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Jan 07, 2019 15:18:18

Compassion is a muscle.

by @kp PATRON | 494 words | 🐣 | 36💌


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This might come off crazy to you all but that’s on me.

I have been reflecting and it occurred to me how hard it is to actually be compassionate.

No, I’m not talking about giving a few bucks to your favorite charity during holidays or tipping a graceful waiter generously. The real compassion.

Let’s separate this from traditional generosity which is still great but our focus here is non-monetary kindness or let’s call it “emotional compassion.”

Emotional Compassion, the way I would define, is recognizing someone has made (is still making!) a mistake and yet choosing to be kinder to them because you know what they are going through.

Really? How do we know what they are going through?

Think for yourself carefully. The answer is easy. Recall the last time you were upset furiously on something trivial. Was it fun? I bet if you watched your video footage of these moments after the fact, you would completely feel embarrassed about your almost delusional behavior.

I have been there. Occasionally, a silly thing triggers me. For the next few moments or hours, I am pissed. I berate my judgement. I berate the universe’s negligence and of course over exaggerate my misery and dwell in a pity party. It’s no fun. The wiser “me” later reflects and feels embarrassed for what a little child I was being back in the moment.

So that’s the feeling someone else is going through as well. Their anger or frustration should not trigger you and instead evoke emotional compassion. However, the challenge is we are normally not trained on this muscle. At least I am not. And I want to fix that.

Our normal reaction is hardening our stance and arguing with them and pushing them further into defense mode. This happens because in that hot second, you are cherishing yourself a bit strongly too.

Forego feeling like you are the center of the universe for a second and truly try to understand and empathize with their pain. Real or imagine, pain is pain. You will then naturally develop compassion.

I would bet that if you are someone who has lived on the streets and experienced hunger yourself (at least for a brief period), you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself from donating to a charity in Africa as soon as you can financially afford.

In the same vein, the wiser you should “give love freely” to the unwise of the moment. Without any judgement or expectation of appreciation in return. This is true compassion.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. - Gandhi

“Hate the sin, love the sinner. “ Mahatma Gandhi

I fully acknowledge this is insanely hard because in the moment you are cherishing yourselves and triggered by the unfairness of the situation but hey I’ll say this again. It’s not always about you. Kick your self-cherishing out.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on this practice? Share your comments below.

  • 1

    @kp I love the workout metaphor! For me, I often liken it to a skill that needs practice to get better at it. Kinda like a craft, like cooking or baking - everyone can boil an egg but needs practice to cook food people love. Another one I hear often from my practice community is the gardening metaphor. Compassion is like gardening. You plant seeds of compassion with meditation, create conditions where it arises in daily life through serving, and tend to it in hope it'll bear fruit one day.

    Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jan 08, 2019 04:57:41
    • 1

      @jasonleow Thanks for reading and sharing your comment. I loved the analogy of planting seeds especially because that is how delicate and tender working on compassion feels.

      KP avatar KP | Jan 09, 2019 14:07:28
    • 1

      @kp Yes love the seeds metaphor. Not mine though...from my fav Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh https://plumvillage.org/books/planting-seeds/

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jan 09, 2019 16:05:29
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