Compassion is the desire to relieve all suffering. As defined by the Greater Good Science Center, “compassion literally means ‘to suffer together’. Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” To suffer is to experience a state of duress on the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual planes. This state is prevalent in our world and it’s evolution though I don’t believe the absence of suffering to be the end goal but more the absence of suffering to be a result of a state of acceptance.
It’s the idea that we’re all interconnected—what one person is feeling, so too is another—that brings us to a place where we can begin to understand each other because if you are suffering, then so too am I. Compassion is not a place where we are expected to join in another’s misery, but more an understanding through sensing and feeling, the opportunity to choose to be present for what is arising in ways that are supportive, and create space for each other to Be who we are.
At our cores, all of us are good. When we create positive conditions for people to rise up, they begin to heal their own suffering. We only need what Mother Nature intended for us…a nurturing place to hold and care deeply for one another. Having compassion or relieving someone’s pain is not about trying to change their circumstances but the desire to lead them back to their center, to a sort of internal meeting place.
I think when we arrive here, in this meeting place, we find the space we need to grow and evolve, to create pathways to relieve our own suffering. Our role as compassionate people is to stay present with our emotions and those of others, not trying to change anything, but meeting at this place with an attitude of accepting what is.
There is definitely motivation to help relieve the suffering of other but it’s not a quick fix. It’s about creating opportunities and conditions for all beings to be at peace. After all, peace is a divine birthright and everyone on the planet has a role to play. So the question is, how can we bring about awareness and lead from this place?
I believe that we need to get right with ourselves first. As taught by the Dalai Lama, we need to heal our own hearts before we can heal the hearts of others. We can foster compassion and loving kindness in the world while we learn the teachings of self-compassion. Simply by changing our attitudes and opening our hearts to others and all beings, we create conditions for peace and harmony in the world. I truly believe that to relieve the suffering of the world, all we need to do is support one another and ourselves with pure intention. This compassion is enough to make a difference and change our current course of direction.
Love and light,