Today Lori-Lyn Hurley invites us to consider COMPASSION.
I’m really liking this series of prompts as they’re such open invitations. I like approaching complex things that way, and the concepts Lori-Lyn is asking us to reflect on are complex and multi-layered.
It’s easy to assume we know what compassion is, and yet I think sometimes we have a need to clean up some of our thinking and language around this. Because the way I see compassion used and spoken about is often tinged with the energy of pity. And judgment. And perhaps even fear.
And I don’t believe that’s what compassion is truly about.
I think compassion is being affected by the suffering of others and moving on their behalf, because we recognize the unity of our us-ness, our all-ness.
There’s a wonderful practice I learned years ago called commonalities. I don’t know its origins, and I’ve seen it used in many different circumstances. For instance I know one person who uses it every time they need to have a difficult conversation or speak with someone they expect to have a challenge with. The idea is to focus on recognizing the commonalities you have with another, rather than looking at differences. While there are many ways to do this, I once saw it outlined with these questions and I’ve used it ever since:
- Just as I am, this person is seeking happiness in their life.
- Just as I am, this person is trying to avoid suffering in their life.
- Just as I am, this person is seeking to fill their needs.
- Just as I have, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.
- Just as I am, this person is learning about life.
This is the very beginning of a loving-kindness practice, invoking goodwill towards all beings. The Dalai Lama has said that “The true expression of non-violence is compassion.” And I think that’s a brilliant point.
I’ve shared this link a number of times but it’s worthy of multiple shares, so here it is again. A clip from Jennifer Berezan‘s album In These Arms – A Song for All Beings.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on compassion – please share.