As our awareness of spirituality unfolds through practice and inner guidance, we see that practice itself is a great teacher. We have gained some sense of understanding about the inner weather of our minds. Emotions create terrains of physical environments; some pleasant to encounter, some not. We learn to traverse them without judgment. Thoughts arise from those terrains; some pleasant, some not. We learn to traverse them without trying to push them away. We begin to understand that thoughts are like the wind; some gust mightily and others caress gently. Our practice has taught us one thought is no different than another thought, as in the realization that non-practice can be practice. This way of knowing has become an anchor in our day to day lives.
Our spiritual practice is tethered both in the material world and in the inner landscape of spirit. And yet, before us, a shimmering stone is beginning to appear. We feel we have become kinder people. We understand that everyone we meet wishes to have the same thing we do. We wish to have happiness and joy. We wish suffering and pain to fade away into non-existence. We feel a little lighter and freer because our awareness has expanded and we see the material world through the lens of a greater peace.
Compassion, we soon discover, is not a philosophy nor is it truly a feeling. Yet when we feel it, we are being inspired to act. Compassion is always an action. So this new stepping stone that is leading us deeper into the landscape of spirituality is a beacon for actions we must learn to take. If meditation is our practice, it’s as if we must get off our cushions and go out into the material world and behave very differently than we are used to doing.
True compassion challenges our sense of altruism. Aren’t we supposed to give it all away to someone else, someone needier than ourselves? But how can you really give away to others what you have not given to yourself? Compassion is a way of being in the world that is as life-affirming as water. If you give away all of your compassion by being everything to everyone, you will soon be empty of energy. When we are giving too much away to others and giving nothing to ourselves, we may feel resentful, annoyed, or frustrated.
At the same time compassion means not turning away from the suffering of others. Being fully present is a prerequisite for extending true compassion. When we are not attending our own health and well-being or when we are sacrificing our own vital needs, how can we truly know what another person needs to sustain their health and well-being?
The key to standing on this shimmering stone that seems to disappear as soon as you step upon it, is to realize that compassion is true refuge from suffering. Mysterious and ephemeral; it is a pure reflection of inner joy. When we extend our compassionate action toward ourselves, we become connected to a source so powerful, we must extend it outward into the material world.
This.. the The Spiritual Element of Compassion