Compassion as a Way of Life

As a person of faith, I am constantly asking myself what does it mean to live a life of compassion? This time, I decided to also talk to my friends about it as well as researching various words. As you read over our conversations, what would our world be like if we all began having THIS conversation with each other rather than focusing on our differences? This is not a blog with answers, but it is at least a place to start.

“Use compassion, not anger, to motivate you to protect yourself, and [have] compassion toward the person who’s giving you the trouble. Compassion rather than hate is what helps.”  ~Gelek Rinpoche, “What to Do When the Anger Gets Hot”

I wanted to write about Compassion because in this crazy year, it seems that our world is missing some important elements that make life tolerable. Part of my meditative practice is to focus on compassion and mercy. In order to start a conversation, I put the question out to my friends on social media,

What is compassion to you?”

Because our world is in pain, all of us are in need of compassion. My hope is that if you read this blog, you begin to think about what compassion means to you. Then, we must begin to talk about how to put our understanding into action for our neighbors, friends, families, enemies, and even ourselves. Here are the messages that these dear people share about what compassion means:

“To me, it’s emotionally informed intelligence of the fact that people really are doing the best they can. For example, if someone is failing miserably and destructively in a powerful position (choose a name), the compassionate thing would be to remove that person from the position before more damage is done.” ~Karen Novak

“…being able to recognize that someone is in “their own” bubble of a life that may be entirely different than what I perceive it to be . . . don’t make assumptions.” ~Sharyl Rivard-Guilmette

“Well, first off, it’s a verb… Just like Love…. Compassion is best defined by an action, no matter how small, that lets others know you care. That even when you can’t “know” how they feel, you can acknowledge that they, and their struggle, matter. That you exude nonjudgmental vibes.” ~Susan Stiles Parsons

Darby LoganLoving the hardest people to love.

Joy Robin Whitley Not being picky but trying to clarify okay? What do you mean when you say “love”? Everyone practices that word in different ways.

Darby Logan Yes, they do. Most people at some point in their lives will encounter a person(s) that is the exact opposite of giving, nurturing, compassionate, agreeable or accepting of anything other than their own agendas. It’s easy to just dismiss them as that, unlovable. Instead of understanding or trying to understand how they could have become the way they are or are choosing to be. This doesn’t mean a disregard of self. It defines a level of acceptance and understanding that creates compassion. It is a gift that requires practice.

Joy Robin Whitley yes. I love Frederick Buechner’s description as love means working for one’s wellbeing.

Here’s the long and beautiful version. https://www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of…/2016/6/29/love

“Compassion, to me, is a God gift. I believe he allows some the gift of song, some the gift of leadership, etc. But to everyone willing to accept it, he gives the ability to catalog one’s own life experiences to offer their best response to another’s unspoken cry for help.” ~Susan Beckham

“Compassion is being aware of the interconnectedness of life. It’s realizing that we are each other.”  ~Robert Lovejoy

“Compassion is caring about and trying to understand and sympathize with the situation of another person.”  ~Kay Clontz Starnes

“Finding a Polyphemus Giant Silk moth caterpillar, googling to find out what it is and what its needs are, and setting it up in a safe place with a pile of dead leaves that it immediately crawled into so it could cocoon for the winter.” ~Phyllis Zickmund

©2020 Photo by Phyllis Zickmund. Used with Permission.

 

“Deep understanding of walking a mile in the shoes of another. El Que qiere entender como tener compasion tiene que en verdad caminar una milla en Los Zapatos de su priximo.” ~Ceasar Martinez

“Understanding or showing concern for others.” ~Stephanie Barber

“Caring that someone else is hurting.” ~Karen Hunter Miller

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What is Compassion?[1] From a linguistic point of view.

compassion (n.)

“feeling of sorrow or deep tenderness for one who is suffering or experiencing misfortune,” mid-14c., compassioun, literally “a suffering with another,” from Old French compassion “sympathy, pity” (12c.), from Late Latin compassionem (nominative compassio) “sympathy,” noun of state from past participle stem of compati “to feel pity,” from com “with, together” (see com-) + pati “to suffer” (see passion).

Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia (see sympathy). Sometimes in Middle English it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another. An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.[2]

σπλαγχνίζομαι splanchnízomai, splangkh-nid’-zom-ahee; middle voice from G4698; to have the bowels yearn, i.e. (figuratively) feel sympathy, to pity: —have compassion…

to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence, to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)[3]

[1] https://www.billmounce.com/search/node/compassion%20type%3Alexicon

[2] https://www.etymonline.com/word/compassion

[3] https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/splanchnizomai

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