Blog 8: Fearless Compassion

Compassion has become more important to me over the years because I see so much fear in our culture. I see compassion as the opposite of fear. “Unfortunately, dualistic and oppositional energies cannot bring the change we so desperately need; we cannot fight angry power with more angry power. Only the contemplative mind has the ability to hold the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be.” (R. Rohr from a 2016 unpublished letter posted in Daily Meditations on July 10, 2018.)

Fear is suffering.  Fear as an underlying motive for action and decisions creates more suffering.  Fear-based beliefs inhibit our vision of a world of dignity and respect where the Core Self, one with the God of Infinite Love and Compassion, sees and identifies with the Core Self in you.   This is my “I have a Dream” speech where hearts and minds are creatively “for” a life-giving vision rather than a life of fear and opposition. Are we calling forth life and what is life-giving or are we reacting to a life we are afraid to live?

Each of us has a call, a vocation, to live from our Core Self created in the image of God.  We all have well-developed Constructed Selves, the ego that interfaces with the world around us, and this may be healthy or wounded, but we are called to live from our Core Self as well.  We can get so caught up in the Constructed or False Self that we think that is all there is.  As I’ve said in earlier blogs I use Constructed Self to get away from the idea of a false or bad, egoic self. This Constructed Self does not have the power to separate us from the Core Self one with God but our Constructed Self can seem so real at times that we forget that Divine Love lives inside us.

Can we live out of our Core Self today and call that forth from one another?  Rather than spend our time and energy focused on what is bad and what we are opposed to or afraid of, can we work to create environments that call forth the compassionate self?  We can identify with our Core Self, see with Christ consciousness, and live a life of compassion. This is how compassion is an agent of transformation—the transformation of our heart, mind and life.

Compassion is not a feeling.

Blog 6: Compassion is not a feeling

Compassion is not a feeling, yet we may have feelings and emotions while in the midst of its awareness. I find that the tender/kind aspect of compassion does create warm feelings inside me but that is not its motivation.  Yes, compassion is a motivation not a feeling[1].  It is a manifestation of the divine spark within us. Feelings too often are egocentric rather than a joining with and manifesting the divine spark in our daily lives. This is why compassion can be a way of life, a way of being in our daily lives.  It becomes the manifestation of all we do.

Even saying that, I know that we get distracted from this motivation.  In western culture we are very focused on the individual.  Our first response to everything tends to be, “what impact will this have on me and mine?” We are conditioned into this from a very early age.  When compassion is our motivation it asks more of us. It asks us to be aware of our competing motivations and to have the courage to choose compassion even in difficult circumstances.  Jesus tells us to “Love our enemies,”[2]  and to “Love our neighbor as ourselves,”[3] yet this is very different from the dominant values and motivations in our culture and as humans it seems to be weaned out of us.

Yet, every religion has some language that encourages the follower to love their neighbor.  Since it is such a dominant theme it must be possible for us to live compassionately.  In order to set out on the Path of Compassion, one must first be aware and conscious of how often we are not compassionate; not as a way to judge ourselves or create shame, but to see the opportunities when we can choose a compassionate response.  If you’ve ever wanted, like me, to be “non-judgmental” isn’t it amazing how it seems like all we do is judge! Yet, this is the silver lining of the cloud, to have the gift of sight so that one can see a way forward.  Even to consider that there is a different response, a response of compassion, in any situation is a step on the path.

This week let us pause and consider our motivations.  Is it an egocentric motivation or is another option available to us? And in this step, practice compassion for all our wayward ways knowing that God writes straight with crooked lines.[4]

 

 

[1] Gilbert, P.  and Choden (2014) Mindful Compassion. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, p. 59.

[2] Luke 6:27

[3] Mark 12:31

[4] Attributed as an old Portuguese saying; I first became aware of this through a talk given by James Finley, Ph.D.

Courageous Compassion Part 2

Blog 5: Courageous Compassion Part 2: Enlightened Power

The courageous or fierce compassion was the most difficult facet of compassion for me to learn, since there is so much more to say I decided to write a second entry.  It does require effort to coalesce fierce with wisdom and tenderness. Jesus provides many examples of this when he interacted with others in the Gospels and today I will highlight a few, including his temptation in the desert; clearing the temple; and casting the demons into the pigs.

Both Matthew and Luke[1] record the temptation of Jesus after his baptism.  The devil tempted Jesus with appeals to his ego (humanness) with food, power and authority, and a challenge to prove Scripture.  Jesus denied the appeals to his ego and responded fiercely and with clarity.  He demonstrated the need to set boundaries on our egocentricity.  He responded from his core self one with God.

We have another example in the Gospels when Jesus cleared the temple are of those who were selling God.[2] Here we see Jesus’ single-minded determination to remove any obstacle to God.

I’ve never felt quite right about the pigs dying once Jesus cast the demons out of the men and into the swine[3].  What I see in this example is the courage and fierceness needed in the service of redemption and restoration.  This is not meant to justify violent action taken over the centuries in the name of salvation; most often that is fear and power rather than divine love.  Rather this story is one of many healing stories in Matthew 8.  Divine Love heals and restores with enlightened power, not with fear and egocentricity.  Sometimes we are called to do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do to live with integrity and divine love.

The key to fierceness when living a life of compassion is that it is born of love for the other and what is most beneficial.  It is fierceness of the heart.  Any transformation process requires this “fierceness.”   Out of the deepest ground of our being arises an awareness that another is being hurt, or hurting, and there is something that we can do about it.  The fierceness of the heart requires that we do what we can to alleviate suffering.  This is the primary motivation behind fierce compassion.  It is strength born of love, not anger or egocentricity.

 

[1] Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

[2] Mark 11:15-17; Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19:45-46.

[3] Matthew 8:28-32