Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Origins: On Compassion, Being Thankful

Origins is an occasional post in which I delve into the history of a word or phrase.
Today's word is:
Compassion

I chose this word because there seems to be for many (including myself) a sense of anxiety, disquiet, and even dread. 

The word compassion comes from the Latin compati, meaning "to suffer with."

A close relative is the word pity. But having pity for someone or something is not the same as having compassion. There is more action implied with being compassionate, where as having pity is more passive. It is easy to confuse the two. 

We can feel pity - have empathy (from the Latin empátheia, literally passion”) for someone or something - but if we have not compassion, pity is meaningless. 

Saying something like, "Oh, I feel so bad about those poor abused dogs (children, elder people, those starving, those in war-torn areas etc)," is all well and good, and most of us do feel genuinely bad about these situations. Yet we go on with our day and don't DO anything.

That's were compassion comes in. Compassion turns that pity or empathy into something more, we don't just feel bad about the situation, we actually suffer it. And in the suffering are compelled to action.

Dalai Lama 1471 Luca Galuzzi 2007
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama defines Compassion as, "...not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop genuine concern for their problem. This is genuine compassion. For a Buddhist practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion, this genuine wish for the well-being of another, in fact for every living being throughout the universe."

You can read more about his explination of compassion HERE.

Compassion is not limited to those we love or to our friends. Having compassion encompasses all sentient life. It is understanding that all life suffers and that all life longs for happiness, even our enemies or people we consider evil want happiness and experience suffering. True compassion expresses itself without judgement. It crosses all borders, and permeates all religions, all beliefs, all doctrines.

This non-judgmental attitude towards all is not easy to attain, but is certainly worth striving for. In fact, in my mind, it's necessary, else we will descend into misunderstanding, fighting, and even war. The only thing worth fighting against is allowing our fears, distrust, anger, and judgement towards another human being to cloud the truth that WE ALL suffer and long for happiness.

1 Corinthians 1-13: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for all those who struggle to be truly compassionate, who choose to be all-inclusive, non-judgmental, and to bring joy into the world. 
***
What are you thankful for? What is your definition of compassion? Do you catch yourself judging others? (I know I do.) Do you long for an open and happy heart? (I do.) 

25 comments:

  1. Hello Bish, you expressed the differences between pity and compassion so well. I’m afraid I’m guilty of feeling really bad about something (like badger culling or fox hunting) but doing very little about it. I get involved with online campaigns, sign petitions and share on social media, but I don’t actually go out and protest – perhaps I should. As for judging others, I’m afraid I’m as guilty of that as most other people. I do have a kind heart and wish for the best for mankind, so I am thankful for that, but I must do better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You aren't alone, Barbara. I just as guilty as anyone else when it comes to feeling bad about something and not doing. It's about trying to do better from this moment that really matters.

      Delete
  2. Great topic, Bish. I especially like the Dalai Lama's definition of compassion. We all need lots of compassion right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, the more compassion the better off we'll be.

      Delete
  3. That's my favorite passage in the Bible. Compassion without acts is meaningless.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What an exquisite post. Compassion is something we all need more of.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Bish - I like the use of the word 'compassion' and try and think of others as I go about my life ... but suffering with them, being there for them - going that extra mile. I went with some friends to see the Dalai Lama in London last year - he's an amazing man with some very wise words and thoughts ...

    I do judge others, wish I didn't, but I'm so thankful for being alive and able to do things within my power to help others ... and as I talk with friends I try and put myself in their position, so there's empathy too - to their path in life .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm envious (sigh...) that you got to see the Dalai Lama. I would love to have that experience. And, I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to judging, though I'm much better as catching myself when I do it. Keep up the good work.

      Delete
  6. True compassion is like agape love - something we need to strive for.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If we all had more compassion, our world wouldn't be in such turmoil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. Compassion is about inclusivity, loving our enemies, and recognizing God in each and every human being. Namaste.

      Delete
  8. Very profound and absolutely spot on. The greatest compassion of all happened when Christ Jesus died and arose.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Such a good choice. Thank you.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a lovely, and important lesson. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. People struggle with this? ;) I think this is actually one of my downfalls because I get very invested in people, and then I feel their sorrows, and I want to help make things right for them, but the reality is, usually only they can change their lives. It's been heartbreaking on so many occasions, but my brother calls this one of my strengths--because I care. Sometimes too much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you, Crystal. Knowing when to help and when to step away can be a difficult choice to make.

      Delete
  12. This is some great advice Bish. Thanks for sharing. I created a new google collection just to add this post so I can easily find it. I enjoy helping others but even I sometimes have allowed anger to creep in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm honored to be in your collection. Thank you!

      Delete
  13. Compassion is so important and it can be hard to feel so much. But, looking at other people and realizing they have struggles you know nothing about is important. Great post!
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete

Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!