Sunday 12-29-13 Learning Compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~ Dalai Lama
Happy Sunday!
Since writing last week that the answer to my question on how to help others was love and compassion I have been thinking about what compassion is all week.  God has graced me with many insights this week on the lesson.
I thought about the times I have shown compassion to others and when I have not.  I know I have provided true compassion when my heart has felt open and I spoke truthfully from it.  As I wrote last week, I can feel when my heart is closed and I sense I am not offering anything to the other.
I considered the times when compassion has flowed from me, these have been times when I have experienced what the other is experiencing such as the loss of a loved one or the struggles of motherhood.  I learned from others who showed me compassion during the times following Dad’s and Donna’s passing how to show love and sympathy.  Also, I have compassion for women who are mothers struggling with young children as I know they have given up themselves to give to their family.
But there is so much pain out in the world that I have, fortunately, not experienced. I know that I have sheltered myself from knowing and feeling the pain that others may carry.  I think that my heart is restricted from opening so that I may offer true compassion as I don’t know and understand this pain.
As I came to this realization I thought about the story of the Buddha as compassion is the primary message of this aspect of our Lord.  I thought of how, after his life as a sheltered prince, he gave it all up and went through years of poverty, hunger, and suffering to obtain enlightenment.  I am thinking the years of struggle were to give him the insight into others’ struggles so that he could understand compassion. (I just felt the chills!)  Perhaps he felt what I feel when he first observed people in poverty, that is a closed heart and a want to understand.
So, without having to go out and experience the suffering as the Buddha did, Ican ask for a deeper perspective of the other person from the Holy Spirit.  A section of ACIM that I read early this week spoke of this, about how we can ask for help in understanding, “I want another way to look at this.” (CH30:I)
Joel Osteen also spoke this morning about letting go of hurt you feel that is caused by another by considering where they were at the time.  For those that feel their parents didn’t give them what they needed he said “perhaps your mother gave all she had to give, perhaps your father did the best he knew how.”  Joel was speaking to people to help them let go of hurt they have been carrying but I saw the lesson as a tool for compassion.
There is the old adage on empathy that says to “walk a mile in another man’s shoes”; I have let my thoughts go down this path this week to try to better understand what others may be feeling and I find it works.  My heart opens and compassion is there when I let myself try to understand their hurts and fears.
My reading this morning in ACIM talked about “justification for forgiveness” saying that to just forgive what is unforgivable is not right.  That we need to understand that there is error there so we can forgive rightly.  (CH30:VI)  As I read this I came to realize that as Jesus in ACIM is speaking about forgiveness being the path to salvation this is the same lesson on compassion by the Buddha.  Forgiveness with understanding is compassion!
So I am happy to have tools now to better understand and offer help to others.  I can use my mind and my body to aid my heart.  I can use my imagination to feel the emotions I might have if I were dealing with another’s experiences.  Then my heart will know the hurt and feel compassion for their pain.
Can I put all this into practice?
Am I brave enough?
I have faith and trust in the Holy Spirit to support me.  I just need to stay connected and ask for the help.
It is only by making our knowledge part of ourselves, through action, that we enter into the reality that is signified by our concepts. ~ Thomas Merton

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