Compassion is a form of connectedness that goes beyond thought and language. It is spontaneous. Compassion is a form of connectedness because it arises when we feel a sympathetic commonality with someone. In other words, we experience a shared felt experience of pain. There is a harmony inherent in shared feelings, as well as shared understanding. When we feel compassion, we feel sorrow and understanding and concern for the suffering of someone or something else. And having that shared commonality of pain and therefore sorrow and concern for them, then compels us to alter our actions towards that thing. We show mercy and love towards it instead of cruelty and separation from it.
Think back to a time when you were watching a movie or a show where a character experienced something that caused them to suffer and instantly you got a physiological sensation of connection with that character. You instantly related to that person and understood them as well as what they need. This is compassion. Compassion immediately arises when someone experiences pain that we relate to.
When we do not relate to something, because we feel separate and different from them, we do not feel compassion. This is why our meat industry is alive and well. We grew up with our family dog and because we have a bond with it, we relate to its experiences. The idea of eating the family dog appalls us because we feel compassion for the dog. However, we feel separate from a cow and do not have a bond with it. We do not relate to it and so the idea of eating hamburger does not appall us. We feel no compassion for the cow. A person, who experienced a commonality of pain with something else and was aware of it, would be incapable of inflicting that same pain on that thing. This is why it is so common for survivors of severe abuse to stop eating meat all together.
We feel no compassion and therefore propagate cruelty towards things we do not feel a shared commonality with. If we identify ourselves as totally sane, we will have no compassion with people who are mentally ill. We will treat them as if they are a danger to society and get angry that they can’t just “snap out of it” and ostracize them and having no sense of their needs (because we do not relate to them), we will do all kinds of things with them that increase their suffering instead of decrease it.
We feel no compassion towards spiders. We will stomp on them to crush them with the heel of a shoe and think the action is a good one. Many wealthy people have no compassion for people who are poor. They do not relate and so they imagine them to be lazy and keep changing laws and increasing the cost of living without increasing salaries, thus making it harder to thrive financially. The bottom line is NO real positive and effective change can come to a person, from a person who does not relate to them deeply enough to understand their perspective and subsequently needs.
Today, I’m going to make the idea of how to develop compassion so simple for you; you will not be able to forget it. Compassion will no longer be an abstract concept. Compassion naturally arises as a result of relating to someone’s suffering. Therefore, all we must to in order to feel compassion and know what action to take towards that thing is to DELIBERATELY LOOK FOR HOW YOU RELATE TO THEIR PAIN. If we are terrified of deliberately looking for how we relate to someone, we need to ask ourselves WHY? What bad thing do I think will happen if I relate to this thing or feel close to this thing or am the same as this thing? And we need to compassionately challenge the thoughts that arise as a result of asking this question. We need to find the part of us behind those thoughts that is afraid and have compassion for it.
Compassion only happens when you are maintaining the idea that you are different from something. Having compassion begins with looking for how you are the same as something. Do the opposite of what your ego naturally does, which is to look for how you are different to something. Therefore, if you are struggling to have compassion for something, dedicate time to being present with that thing, learning about that thing and understanding it. From there (if it has not naturally happened already) deliberately look for ways that you are the same as that thing. From there, see if you can look for ways that you relate to their pain. How is your pain the same as their pain? Can you identify their pain? Look back over the course of your life. When did you experience pain like that? Remember what that felt like. Remember what you thought. What did you really need back then when you were in that pain?
The connectedness of compassion naturally arises when we assume this perspective instead of a perspective where we are separate from them and different to them.
If we have a bankruptcy of compassion for things that are external to us, it is because we have a bankruptcy of compassion for things that are internal to us. As people, we have no compassion for ourselves. The reason for this is fragmentation. If we do not have a way to resolve and thus integrate the trauma that we experience when we are young, we must dissociate from it. Our consciousness splits when we do this as a matter of self-preservation. We push an aspect of ourselves that is experiencing that pain away from ourselves and we reject it and deny it and disown it and identify with the aspect that does not feel that vulnerability. But because we have no way of becoming two different people at that moment, instead, our sense of self becomes fragmented. So even though we have one body, within that body, we end up with multiple internal selves. Some of which we bury in the subconscious and never allow to see the light of day. To understand how this process happens in depth, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The World Wide Disease.
By splitting off from and dis-identifying with the aspect of us who feels the vulnerability and suffering in that moment, in favor of identifying with an aspect that doesn’t, we consider ourselves to be ‘different’ from that part of us. We no longer relate to it. This is why we are capable of propagating the same abuse that was done to us as children. It is why our parents can force us to abandon our true dreams in favor of doing something rational and practical of their choosing and then, we can force our own children to do the same, no longer relating to the kind of torment that caused in us and therefore not relating to the kind of torment that causes in our children.
In order to release ourselves from suffering, we need to re-integrate these aspects within us that we have pushed away from ourselves so as to split off from and dis-identify from. We need to include them as part of us again and do the same thing that we would do to develop compassion towards another part of us, but with the parts that are internal to us. The inner child is just one example of many of these inner selves that exists. Therefore, we develop self-compassion when we are present with the inner child within us, when we are learning about him or her and understanding him or her. The next steps are very easy because you will naturally relate because it is already a part of you… From there (if it has not naturally happened already) you can deliberately look for ways that we are the same as our inner child. From there, see if you can look for ways that you relate to his or her pain. How is your pain the same as their pain? Can you identify their pain? Let your inner child show you your past. Remember when you experienced that pain. Remember what that felt like. Remember what you thought. What did you really need back then when you were in that pain? How can you provide that for yourself and for other people now? The connectedness of compassion with this part of ourselves naturally arises when we assume this perspective instead of a perspective where we are separate from our inner child and different from them and worse, when we assume the perspective that we are adults and so a child within does not even exist. We must do this process with all the parts within us. When we do this, the light of compassion will cause an integration of these fragmented aspects of us. We will feel more whole. Our shame will evaporate in the light of our compassion, like sunlight melting ice. We will take actions toward ourselves that are in alignment with compassion.
I will give you an example. Imagine that we have a politician who is cruel and dictatorial. Imagine that way back in his childhood, he had a father who shamed him and rejected him any time he was not the very best. Perhaps his father called him a loser. Having no way to resolve the pain of that experience and in order to keep the love of that father, he had to cut off from the aspect of him that felt like a failure and from the pain of his own feelings that he might not be good enough. He had to identify with a side of him that is winner. He had to cover up the side of him that never felt like it was good enough with achievements so he could no longer even see it. He had to push away any feeling or thought or action or person that his father associated with being a looser. He had to consider himself different to them. Now, because he has pushed them so far away, the aspect he is identified with cannot relate to them. Now, he is the one calling them all losers. He is the one taking actions that increase their suffering and thinking they deserve it. And until he re-owns the side of himself that feels like it is not good enough, so as to feel compassion for it (the side that suffered the pain of the rejection and shaming of his father) he will not relate to the people who he has sorted into the category of ‘different from me because they are losers’. He will continue to propagate separation of and cruelty towards these people and not be able to meet their needs.
This world functions like a mirror. The fragmentation in the world, which is evident through things like wars and prejudice and slaughterhouses, is merely a reflection of our internal state of fragmentation. When compassion is the condition of our internal selves, it will be the condition of the external world. And integration within the world will spontaneously follow suit.
It is often much easier to feel a sense of connectedness when someone is suffering as opposed to when they are feeling joy. Our suffering makes a big impact on our being. Seeing someone suffer in the same way immediately establishes our sense of commonality. And to be honest, it is not our joy on this planet that needs our compassion because it is not our joy that is creating the problems here on earth for one another. It is our lack of compassion. It is the way that we have not made the decision to relate to each other deeply and see ourselves as the same.
Compassion is the single most critical thing for the human race to develop. And quite honestly, the survival of our own species depends on it. We are no longer in a place where we can wait for compassion to spontaneously occur. We now have to take steps to help it to arise.