. As Mark Twain said: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Compassion is also the language that’s heard, seen, felt and known from soul to soul. It feeds the adventure of Life’s journey.
The wonder of compassion and kindness is the reciprocity of giving and receiving. In the giving we receive and in the receiving we give. Isn’t this the way of Life in everything? What we appreciate we grow and get more of. What we depreciate we grow and get more of. When you give compassion and kindness it first moves through you and you profit from it as well as the other. When you give judgement and distain it also moves through you and you suffer the loss as well as the other. This is part of what’s been called the law of attraction or the boomerang effect. When you give compassion and kindness relentlessly, your world is transformed.
We live in an interconnected universe where all of life is interactive and relational. We are part of an Infinite and Ineffable Being that is greater than the sum of its parts and also is in every part. We have an inner capacity to become aware of and co-create with this Life Source, Inner Being that flows in, among, around and through the whole of creation. We are both spirit and matter, duality and non duality, rational and trans-rational. Compassion and kindness are woven into our Design. Can you get still enough to feel it? Are you willing to trust enough to act upon it? How open are you to letting go of your resistance to it? Is your heart smiling yet?
- Take a moment and visualize what compassion and kindness look like to you. It could be a simple smile, visiting a friend or loved one, giving socks to a homeless person, opening a door for a mother with child, reading a story to someone. Now feel the common union, the bond, the opening and trust, the warmth in your heart. Feel the mutual benefit, the flow of it . . .
- Reflect on a time in your life where you experienced great love. What are the feelings, the movements, the senses that come to you? Sit quietly with these images and ponder the gifts and teachings you received and are now receiving concerning deep love . . .
- Do the same reflection where you experienced great loss. Feel the depth of the loss, the emptiness and also the eventual gift within that loss. Explore the insights of this experience and what you gained from them. If there’s still unresolved conflict, bring compassion to it. Give yourself permission to explore with an open heart. Allow kindness and understanding to heal any wounds by identifying with the other. See the gain in the loss through lovingkindness . . .
- Now look within at love and loss together. Feel the compassion and kindness that’s present. Feel the peace of the special moments, the softness, the gentleness, the intimacy and grace. Allow the appreciation for all these emotions to wash over you. Sense the well-being that is here for you because of the depth of your experiences. What is this moment now asking of you? What are you now asking of this moment? How does compassion and kindness fit in?