Friday, February 12, 2010


Compassion is an immensely powerful spiritual tool. I believe we could change the world with more attention on choosing compassion. Developing an understanding of what compassion really means has been a very personal journey for me. I remember a teacher at the Aesclepion Healing Institute telling me that I have more than my share of compassion. It's been one of my life's most valuable learning experiences, because in the family I grew up in, being sensitive and compassionate was seen as weakness, and was not validated. I always felt very wrong and out of place. It provided me with a very challenging but ultimately perfect opportunity to look deep within myself and choose exactly who I want to be.

As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, wrote: "If you think that compassion is passive, weak, or cowardly, then you don't know what real compassion or understanding is. If you think that compassionate people do not resist and challenge injustice, you are wrong. They are warriors, heroes, and heroines who have gained many victories. When you act with compassion, with nonviolence. . . you have to be very strong. You no longer act out of anger, you do not punish or blame. Compassion grows constantly inside of you, and you can succeed in your fight against injustice. Mahatma Gandhi was just one person. He did not have any bombs, any guns, or any political party. He acted simply on the. . . strength of compassion. . ."

Deciding on compassion toward another allows healing to happen. It allows ruffled feathers to settle, stirred-up emotions to quiet, and understanding and communication to begin. Compassion can right many wrongs. Certainly things happen in life that we are justified in feeling anger or resentment about, and we need to feel those things. We need to look closely at those situations in order to learn and grow. At some point, though, we need to get to that place that acknowledges God expressing as each of us. We are all on a path of remembering. We all have bad days, and we all wear blinders around certain situations. The truth is, everyone is doing the best they can with what they have in any given moment. It does no good for us personally or for our human evolution to hold on to judgement.

I learned awhile back that the thing I dislike most in someone else is the thing I most resist acknowledging in myself; a bitter pill to swallow, indeed. That other person is a perfect book to read, to learn about myself, if I choose to put that energy of judgement to its best use. I think it's well said in John 8:7, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone."

When I am in judgment of others, and I hold on instead of feeling it and then letting it go, I open the door for that energy to grow in my life. Peace and balance become elusive, as I find more to judge in myself as well as in others. Like forgiveness, compassion is not something we do only for the other person, but very much for ourselves as well.
We cannot solve a problem by being in the same energy that created the problem. We have to take a step up. Raising our vibration to one of compassion in a situation allows divine order to design a perfect resolution benefitting everyone.

A friend this morning told me about a quote that she uses from her 12-step program, which I plan to use often. It's simple, and a great way to remember the power of compassion: "Bless them, change me."

May this tool be a blessing. . .


  1. I feel that compasssion is the highest form of love, and I remember a Zen monk was said, "Love+Meditation=Compassion".

    When I first started practising zazen (Zen meditation) back in the early 1980s, I was surprised to discover that I started feeling compassion spontaneously. I wasn't looking for it, but suddenly one day, I felt a strong affinity with the birds that flitted in and out of my garden. I hadn't really taken a lot of notice of them before. This then started to extend fo all life. And then a feeling developed equally spontaneously to do no harm. Words are not really adequate to explain what was happening in those early days, but I got to realize that this is who I am, and this extends also to everybody else, regardless of what behaviour they may be manifesting right now. It was like I could see past the ego.

    I would love to say that this feeling stayed with me permanently, but the ego doesn't give up his control that easily, and pops in and out with various judgment and criticisms.

    I can recognize that each of us is a mirror in which we reflect others. At times, this recognition can turn into the experiential, and this is where things can get interesting and profound.

    I have learned that I need to be struggling with the ego, otherwise there would be no experiential learning.. :-)

  2. I appreciate what you wrote about compassion. It is solid and not "airy fairy." Unfortunately I find that many people on the spiritual path mistake compassion for always agreeing, being nice when they don't feel like it, smiling when they don't mean it. Of course that isn't compassion. It's just a yucky form of self-betrayal. My lesson of course is to feel compassion for these people, rather than anger which comes up for me. Bless them, change me. I will use that phrase from now on. Thank you!

  3. When people see compassion as being "weak" or "cowardly" I find it ironic! When one is compassionate towards another, he or she is feeling another person's pain that is in the process of being released. This is far from being a quality of weakness. When you love, you build beauty created in the universe and resolve pain. When you fear, your ego releases pain by transferring it to another.

    Just talking about your problems to another that's compassionate helps in releasing this pain, and is actually the basis for psychiatry (one-on-one talks with a third person).

    Many people that go through near death experiences talk about how when they've ascended passed our world that they review their life in full. They talk about how they not only completely feel their own emotions, but also how they feel the emotions and pain of others that was created or transferred by their own fear.

    This in itself is a vital part in the evolution of humanity: the ability to instantly and fully feel the emotional effects of others affected by our own actions/thoughts/manifestations.

    Also "being nice when [you] don't feel like it" as you put it, is a product of the ego.

  4. very thoughtful post sherry thanks for contacting me and bringing your blog to attention. Indeed, compassion is a courageous way to live our lives. Often compassionate asks us to choose between what is popular/status quo and what it right...not always easy. I am looking forward to reading your blog more often.
    gentle steps,

  5. Hello, Sherry!
    I'm stopping by to thank you for your kind visit and lovely comment on my blog, Crooked Little Girl. Thank you muchly. Crooked Little Girl is a blog to where I put my raw thoughts before working on them to post them to my main blogs Poesia Torta (crooked poetry) and Diários de Filosofia (Philosophy diaries). It's not often that people come and check it out. Thanks again for taking some time to leave a comment.

    I'm following your blog and I'll be back to read more about your spiritual tools. The place is charming.

    Take care and keep smiling.
    Much love from Brazil.