Compassion - what is it, and how do we do it? Compassion is a function of the heart and mind. It is understanding another person and his or her situation from his or her point of view. It is listening and observing with 100 percent of your being, with your heart, without judgment - using no filters, no colored glasses, no perspectives, and no agendas. Compassion is the vehicle by which we encounter and truly comprehend the interconnectedness of all things. It is the core of our unity.
However, compassion is not just a passive emotional state, but can be a call to action, a motivation for transformation. Compassion is active love, or as the Dali Lama would say, loving kindness. But what does compassion look like? Well, it can appear as a mother encircling a hurt child in her arms, a friend hugging you when you're down, the tender touch of a nurse easing your pain or the kind words or actions of a stranger. Compassion is donating your time and money to feed the hungry and sick, to clothe an orphaned child. It's volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, taking in a foster child, or working in hospice and helping people in times of misfortune.
Compassion is also becoming aware of global issues that affect all of us and our planet. Compassion may be consciously taking action on a personal, political, or even spiritual level. On the personal level, we can "green" our lifestyles by doing things like recycling more, walking or riding more and driving less, cutting down on our use of energy, buying organic foods or planting a tree or a vegetable garden - in general, simplifying our lives. It is a reminder that our worth comes not from the amount of our involvement, achievements, or possessions, but from the depth and caring which we bring to each moment, place and person in our lives.
On the spiritual level, we can meditate and pray, putting our thoughts and energy out into the cosmos for the healing of persons, places and situations and for the bringing into being of material and immaterial desires.
But compassion can also mean living a life of compassionate spirituality, in which we act as if all beings are one and all things are divine. There is no difference between what we have, what we are or what we do - eating, sweeping the floor, and praying are all equally revered. If life is sacred, then living it in all of its aspects is also sacred. The highest state of being is the one in which a person is neither the doer nor the instrument of doing, neither the action being done nor the essence of it, but where all are one in the divine - love, lover and beloved. Compassion is experiencing all of life as sacred and interrelated. God is compassion and love. We can let God's love and compassion work through us, to heal us, so that we can realize that we are whole and thereby able to express our oneness, our divinity, and our compassion toward another. And, we are here to help one another. We can express compassion for ourselves and others by beginning to heal our hearts. We're all healers by birthright, just as we are divine, compassionate beings. And so, with the love and compassion of Spirit, we can be healers of our hearts. But what else do we need to be "healers"? We need three things:
Intent - our desire and willingness to serve
Access - our openness to receiving Universal Life Force, Spirit, God's Love
Focus - being present, here, now.
With these requirements in mind, you can do a "heart healing" exercise at home, with a partner or by yourself. Just allow yourself to slip into that deep expanding meditative space using your breath, grounding and centering your being in the reflection of love. Place your hands over your heart and envision yourself surrounded by God's love. By invoking Spirit and by focusing on being totally present, you allow God's love and compassion to permeate your being and heal your heart.
Compassion - what is it? It's an opening of our hearts towards ourselves and others with the realization of the interconnectedness of all, the sacredness of all and the interdependence of all. It's a consciousness that we are whole. It's an understanding that what we do for ourselves we do for others and what we do for others we ultimately do for ourselves. Compassion is a transformation into awareness. It's a letting go of apathy, withdrawal and denial and an embracing of kindheartedness; it's living fully a sacred and spiritually unlimited life.
Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.