“There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.”
–Mary Anne Radmacher
I’ve been contemplating the idea of compassion a lot lately. Compassion can be a pretty heady yardstick. Com means with so the word would mean having passion with or to feel with another. If not empathy, tho they much be closely related, it must be it’s kid brother. I suppose in its strictest sense, it means putting yourself in another’s shoes and imagining what they feel and in some cases, in some cases loving them anyway. I do know from experience that knowing what another goes through makes it seriously hard to dislike them. If you realize, that everyone has stuff, underneath what we have done and become in order to survive in this world, we are beautiful. Isn’t one of our purposes to show that beauty even through what the world has made of us?
There was a Hindu man who saw a scorpion floundering around in the water. He decided to save it by stretching out his finger, but the scorpion stung him. The man still tried to get the scorpion out of the water, but the scorpion stung him again.
A man nearby told him to stop saving the scorpion that kept stinging him.
But the Hindu said: “It is the nature of the scorpion to sting. It is my nature to love. Why should I give up my nature to love just because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting?”
Don’t give up loving.
Don’t give up your goodness.
Even if people around you sting.
Maintaining this attitude can be difficult. When someone treats us with anger or pushes a button, answering in kind becomes so easy or spreading the feeling, being nasty to others because someone has been nasty to us first. I have caught myself doing that several times. The cashier at Starbucks was nasty and it bothered me so I was unthinkingly rude to the bus driver who then passed it on to his other passengers, a chain reaction of misery. One day I decided to see if i could turn it around. Maybe the cashier had some problems at home or something going on in her life. When she glared at me and handed me my change I said to her sincerely “I’m so happy to see you here every morning” and smiled at her. She looked shocked and said “Thank you” and smiled back. As I was walking towards the door I looked back and she was smiling at the next customer. That custom, another regular was surprised but he started smiling also. I don’t know how long it lasted, the next day when I stood in front of her, she seemed quite cranky again. Then she looked up at me, smiled and said “Would you like your regular?”
Compassion is a necessary element of forgiveness especially forgiveness of self. Once we start growing compassion, we can look back at our lives and have a greater understanding of people who hurt us and those whom we hurt and can start working on forgiving them. It’s not easy but it’s a lot easier than carrying around that ball of hurt we’ve been carrying for so many years.
Have I been totally successful at this myself? No, but I’m working on it. The successes I have had have made me a happier person for sure.
Click on images to see full-size
Bouncing Psychedelic Balls by G A Rosenberg