Going by the dictionary definition, compassion is ‘the sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress, together with the desire to alleviate it’. Compassion, therefore is the highest form of empathy and is a quality or attribute that elevates both the giver and the receiver of compassion – it stems from a non-judgemental acceptance of the other, and fosters an inner soul connect that allows the compassionate individual to act in a manner that is helpful to the suffering individual and facilitates relief as well.
Compassion is also a state of being that allows one to perceive and experience the suffering of another, and allows one to help alleviate the pain in some manner. Compassion aims to transform a suffering individual, enabling them to rise above the pain and distress.
How does the suffering individual rise above the pain and distress? The very presence of the energy of compassion in their personal space makes it happen. Compassion contributes to relieving the pain by providing the support from within, helping the suffering individual realize that he or she is not alone because of the compassion that they are experiencing.
Compassion may need to take on different hues as per the requirement of the recipient – being compassionate is not necessarily always saying ‘yes’ ; sometimes a firm ‘no’ could be an act of compassion . ‘Holding back’ may be an act of compassion and sometimes ‘letting go’ would be an act of compassion. Actively lending a helping hand could also be a compassionate action, and refraining from helping in order to facilitate independence of the other can also be an act of compassion. Keeping a secret could be an act of compassion and sometimes letting the relevant people know the truth, would be compassion.
The line of definition of compassion is not always evident to the onlooker; but the truly compassionate one recognises the need and acts in a manner that empowers the person receiving the compassion, thereby resulting in their holistic good. While the process may be different, the end result is pure joy – compassion understands that.
Hence, one may be extremely caring at times , or firm ,or, maybe even ‘harshly’ truthful in the expression of one’s compassion as per the need.
A person is in need of some monetary support and we compassionately give it. A person needs help with learning and we are compassionate enough to share our learning with him or her . These are examples of occasions where the expression of compassion appears kind and positive . But sometimes, being compassionate may appear harsh, for example, if we need to teach a special child how to tie a shoe lace and we see the child suffering through the learning experience, we do not interfere in the learning experience although it is difficult because we know that the final outcome is empowerment for life . Hence , while the process may be difficult, the result is pure joy .
The first stage of being compassionate , therefore , is to be empathetic , and the next, is to try and alleviate the suffering of the other , and the third stage is to keep a clear goal in mind in order to strengthen the individual receiving the compassion , and to see to it that in the long run, he/she is truly empowered.
Compassion does not allow self-pity, does not allow wallowing in sorrow, and does not allow weakness to exist in the other. True compassion only focuses on the individual becoming strong, resilient, hardworking towards the end result , so that the goal we have set actually fructifies.
Being compassionate to oneself is also a quality one has to develop, because everyone is born with limitations and being compassionate to oneself allows us to transcend those very limitations. At the same time, being overly compassionate to oneself , or the other, to a point where we create a weakness in the receiver of the compassion, is not compassion at all.
In the world parlance, normally when we say that he or she is compassionate, we only think of the outpouring of love – that is of course the underlying truth and very nature of compassion, but one needs to recognise that its manifestation takes into account the actual need of the hour and modifies itself accordingly.
These are the dimensions of compassion that we must keep in mind , therefore , while being compassionate or even while developing the value of compassion within us
So let us develop the quality of compassion as being a part of ourselves and facilitate qualitative change within ourselves and in the lives of those within our circle of love .
~ by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar