Compassion - My Lesson for The Day
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." Dalai Lama
In our household, we have a set of angel cards. Each has a one-word spiritual attribute printed on it. My soul mate, Phil, and I take turns selecting a card in the morning before starting our day. We pay attention and see how the message may express itself in our day.
One morning I chose one at random: “Compassion.” On that day, I was in a hurry. I needed to pick up an item at a department store, so I took a comfortable twenty-minute bus ride into town. I enjoyed the scenery of our semi-rural town, the warmth of the female bus driver and the coziness of pleasant weather.
On the way back, after getting out of the store in less than fifteen minutes, I was met with a challenge. This time the bus driver was a cranky, older man who I happened to notice had a hearing disability. The ride was bumpy and scary. Besides driving faster than he should have, he took out a piece of gum and unwrapped it slowly, both his hands lifted from the steering wheel. He then aimed the wrap at the garbage can next to the door and grumbled because he missed. I remembered once before when I had the same unpleasant experience with his driving and his demeanor. As we neared my stop I pulled the bell cord, he but he didn’t hear it, so I missed my stop. When he saw me get up he asked, “You get off here?” Calmly I replied, “Yes.” I didn’t say anything about my missed stop and, instead, simply wished him a good day.
Walking back home, I engaged in negative mental chatter: “This man really shouldn’t be driving! An accident could have happened! He needs an attitude makeover.” Then I remembered the word on the angel card. I also have a hearing disability, though I hoped I came off as more pleasant than this gentleman. The minute I felt compassion, not pity, I came to an understanding that in the journey of life we all are doing the best we can. Having a handicap makes that even more difficult. My heart opened and my mind relaxed instantly. I don’t think this is empathy. I would have come to the same understanding even if he didn’t have a hearing challenge. What a shift! I could once again enjoy the soft breeze and the clear blue skies.
Webster’s dictionary defines compassion as “Sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Compassion is expressed in different forms: attitude, service, and action. When we reach out to help someone in need, even if it is to lend a friendly shoulder to lean on, we are alleviating suffering. When we keep our mind still without falling into judgment, we are also being compassionate.
I have an open heart, so it’s not difficult for me to live a life of compassion. But the lesson I learned that day was about compassionate understanding of a higher order. In my life, I have been the recipient of different forms of compassion, and for that I’m grateful. The mind is generally busy judging and over-dramatizing as I did that day on the bus. This is what creates separation, whereas the heart simply knows and acts accordingly, often without fear.
In life we need to have love and compassion not only for the world, but also for ourselves and have understanding for one another. This unconditional understanding is not of the mind but of the heart. It is an acceptance that we are all part of the human condition and the illusion of life. No matter who we are or where we are, the attributes of love – one of which is compassion – are what truly matter in the end.
A compilation of musings, affirmative prayers and affirmations that are spiritual but without dogma. It's a handy book to use daily to awaken the sacred within you. Readers have commented that the words soothes, inspires and encourages them to introspect.
@Copyright “Beyond Inspiration" 2012