I am done with great things And big things, great institutions And big success, and I am for those Tiny invisible molecular moral Forces that work from individual To individual, creeping through The crannies of the world like So many rootlets, or like the Capillary oozing of water, Yet which, if you give them Time Will rend the hardest monuments Of our pride.
~ from THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM JAMES by William James
Warm, winter greetings, dear friends. It is still cold in areas that experience seasonal change, but we are past the Winter Solstice and there's an almost imperceptible increase in the hours of daylight. And even on the coldest of days, the light of compassion can warm us. It has been said that compassion is at the heart of all the world’s religions, but it can be difficult sometimes to find it in our own hearts or even to adequately define it. At such times, we can turn within, ask for help, and then, in the silence, listen with our hearts. The answers we need will come. If we but ask and then listen and finally act as our heart directs, we can bring more and more compassion into our suffering world, one heart, one soul at a time.
Compassion literally means to feel with, to suffer with. Everyone is capable of compassion, and yet everyone tends to avoid it because it's uncomfortable. And the avoidance produces psychic numbing -- resistance to experiencing our pain for the world and other beings.
by Joanna Macy, quoted in OPEN MIND by Diane Mariechild
The Earth is home to all creation, to be lovingly cared for by us in communion with the Divine Friend. Praises be to the Creator of the cosmos! With grateful hearts, let us give thanks! What other return can we give to the One, Who continues to gift us with life? When we open our heart to the Friend, when we live with compassion and kindness, we walk in beauty! We come to know the Divine Guest, Whose companioning Presence is ever with us.
The greatest gift of all is an awakened, unconstrained, limitless heart. It takes you out of your skin and fills you with such compassion that, in the words of one of my Bushmen teachers, "It even makes you love the man who stole your wife." I have no doubt that the Bushmen doctors of the Kalahari hold the most important answer to the world's present state of crisis, terror, and madness. It is not found in any defense budget, technological development, or politician's deal. It is found in each and every one of our hearts. It's the oldest news that can set us free and it is found when one surrenders to the hot, sweaty, weeping steam of love, the love that reveals the ropes that take us straight to the Big God.
from "Dancing with the Kalahari Bushmen" by Bradford Keeney in Spirituality and Health, June 2003
Compassion is defined in Buddhist teaching as the trembling or quivering of the heart in response to seeing pain or suffering. Alone with love and altruism, compassion can be seen as warm-heartedness replacing cynicism, beneficence taking the place of indifference, caring supplanting aloofness. The Dalai Lama, whose life has not been easy, has said, "The reason I am pretty happy is because of the force of compassion. Compassion makes me feel at one with everyone."
In a talk about compassion, a former teacher of mine once said that practice prepares the mind, but suffering prepares the heart. Perhaps the final step in the healing of all wounds is the discovery of the capacity for compassion, an intuitive knowing that no one is singled out in their suffering, that all living beings are vulnerable to loss, attachment, and limitation. It is only in the presence of compassion that we can show our wounds without diminishing our wholeness. For those who have compassion, woundedness is not a place of judgment but a place of genuine meeting.
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