Compassionate living - Are you ready for Compassionate living
How compassionate are you?
Compassion is one of the greatest human qualities that every human being needs to possess. Compassion, unlike pity, it is the ability to feel deep sympathy for another person, so much so that you are willing to go the extra mile to help any human being in need. Compassion is coined from the Latin word “cum” meaning with and “pati” meaning to bear or suffer. In total it means to suffer with, I can only equate it with empathy. It is a strangely deep and stirring word that we use in a very light and superficial way. I wonder how many of us would go that extra mile for another human being? Many of us are willing to give advice and counsel others, but to be able to go all the way to make someone comfortable is not something many of us would venture out to do. We all have our families, responsibilities and stuff that keeps us so busy that we do not even have the time to consider the needs of others.
The face of compassion on this Earth
Thinking about compassion, one face comes to mind - the face of Mother Teresa. She was the face of compassion on the Earth, the one who could go not just an extra mile, but to the ends of the Earth to serve her fellow beings who were in need. A few years ago, on the weekends, we would regularly spend a day as a family with the Sisters of Charity, one of Mother Teresa’s organisations locally. This was a place where abandoned children were taken care of, called “Nirmala Shishu Bhavan”. At this place, we learnt what compassion truly is. The sisters and the little novices would carry, feed and care for each of these children, and most of them were abnormal or terribly sick in some ways. You would never see a wrinkle on their faces, as they went about, tending to each child’s needs. In fact, you would see them singing, smiling and happily playing with the babies. That is compassion indeed! Through those days, we learnt what it is to care for someone who is not yours and do it with a smile, and we were hugely rewarded with some of those babies getting so emotionally attached to us.
Learning to be compassionate - Lessons in compassionate living
We would also volunteer at the “Home for the Aged”, where most of the elderly people were destitutes, abandoned by the family and society. As we spent time with these elderly people, with our little baby, we would see tears and smiles simultaneously on their faces. Day after day, we would get to hear stories of how as parents they spent all their wealth and resources on educating their children, and then the child was gone to a far off land, abandoning their parents to a cruel fate. It was pure joy to sing and talk and read to them and entertain them in whatever ways we could and be rewarded with the brightest smiles and the biggest hugs that would come right from the hearts of those elderly people. That is how we got tuned in to compassion. Compassion is a learning process. It is the ability to be able to put others before yourself, to be willing to take awkwardness and grime, filth and thanklessness in your stride. You learn to do things for others without expecting anything in turn, not even gratitude. Your rewards come from the inner peace and satisfaction that you gain out of serving others.
Living compassionately everyday
Compassion in day to day living is yet another ball game. Here, you are forced to be compassionate to those whom you live with or interact with everyday. Sometimes, it is the closest of people who are the most difficult and it is indeed hard to show compassion to these individuals because they could easily take advantage of your goodness. Sometimes it seems that being compassionate is not the wisest of things to do. It is almost like exposing your vulnerable self to someone. The other day, I heard a friend of mine saying, “I’m a sucker for sad stories. When I hear someone tell me a sad story, I pull out my wallet.” I was reminded about the Chinese proverb, which says, “If you give a man a fish, he will have food for a day; if you teach him to fish, you would have saved his life.” I think that is where real compassion lies. That is compassion unlimited. Giving a few currency notes may not always require much from your side, but having to go the extra mile to ensure that the person is comfortable would be real compassion. I remember my father spending his well-earned money to buy a tin of polish and a shoe brush for some beggar on the street. He spent time telling the man that he could earn his own livelihood with the equipment that he had bought, but in a few days’ time, we saw the man again with the beggar’s bowl. Showing compassion may or may not work, but then, that is the best part of compassion- that you do your best, and you are not interested in the results or rewards. You don’t stop when the results are negative. You go on believing in the goodness of mankind and as the Bible says, “never tire of doing good.”
Gandhi the example of compassion in everyday life
Another wonderful man whom I admire greatly is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Gandhiji as he is lovingly called. Born in a family of high standing, being one of the privileged few to be educated on foreign shores to be a lawyer, he gave it all up just to serve his countrymen. He had decided to teach his countrymen that no job was below his dignity and he did the unthinkable-he cleaned toilets. That was the job of the untouchables, and at that time, by doing that, he caused a major furore. He not only preached what he believed in, but he lived his life by the same principles.
Compassion is love in action - Are you ready for compassionate living?
Compassion is even greater than love, because it is the practice of love.
So you how do you bring compassion in your daily life?
Firstly, we’ve got to stop living like we are the only ones that matter on the planet and look around a bit. Our world’s greatest problem is not the lack of food, water or money - it is the lack of love, and compassion, which is love in action, is the only thing that can help our world be a better place.
Secondly, everyday, when we get up, we’ve got to decide to go out of our way, out of our usual schedules to do something to make another person’s day special. Once decided, it makes it so much easier to implement our desires, and really contributes to bringing the best out of us every day.
Finally, we have to watch our words. We may not realize it, but our words mean a lot to the people around us. We have to learn to use our words to build and encourage people, not pull them down or tear them apart. If you’re not sure on who to start practicing your compassion on, start with the people around you. They are often the hardest people to show compassion, but I guess they are the ones that need your support the most.
Compassion is also a vey self- rewarding experience. I’d like to close with the words of a song that I learned when I was a kid:
”Love is something that you give away, give away, give away,
Love is something that you give away, and it comes right back to you.
It’s just like a magic penny, hold it tight and you won’t have any;
Lend it, spend it, give it away and it comes right back to you.”
I hope that you are inspired to go the extra mile to make someone else’s day !!