VIRTUE Compassion


Compassion recognizes that pain is pain regardless of the circumstances.


I feel that compassion is the greatest teacher of love and happiness. This may sound strange when I tell you that compassion comes from the latin word meaning to suffer with. It is a mystery that the experience of suffering with someone brings happiness. But compassionate listening does melt hard thoughts and warms cold hearts. This can bring about understanding and inclusiveness. Buddha taught us that compassion crushes pain. It is still mysterious that feeling pain crushes pain. Compassion seems to transcend our sense of logic. Perhaps it is an intuitive experience. We may need to use our intuition to help us understand that compassion exists because suffering exists, that forgiveness exists because betrayal and trespass exist. Compassion is inherent in suffering as forgiveness is inherent in betrayal. Compassion is always present, maybe hidden, but always present.

Hate is the cause of great suffering. Compassion saves us from becoming haters and abusers. We forget the sorrow of being hated when we’re too busy hating. We forget the pain of humiliation when we’re laughing at someone else’s mistakes. We forget the sting of gossip when we’re the gossiper. We forget how mortifying it is to be on the wrong end of a joke when we’re caught up in arrogance. We forget bullying kills. Compassion remembers pain. It is medicinal. This medicine of remembering pain reminds us that we do not want to be the thing that nightmares are made of. We do not want to be the mean person, the bully, the arrogant knucklehead, or worse, much worse. Nobody wants to be hated. Even a person who is hating someone right now does not want to be the one who is hated. It goes against being a human being.

When the Compassionate One spoke those famous words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His heart was broken for those who were under the influence of hate. When compassion pierces the veil of darkness, we experience our own pain, as well as the pain of others. This is clarity, this is love. This is the moment when we realize that we do not want to be the creators of pain.

He also taught us to love our enemies. How is this even possible? At first glance it seems weak willed and counter intuitive. But He was the master of compassion. If this task were impossible He would never have uttered those words. The Buddha, the beautiful Buddha said, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Maybe, just maybe the enemy that needs to be loved, lives within. When we speak to ourself with disgust and disdain surely we will speak to others this way. The masters of love never taught us to hate ourself and love others. The beloved Sathya Sai Baba says, “Love all, serve all.” All means you too. Self compassion keeps us from abandoning ourself in times of crises. We may even be more present for others in their time of need without feeling put upon. Compassion is love and love is inner strength. Knowing that we can rely on ourself can make us very happy. Compassion is a mystery worth investigating. I hope you will ponder this month on how compassion mysteriously gives rise to understanding and how that understanding gives rise to great inner peace and great happiness.

Peace be with you. Namaste

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