July 27      

Today's quotation:

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.  It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

Pema Chödrön

Today's Meditation:

Sometimes we approach the idea of being compassionate with others as somehow coming from a position of superiority.  It's easy to do when things are going well for us and when we see someone else who's going through troubles.  But this approach denies the truth of the situation-- that virtually everyone deserves our compassion simply because they're human beings going through trials that are very difficult for them, just as we are.

"Our shared humanity" is a good way of putting it.  We all are here as human beings, doing our best to make it through life as well as we can.  Many people hurt us, try our patience, make us angry, offend us, or treat us poorly, but are these people less deserving somehow of our compassion?  Or are they people who are even more deserving of compassion because they're not able to deal with the adversity in their lives as well as others, and who feel so insecure about themselves that they need to lash out at or harm others?

I would like to consider myself to be a compassionate person, but I sometimes find myself being judgmental-- sometimes harshly-- rather than compassionate.  And that's a shame because it limits me rather than affecting those I judge.  My compassion can be helpful to myself and others, yet if I don't practice it and show it, it's like a ten-dollar bill that's locked away in a drawer:  it certainly can't help to feed and nourish me if I don't take it out and share it.

All people deserve our compassion to some extent or another.  We're able to feel and share that compassion when we realize that we, too, have many of the issues that others have, and that we, too, are fully deserving of our own compassion.  When we share compassion with ourselves and others, we're adding to the healing of the world instead of the harm; to the positive energy of the world instead of the negative.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so difficult sometimes to show compassion to others?

What does "our shared humanity" mean to you?

Why is it often so hard for us to recognize and appreciate the problems that others are facing?

For further thought:

Compassion for the other comes out of our ability to accept ourselves.  Until we realize both our own weaknesses and our own privileges, we can never tolerate lack of status and depth of weakness in the other.

Joan Chittister

more on compassion



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