I was reading the blog I wrote in December of 2009 titled “Season of Compassion” and reflecting on what it really means to have compassion. The dictionary defines it as “sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.”
Okay, I get that. What I also notice is that ones desire to help can come from a myriad of places within ourselves…i.e. assuaging our guilt about our own good fortune, a conditioned belief that giving makes one a “good person”, the fear that not giving makes one bad, etc.
One of the things I wrestle with is the sense that giving from a place of “I have it – you don’t” seems to minimize anothers’ humanity. Somehow the receiver is seen as “less than” because they are without something they “should” have.
Then, I came across this quote…
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. Gregory Boyle
Aha! Coming from a place of knowing that we are all equals – i.e. that which animates me is the same as that which animates you – brings a holy dynamic to any interaction. In the movie Avatar – the two main characters turn to one another and say, “I SEE you”. It’s a very powerful moment and one that really resonated with me. After all, don’t we all want to be seen? Really SEEN?
To see another as an equal and adequate to their life experience profoundly affects the relationship and changes the flavor of “giving” to one of “sharing”. It’s a subtle, but important distinction. We see a need, we address it – sometimes the giver, sometimes the receiver. Not a one-up or one-down – simply a covenant between equals.
First and foremost, nurture compassion for yourself and the tyranny of your own mind. After all, joy is compassion turned inward. Compassion for yourself allows you to give from that place of joy and lights you up from within. You can then reflect that light back to another, allowing them to see it within themselves.
From that place of joy, seeing the adequacy of all human beings, (including yourself!) you share what you can, where you can, because you can.