February: Compassion – Karuna

As we forge ahead in 2020 to February, the month of Love, we are persuaded by its mysticism to devote our monthly theme to “compassion”.

But how are love and compassion related?

 In his book The compassionate Life, the Dalai Lama explains in simple terms that “compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings, that give rise to essential things in life such as hope, courage, determination and inner strength. In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are seen as two aspects of same thing: compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness”.

But what exactly is compassion?

According to Tibetan Buddhism, the term for compassion is “nying je”, which the Dalai Lama states, “connotes love, affection, kindness, gentleness, generosity of spirit and warm-heartedness”.  So, compassion is a state of love and caring, that we share with others. But we also need to be aware not to confuse empathy with compassion, despite them both being positive states of mind, compassion encompasses much more.

Lori Chandler from BigThink, explains this difference beautifully:

Empathy is understanding, how someone feels and trying to imagine, how that might feel for you – it’s a mode of relating. Compassion is feeling, what that person is feeling, holding it,

accepting it and taking some kind of action”.

So, in order to be compassionate, we don’t only need to relate to and feel for others, but we also need to act, in order to alleviate their suffering, to bring happiness and peace to them and into the world. Compassion has a tremendous power, a power to transform the negativity, that we are living in, into something positive. Just as the lotus flower blooms from the mud, the seed of compassion has the energy to change darkness into light, to move from a hatred and violent state of being, into a loving, caring and peaceful nature.

In order to understand the importance of compassion better and the need to apply it daily, we would like to share an article on the Power of Compassion.

The Power of Compassion, by Michael Crawley

“Compassion is the most powerful force in the world. It can defeat indifference, intolerance and injustice. It is able to replace judgment with acceptance because it makes no distinction between age, ethnicity, gender or disability. It freely embraces the rich diversity of humanity by treating everyone as equals. It benefits both those, who receive it and those who share it. Every person on Earth desires it, and every human being deserves it.

It is an absolute fact, that our society cannot function without compassion. It’s a fundamental part of our communities, and it is necessary to ensure, that all those in need receive the support and services they require. Compassion drives society to be inclusive and to allow all of its members to be fully engaged in life. It is what compels human beings to care about each other and to help each other. 

A single act of compassion can change a person’s life forever.

Compassion is the willingness to give. It’s the desire to donate your talents, abilities and, most importantly, your time. It is the commitment to place someone else’s needs above your own. Some mistakenly believe, that compassion must always involve great personal sacrifice, but that is not true. The reward you receive from sharing your compassion is far more significant, than anything you might give up in the process. To make a real difference in another human being’s life is a richly satisfying feeling.

Unfortunately, it is far too easy to stand on the sidelines in life and wait for “others” do the right thing. It takes character and integrity to be the one, who is willing to step up and make a difference. To feel sympathy for someone is not enough. We must also be willing to take action. That is why compassion requires courage. Together they are one of the most dynamic combinations in the world.

Compassion is the bond, that unites all of humanity.

Compassion embraces the noblest characteristics of human beings. It allows us to think of others, instead of always focusing on ourselves. It refuses to be selfish, it is willing to forgive, and it accepts people for who they are. Compassion gives us the ability to understand someone else’s situation and the desire to take action to improve their lives. It is the quality, that allows us to step outside of ourselves and see the circumstances of others. It supplies the will power to do, what is necessary to make the world a more caring place. Compassion inspires us to make an immediate and effective effort to come to the assistance of those, who are dealing with challenges.

Compassion is particularly important to those, who are vulnerable. For people who are dependent on others for help and support, compassion is often the most important factor in allowing them to lead fulfilled lives. Therefore, we have a moral imperative to treat them as equals and to ensure, that they enjoy the same rights as other members of society. They should never be marginalized or subjected to isolation. For those individuals, compassion provides respect, while preserving their dignity.

We each have an endless supply of compassion, and it costs us nothing to share it.

Because it recognizes the urgency for assistance, when someone is in need, compassion motivates us to get involved. We can’t help but reach out to those, who are facing difficult situations, when we are filled with compassion. It makes us sensitive to what other people are going through. It makes us care at such a profound level, that we are filled with the overwhelming desire to make a difference. Compassion makes us accept responsibility, that we never thought we could handle. It makes us better people, than we ever dreamed we could be. It makes our existence meaningful and worthwhile.

But it’s important to understand that compassion is more than just an emotion; it is a way of life.Compassion lifts people up. It encourages, praises and embraces the humanity of others. It is genuine, sincere and from the heart. It is the acknowledgement of the value of another person. It is the desire to make the human experience better not only for ourselves but also for everyone else. And because nothing can have a faster impact in life, the positive effects of compassion are multiplied, when the person who receives it, shares the benefits with others.

We can create a meaningful difference in the world simply by performing one simple act of compassion after another.

Of course, the purest form of compassion is, when it is shown to someone, who will never know of your generosity. There is no expectation of being “paid back”. There are no words of thanks or a pat on the back. There is no public acknowledgment for your good deed. It is an act of kindness, performed simply, because it is the right thing to do. The reward is in knowing, that you helped to change someone’s life. The willingness to share ourselves without thought for what we might get in return, is the true nature of compassion. It’s when it is least expected, that compassion often produces its most dramatic results.

Fortunately, there is an inherent goodness in people, that naturally leads us to try to do what is right. That is why we attempt to raise funds to confront a problem, although money will not completely solve it. It’s the reason we petition the government to provide programs, even though we know they can only do so much. It is why we write about an issue and enlist the aid of celebrities to use their fame and influence to raise awareness about it, all the while knowing that publicity cannot ensure, that it’s eliminated. In the end, despite our best intentions, the only true solution to life’s challenges is compassion. If we will love one another, if we will be filled with genuine concern and empathy for those who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, then the money, support and programs have a much greater chance of succeeding.

Compassion is the greatest gift one human being can share with another. 

It is never too late for us to make a positive difference in the world. We simply start by thinking of others first. We consider their needs instead of focusing exclusively on what we want. We try to realize that our problems are often insignificant compared to what others face. We can each begin, right now, to enjoy a life based on compassion that will lead us on a fulfilling journey. We will experience a deep sense of joy in our efforts to improve lives. We will quickly understand how rewarding life can be when we sincerely make the effort to bring hope and opportunity to those facing challenges. We can learn to feel good about ourselves for attempting to be part of the solution. We can embrace a cause, that is bigger than our small personal world. If we will begin to fill our lives with compassion, we will develop an increasing awareness of the courageous struggles waged daily by our fellow human beings.

It is impossible to know how much good can come from a single act of compassion.”

So, let’s combine our attitude of courage for this year with compassion. And let’s create a courageous compassionate state of mind, that embodies all the good things, that we have inside of us: our love, caring and positive energies. And let’s use them to help others and Mother Earth in their suffering, creating a world of love, peace and happiness!

With love,

The Bali Yoga Family

Text by Jonathan Rivas


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