Spiritual texts are consistently telling us we should value living a compassionate life. But what is it to live a compassionate life? How does one become compassionate? What is the real value of compassion?
The energy of compassion is one of love, acceptance, non-judgment, allowance and interconnection. It is the ability to hold another person in your heart, with love and acceptance, while allowing them to go through what ever it is they are experiencing without having to fix them, judge them, or judge their experience.
Compassion comes from the heart; it arises without warning and almost always comes without forethought. It is a natural state. You can’t fake compassion, nor is it something you control; yet you can cultivate it. It can be experienced as a feeling or an emotion, yet it is of a higher nature that is difficult to express in words. It is not sympathy as much as a benevolent feeling that is often triggered through empathy. Empathy being the ability to feel a person’s pain or experience his or her emotional or mental state.
We act out of compassion, but compassion is not an act. It is a feeling or emotion that arises out of the understanding of our interconnectedness. If we take action because we experience compassion, we are taking action out of a selfless expression of love.
When we express compassion for others, we are offering them the same love, acceptance non-judgment, and allowance that we would like for ourselves. It is that sense of interconnection that allows our compassion to grow. If we are unable to feel connected to a person in some way, we would not be able to feel compassion for him or her. There is a deep, often unconscious knowledge of this interconnection and that what ever happens to one of us, in reality, happens to us all.
The value of living a truly compassionate life is that it brings this understanding of our interconnectedness into our awareness on a conscious level. When we truly understand our interconnectedness through experiencing compassion, we become better humans. It is harder to get angry with someone or to be judgmental of others. It is harder to ignore someone’s rights or to harm the ecology. We begin to live our life from a larger perspective than ‘how does this affect me?’ When this happens our choices start to reflect what is better for the greater good of all concerned and this is a large step on our spiritual journey.
We become better humans when we truly experience our actions to others becoming actions toward our own self. The mystics’ journey reflects this shift from self-centeredness to a more altruistic view when they say seekers, who have rejected the negative and adopted the positive traits, advance to a place of peace where nothing in the outer world disturbs them, called by Evagrius of Ponticus, Apatheia. They are ready for the next step in the journey to spiritual maturity. Living a life of compassion helps take us through that step in the journey, which is why spiritual teachings tell us compassion is so important.
This in turn cultivates an even deeper level of compassion, which brings one more point about compassion. If we could be as compassionate toward ourselves as we are with others, we could bring that gift of non-judgment, love, acceptance, and allowance into our own lives. What a gift!
If you wish to cultivate compassionate and begin living a truly compassionate life, practice empathic exercises such as people watching or reading autobiographies. Imagine that person’s experience is happening to you.
Then, as if you are going through his or her experience, ask yourself,
As the expression goes: Walk a mile in my shoes to know who I am. Being Compassionate requires you allow yourself to BE the other person without judging him or her or the experience he or she is having. When you get a chance, take sometime to just people watch. Imagine what it would be like to be that person. What are they feeling? Experiencing? What hard choices do they need to make? Feel love for them and their experience while maintaining a space of non-judgment. Don’t forget to be compassionate for yourself as well. Living a compassionate life may just change how you choose to live your life.
Cindy Griffith, Psychic, Spiritual Development Teacher, Blogger, and Author of Soul Soothers: Mini Meditations for Busy Lives is excited about her new book, co-authored with Lisa K., Grow Your Spiritual Business, coming Fall 2015. Cindy teaches throughout the US and Tokyo. Find more about Cindy, her articles, books and meditation CDs, and Psychic readings at http://www.CindyGriffith.com and http://goo.gl/QOzET