Necessity, Not Luxury

Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

~Dalai Lama, The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, 1391-1474

From the last blog entry: We want to reach out to others who are experiencing loss… This intention, wrapped in love and compassion, aligns with Source and seeks oneness with others…. but what do we say?  What words would be meaningful?  What is helpful rather than routine?  What would the experts say? These demands find us faced with a different loss.

Compassion takes on many faces. Traditionally, cards, poets’ words, inspirational books, shared meals, transportation/home services, monetary gifts or in-kind services from non-profit organizations or local charities, and fundraisers are fantastic ways to connect and make life easier and more positive for those suffering from any kind of loss. This is compassion connected with “doing” and is extremely helpful and appreciated.

Yet compassion can touch a deeper place in our “being” when we allow it, the place of self-compassion. At this level, we see ourselves in the place of those suffering. The universal gifts of love, stability, peace, and mindfulness that begin in Source come to us. We forget ourselves and open our hearts. We become the ones who suffer. Through these feelings, we discover yet a more extensive wellspring of connection. On an emotional level, we want to ease their suffering and pain by taking it on ourselves. Driven by empathy, love, and raw courage, we bind with them. We offer our presence and listen. We express words that we would want to hear. Our actions demonstrate understanding.

For some of us, this depth of connection may seem scary, impossible, or dream-like. Yet, when we know ourselves well enough, we can bind in this vital way. Considerations: having the emotional strength to take on another’s pain and suffering, being mindful of circumstances and overriding fear, and letting go of resistance to the present moment. The mental discourse of discovery can be found only through setting aside time, opening hearts, and working through what we find.

Without thorough inner study, we’d just be guessing at what we have to offer in the compassion department. When our inquiring minds need to know what to say about loss, it is essential to have the confidence of inner knowing. Introspection confirms if or how we need to change. How inspiring to know that we have nourished enough happiness, joy, and peace within so that we can share these qualities. Understanding and engendering love for self is the foundation for the quality and quantity of compassion that we can offer to others.

The following few paragraphs are paraphrased from “Being Love,” with Thich Nhat Hanh,  In the quiet moments, as we begin to examine the thoughts, actions and environments that have shaped us, it may be helpful to keep a journal.

Before we can offer love and compassion to others, we first need to love and feel compassion for ourselves. Turning inward, we listen to the calls of our body, feelings, and perceptions. Without judgment, we fully accept them as they are.

Buddhism offers four elements of true love. Here, we apply them to ourselves. Once we have absorbed their meaning, we are ready to apply the concepts to others. Spend some time with these beliefs each day to see how they might become a part of your life:

*Loving kindness-nurturing happiness in self

*Compassion- reducing suffering through acceptance of self

*Joy-innate delight; no effort required in self; balanced mind, body, and soul

*Equanimity-freedom to be self; spaciousness in heart, mind; calmness in self

By taking time to look deeply inward, we practice being in the present moment and know that our higher Self speaks to us. This is the cultivation of self-compassion. Four elements open us to dialogues of love and compassion—first with ourselves. With a bit of practice, we see how these dialogues make us feel cared for and can weave them into conversations with others, offering them compassion. Begin by talking to yourself.

* Presence: (Your name), I am here for you in my looking, sitting, breathing, walking. I offer my true presence.

*Recognition and appreciation: (Your name), I know you are there and I am very happy.

*Relieve pain, suffering created by Ego by being mindful, paying attention: (Your name), I know you suffer and I am here for you.

*Relieve pain, suffering created by a loved one: I suffer because of some action or thought that (loved one’s name) created. Please help me, (loved one’s name), to understand.

Love is the foundation for compassion. By truly loving and understanding ourselves, we can better love and understand others. Thinking and acting compassionately in the thick of things is “a necessity not a luxury.” Traditional forms of compassion are positive for all energies and the planet. However, compassion taken to a deeper level of getting to know, understand and love ourselves, lets us speak authentically. An authentic heart is a gateway or portal to Source. Now we know what we have to offer. No more wondering if certain words or gestures would be meaningful, if something is helpful, or if apologies are in order for not being a psychologist. We know. We’ve taken time to sit with our inner being. We speak from our heart. Any words or actions of compassion are exactly right.

In the quiet moments: Offer love and compassion to yourself, then to others, and then to all energies. Suddenly the world is friendlier and things go better. Give thanks for your life, well-lived.

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

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