The four are: compassion, joy, lovingkindness and equanimity.
As I stated in the previous blog, an abode is our home. It is where we live.
Thus we have a true home in compassion, joy, lovingkindness and equanimity. Our problem is that we often get lost and forget where home is.
I know I’m lost when I feel off balance or anxious in any way. Or when I focus on “my” problems.
Great freedom comes as we learn that a problem is not really problem. It is just life happening.
But this requires a dedication to learning how to let go and truly accept what is, without naming or creating a story around it.
It isn’t easy to give up our stories! Who doesn’t love a good story?
But as we examine the motive behind our stories we learn much. And doing this work is truly a compassionate act!
A good place to begin, for me, is to remember what compassion consists of. Compassion has no pity in it.
Compassion is opening our hearts to truly feel what others are going through and what it must be like to live in their body. For in truth we are not “stand alone” beings.
We are all joined at the hip and the heart in ways that cannot be seen or measured. Quantum physics tells us at the basis of all matter there is a “oneness” best described as a flow, rather than a particle, and this is the source of all that is.
The “oneness” manifests as a particle, as something that is specific. We can get so caught up in the “matter—the formed—that we forget the flow part.
I think the flow is what brings compassion alive. For we are all a part of each other in a non-physical way. This is our truth.
To me compassion means experiencing all our thoughts and emotions open heartedly. This includes being with our joys and suffering, as well as another’s—but not just in a conceptional way.
We begin by noting our likes and dislikes, our pleasure and pain. For this is where suffering (dissatisfaction) begins.
Yes, there is suffering (dissatisfaction) in this world, and as the Buddha taught there is relief from suffering!
And it is the relief from suffering that brings us into the truth, beauty and goodness of life.
Thus developing compassion when we feel sad or disappointed is worth the effort.
I find it helpful to touch my heart and say, “This is sadness.” Or “This is fear.” When I can acknowledge the anger or sadness or disappointment I have moved one step away from the story about the situation and have become an observer or witness of the suffering. This is a movement toward compassion.
It takes a lot of time, effort and patience to process our lives. People often say life is too short to stay angry. I say, rather, life is too long to stay angry or fearful.
We are in life for the long haul—for soul growth. Anger and fear are just too painful to live with for any length of time. They wear us down.
But anger and fear are useful for us to learn from. Any experience can be learned from when we observe, witness and stay open rather than forming a conclusion immaturely.
Anger wakes us up by telling us something is amiss. Instead of staying angry and blaming, wisdom calls us to begin investigation into our beliefs. What is under the anger? What are we afraid might happen?
As we deeply inquire we then ask what is it we are not doing or saying that truly needs to be done?
This is a longtime practice. Practice means we patiently come back to the work of noticing our likes and dislikes again and again. All life is process. Patience and time are involved.
We begin again by breathing deeply for several minutes, experiencing the breath as it flows through our body. As the mind slows down through breathing deeply we can notice what the mind likes and dislikes.
Liking and disliking are all learned behaviors that lead to biases. Biases cause all manner of suffering, for we then value certain people and things and devalue others. This leads to racism, sexism, political exploitation, dictatorship and all manner of harm.
We might ask, “Where is our compassion in all of this?"
Compassion is a flow of something we might call “love” that is felt everywhere. Love is an energy out of which everything is born. It arises and it falls away. Birth and death continually take place.
As the saying goes, “God is like a circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere.”
We are that center that is everywhere. When we live at the center we leave no one or no thing out. I call this love.
Compassion is inclusive. It even includes our dislikes and our pain!
The warmth of compassion melts the iciness of disgust, revulsion and hatred.
Through this process we discover we are not victims, but creators. We create our suffering through the choices of how we see life and how we act.
Let us begin by having compassion on ourselves. As well as everyone whom our mind touches. Compassion enlivens.
And every breath changes our world. For everything is in flow.