Reconciling Peace and Compassion
by Kathy Custren
We may consider that it is a good thing to bring different sides together in peace and unity, to strive to come to common ground of understanding. What of ourselves? How many of us yearn for the larger vision of 'world peace' without barely looking within to figure this out on a personal level? If we consider ourselves compassionate, have we taken a good look at the energies at play in our own body? Do we truly understand, and are we at peace with them completely?
This particular day has me thinking about Saint Francis of Assisi, who relates to many of us on a spiritual level because of his legacy of love to animals and his prayer of being an actively peaceful person. This further calls to mind the role of a Bodhisattva, which is a term for a person (male or female) who is tapped into living a compassionate life of service. Granted, the two spiritual entities and ideals are from two different world religions, and they pose some significant questions:
Are the two spiritual energies, of peace and compassion, very different? How can we reconcile the two, peace and compassion, in our lives? How do we express “peace” in a world that can be so chaotic on any given day? We all seem to recognize peace, do we not?
To achieve the bodhicitta condition through the Buddhist path, the individual lessons have a nine-fold aspect to them that must be realized. It may be helpful for any of us to work on them as we strive for the inner peace we seek. The benefits of bodhicitta, the wish to reach full enlightenment for others, are:
Adopting the Spirit of Enlightenment: Recognizing our goal of enlightenment and actively choosing to live life in awareness of all within us, which we may call good and bad; and taking on those better, lighter, peaceful qualities, and helping to bring those out in others. Actively being a light of peace and compassion takes a bit of effort and willingness.
Using Conscientiousness: Recognizing and using our conscience in a way that it brings awareness to our lives in an active way. Reconciling the differences that we consciously find within ourselves and our relationships with other beings. Consciously seek peace and compassion in every aspect of our lives.
Guarding Awareness: Once we actively live consciously, doing what we must to maintain that level of consciousness and awareness. Do we feel when our life is working right, that things feel balanced and our feelings are equanimous? It does take work to achieve peace and compassion, and to discipline ourselves against the easiness of letting our awareness go back in a downward spiral, where we might lose that frequency of peace.
Practicing Patience: This sounds easy, but honesty recognizes patience as being a challenge for many of us, who are conditioned in our various circumstances to get instant answers and move along at faster speeds and over greater distances. That we can achieve greatness in any respect is a wonderful goal; practicing the patience to get there may be another thing entirely. This alone can take some work, to reconcile in our lives, especially for those of us who may be ruled by the clock instead of seeing the timeless nature of our larger, more spiritual picture. Achieve a balance of peace and compassion for ourselves and others by...being patient.
Practicing Joyous Effort: How many of us exist where life is a daily drudge? It is an active choice to choose joy...to recognize what makes us happy and infuses us with delight and positive energy. We may realize that actively choosing joyous efforts can be just as much work as practicing patience, and that it may not come quickly enough. We might seek to find some peace and compassion by balancing some of the drudgery in life with increasing amounts of creative time, doing something that helps us give back and help others, in line with our greater goal of service. Rather than just settling in for an evening of passive television, get together with others and be in that higher state of joy. There are many who find ways to balance the things they “must do” with the things they “want to do.” Crafts, singing, drum circles, dancing, or serving an hour or two in a soup kitchen are all very valid ways of practicing positivity.
Practicing Meditative Concentration: We do not know until we see, and seeing takes looking. Meditation is that state of mind where we take the time to look within. Here is where the real recognition and reconciliation can take place. Making the effort and taking the time to focus, even for a few minutes each day, helps to keep us on track in our ways of both peace and compassion.
Perfecting Wisdom: Attaining wisdom is a positive goal. But, like any truth, wisdom is a constantly changing construct that requires continual attention. It is very much like verifying what you know, or checking your answers after a test. It is great to finally understand something or someone; and, some may say, especially ourselves. So, now that we “know,” what are we going to “do” with it? Is that “it,” or is there more we can possibly know and understand? How has our new knowledge changed what we knew before now? Yes, more work is definitely involved here, to reconcile being in both states of peace and compassion in our daily lives.
Dedication: The ultimate state of peace and compassion in the Bodhisattva way is to dedicate one's self to it. Actively choosing to live in a peaceful and compassionate way can, itself, be a way of life for many people. Quite a few manage to live a life of peace and compassion along with everything they do. Or, as teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, describes, “Peace is every step.” Simply put, a life dedicated to peace does bring it into being.
May we all seek to reconcile peace and compassion. The world we leave will be better for our efforts, every step of the way. ~ Namaste ~ Blessings!
About the Author
Kathy Custren, OMTimes Senior Editor, is a mother of four, who strives for balance and has a deep respect for All. Interests include education, elements, nature, humanity's cosmic origins, philosophy, spirituality, and wellness. Connect with her community page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook, and tune in to “What is Going OM?” on OMTimes Radio.
Link to Prayer of St. Francis: http://www.bradgarbus.com/_/rsrc/1322057078073/Religion/saint-franc...
Link to Wikipedia page for more information on the Bodhisattva teaching: