What is compassion?

“to suffer together”

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related.

I really liked this definition of compassion which I found on google. Yesterday, my teacher had a session on compassion and as he was walking us through the entire meditation or talk, my eyes were shut and I had gone into a state of trance. I don’t think I even heard him completely. Actually, just before the call I had a serious argument with someone, it was a value conflict wherein I felt whatever I am saying is the right way but then I soon realised the opposite person has had a different way of approaching things all their life and so no matter how much I try, it won’t work. They won’t change their way of doing things. All these years, I have tried to tell them in a nice way, in a not so nice way, in a harsh way, in a loud way, but nothing has changed and it bothers me. Because I have always been the righteous one. I have always fought for the truth, for whats right. I don’t take sides depending on the party. I have a clear sense of right and wrong but over the years I started to keep quiet, I started to tolerate everything happening around me until one day when it all bursted out. I think I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted of trying to change the situation for the better, not for my benefit but to just make things better. But it never worked and so it’s best I move away from that situation and I am glad I have done that. I didn’t see any other way. I have moved away. I will live my life based on my value systems and nothing less. My values are everything to me and so no one can come in the way of that. I have learnt this from my father. He’s a gem. He’s my idol when it comes to standing for whats right and doing the right thing. There has never been any indecisiveness with him and I have imbibed that quality. I just know when things are right and I don’t stop myself from giving my opinion no matter who is sitting in front of me.

So, then when my teacher spoke about compassion for self, it hit a chord yesterday because I was suffering a lot. I was upset that I had to be so harsh but I didn’t see any other way yesterday. So, how do I be compassionate towards myself in a situation like this one? By allowing myself to feel into the sadness, by allowing myself to vent out, or scream or just wonder why I was put through all of this knowing very well it was against my value system all these years. So, then I started talking to myself and literally being very sweet, by saying, ” It’s okay, Miss Light. I know you’ve been bad and you could have said things in a better way but you had had a difficult today and the person in front of you wasn’t willing to listen to your point of view again and so it’s okay if you had to lash out. You’re good. You aren’t a bad person. Yes, you do hurt people time and again but behind all of this is only goodness and kindness and love and compassion.” What do I do if I have been made this way? Why do I want to fight for what’s right? Why do I want to be a Mother Teresa? I am not sure why I get pulled to these things but it just happens naturally and sometimes I burn my fingers in the process.

Compassion with wisdom, my teacher says. Interesting because now I can be compassionate to myself and the people around me and also be wise as I do it. An example he mentioned was as mothers we are strict with our kids, we want them to eat the right foods and so our way of showing compassion towards them is by being strict about it. So, if you need to be strict with your parents or children because you see the bigger picture and they don’t then be that. Bring in compassion with wisdom into everything. Make it the basis of your existence.

May I not suffer, may you not suffer, may none of us suffer. And so it is.

Lots of Love,

Miss Light

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