Voice of Compassion

Find me where the pull desires gratitude and compassion…
                                                                        Denise Richard

Like most qualities of heart compassion is mysterious. Perhaps the mystery can be likened to an expression of lightness and clarity that naturally shifts a situation by virtue of its spaciousness. Compassionate action can penetrate impossible situations; where rigid states of mind or debilitating loss stake the strongest hold. Compassion defies logic, and can help mend the broken heart because it asks nothing more than to exist – a  basic human right.

When it comes to personal explorations with compassion, it’s a journey. Every day, every moment like every breath offers new configurations to play with. Often when asked about its more tangible qualities, I commonly hear people describe it as simple kindness, or a feeling of empathy. That state is openness of heart; which can feel quite natural to some, an effortless way of response, and very confusing and challenging to others. For many there is issue as to how to foster, how to respond compassionately to ourselves and others when deep dark feelings confuse or cloud the way. This responsibility and ability to respond is what I call a practice, a muscle that needs its workout regularly, otherwise rigidity, tightness, holding inhibits its unique flow.

How we practice is personal, but a key ingredient is desire. Without the desire for compassionate action, there is no intrigue or delight to pull us through the eye of needle when the waters are challenging. This desire guides us to find the appropriate way in practice and the right people to help reflect its gentle consciousness. With practice there is a growing discernment, a quality of filtering or an ability to gage the subtle promptings that reveal our resistance to this lightness. And here only the heart can divulge the truest way. Occasionally the truest action is not what we may expect. If compassion was mere empathy, it would require nothing more than observation to move us to remain in its light. I take for example the challenge of parents raising teenagers, wanting to maintain that empathetic or compassionate consciousness, and yet at the end of the day, the action taken can look hardnosed and downright unkind. Similarly, on a personal level, when dealing with that part of us that is unruly, the compassionate action includes choosing the most tender, gentle and direct way; requiring at times a snip, cut and limit to behaviours that sabotage and destroy. So taken to its extreme, compassion can feel like a knife, a sharp edge that delineates where to draw the line. So compassion is not the perpetual permission slip that gives endlessly to our neurotic needs as it holds within an edge that tells us what to let go of so that we can bathe in a greater light. Without this conscious action of letting go, without the snip and cut, life will not tailor to our growth – we have to choose it. And so as we meet deep emotions and challenging thoughts that scare us and move us, we see that these become the vessel that holds us and teaches compassionate nature.

With meeting ourselves we learn of compassion's unique way of sustaining tenderness and soothing, gently yet powerfully fostering equanimity. It is perhaps the ultimate vehicle for change beckoning continuous exploration, gratitude and rectification. Compassion is a truly formidable force; it’s the little tugboat capable of guiding our soul well beyond what seemingly appears to be unmanageable.

Copyright Denise Richard