We hear this word said frequently.  The definition is to ” have a deep sympathy and sorrow for another struck by misfortune accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the  suffering.” (  I find empathy to be a critical part of compassion.  Empathy is trying to walk in another’s shoes.  You feel sorrow, not sorry for, the person.  Feeling sorry for someone is pity and does not respect their experience of suffering and looks down upon them.  Sorrow is sadness- being sad someone else is suffering.  Compassion is action as well.  If you feel the emotions, yet do nothing, it is not compassion.

We think of compassion in the sense of something we feel for others.  What would it look like if we had compassion for ourselves?  All humans experience misfortune and suffering.  What does it mean to have compassion for ourselves?

I came upon this meme on Face Book.  What does this mean?  In one sense, is including ourselves a form of empathy? Getting actively involved to help or comfort someone?  Or is it also showing compassion and gentleness for ourselves when we experience suffering?

Perhaps it is all of the above.  Perhaps it is more.

Leave a comment with your thoughts.  It could be an interesting conversation.

spiritual journeying

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”– His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

This quote hits home for me.  So often, we look to complicated dogma to comprehend our spiritual lives.  Our spiritual celebrations and beliefs are tied to written texts and often the interpretation of the texts by people other than ourselves.   It is an easy way to find answers to deep questions.   The work is done by another.  All that is needed is to follow the rules and all is well.   As humans, we seek to understand purpose for our lives.  We try to comprehend the Creative Deity.   We place Deity in a box of written traditions. 

Over the years, I found formal religion unsatisfying.  I keep seeking for a deeper understanding and often found myself uncomfortable with the actions and beliefs of formal religion.  I was seeking meaning, not form.

This quote speaks of spiritual freedom.  And responsibility.  Kindness is to others and to ourselves.  We cannot harm another in the living of our lives.   I am not Buddhist.  Yet, I can learn from his wisdom. 

I find myself more drawn back to the Path of Wicca.   Wicca is often misunderstood.   It is not satan worship.   Wicca celebrates the Deity in the form of Goddess and God.  It is a religion of balance and responsibility.  There is no formal, written dogma.  Spiritually, you are responsible for your own Path and discovering how your spirituality applies to your life.  A primary tenet that underscores Wicca is “an it harm none, do as you will.”  Sounds easy.  Yet,  I have to consider every action from the perspective of how it will impact not only myself but others.  There is accountability in the form of the Three Fold Law.  What we send out, we get back.  Ever notice this?  If you send out negative energy, you get negative back.  Every action has consequences; some positive, some negative.   Wicca is a spirituality of balance.  In all honesty, I consider myself more an eclectic Pagan than a “card carrying Wiccan.”  I learn from all sources.  Including the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama posed that our temple is ourselves.  We can connect to Deity anywhere, anytime.    Wicca is closely tied with nature and the cycle of seasons.  We can have altars in our homes, or in places outside.  But, although we have formal tools we don’t need them.  Our own minds and spirits are all we truly need. 

Kindness… With kindness is compassion.  Kindness is action.  It can be simple in our daily lives; smile at the clerk at the store and be patient when the line moves slowly, let someone into traffic while driving, tell someone special that you love them.   Kindness and compassion is service.  Work to make your area of the world a little better.  We often think at the macro level.  We have the mistaken impression that we have to be rich or famous or do some huge accomplishment in order to make the world a better place.  Truthfully, we don’t.   We can make our families a safe, happy place to grow and live.  We can make a difference in our community.  Sometimes, we can make one person’s life better.   Like throwing a stone in a lake, our kindness ripples out, getting larger and touching more people as the people we touched help others. 

When I started on my career, like most inexperienced social workers, I thought I could help everyone.  Change is difficult.  And the problems faced by many of the people I work with are huge.  In truth, I can’t heal anyone.  They must heal themselves.  I am a guide, a coach, a friend.  Sometimes I push, sometimes I just listen with compassion.  I hold hope that their lives can improve.   Yet, I know I make a difference.   

How are you living kindness? 

Outcast lives seeking
Compassion’s gentle embrace
Healing, hope, kindness