Compassion

This is a response to Jan Stewart’s excellent post the other day, and stems from many conversations I’ve been lucky enough to share with her over our journey.

Since Mindful I’ve been percolating on a few different lines of thought. You can see some of the things I took away from Mindful in the immediate moments after the event in my post I wrote the week after. Since then, I’ve begun considering some ideas on a deeper level, and one of those is Compassion.

Breakfast coffees

But what is compassion? Why is it important? And so what? To me, compassion is about transcending the way we colloquially define it. Compassion has always been, to me, something that you were able to give people in a very limited way. My definition was probably closer to the idea of ‘passion.’

The way the Dalai Lama, and others, seem to define it has a much broader meaning. They talk about it as moving to a place where you respect and appreciate all human kind as equals. Where you find the space to connect with people on the most basic of all levels – the fact that we are all human on this earth and that we share that experience amongst (almost) 7 Billion people today.

In my own practice during this past month, I’ve learned to respect myself a lot more. I’ve been stretching more and generally looking after my own health. I’ve also really found myself to be more accommodating of others, where as perhaps I would be more negative about a particular situation. I’ve really focused on taking a more open mind into my dealings with others, and trying to focus my inner monologue on meeting them at a human level.

How have you engaged in compassion? Is this is all new to you? Have you engaged in practising compassion in your life?

8 thoughts on “Compassion”

  1. Compassion, and for that matter all the different ways we relate to people is something that I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about.Here are my latest thoughts http://wp.me/pYr4c-en wrapped around indifference.

    What I’ve realised is, most of the ways we deal with people have negative impacts unless we come from a place of empathy or compassion. Sadly at times we’re unable to help people so we have to just allow things to be. That’s empathy for their suffering whereas other times we can help, that’s compassion.

    But always the decisions need to be made without thought to anything other than what is appropriate now.

  2. Dear Steve (and Jan) 
    I loved reading this and Jan’s post over here http://janstewart.com.au/ too.  Thankyou. I think when I was in the early part of my career I may have been capable of recognising compassion as a quality in others – certainly not in myself.  And I’m not sure I could have given it a name, until much later on when I learned the traditions of Tibetan buddhism and read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  I practiced intermittently – it was another layer of meditation for me – although I didn’t realise its impact until my father and husband were both diagnosed with cancer.  That book then became precious, guiding us through a practice called Tonglen (giving and receiving) to release “the healing energies of wisdom and compassion”.  It was so simple, powerful, natural and easy.  It dramatically altered my own perspective – and I do believe theirs and those around us – exposing us all to a deep experience of unconditional love.  It was quite beautiful and the same practice has become a part of my own journey – a reminder to maintain an open heart. Sogyal Rinpoche, who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, calls compassion “the wish-fulfilling jewel”.  “In our tradition” he wrote, “we see compassion as the source and essence of enlightenment, and the heart of enlightened activity.”  Namaste :) 

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Suzie. I’m going to attempt reading The
      Tibetan Book of Living and Dying again soon. I’ll definitely seek to chat to
      you about it!

  3. What a delightful discovery, thanks to Peter. I am writing a book on etiquette and compassion and how interlinked the two are. I discuss this in my writings, my radio chats and TV shows as well. I think compassion is arguably the biggest missing link in Western society today and what we need to really bring peace, both inward and outward to the planet we are blessed to live upon and steward.

  4. The Latte Art of Compassion. Great picture and it is now one of my all time favourite pictures and everyday practicing compassionism.  

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