Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Three Steps to Compassion

I think that compassion is the point of life.

How can we do it better?  

Being better at compassion - building these relationships - is the key to a successful life by any measure. This last week I've been quoting the christian philosopher/priest Henri Nouwen, who, I think, gives clear,  direct, challenging guidance for compassion. How did Nouwen get good at compassion?  

 First, Henri let go of the mistake of isolation:
"If we cling tightly to our own weaknesses, faults, shortcomings, and our twisted past, to all the events, facts, and situations which we would prefer to cut out of our own history, we are only hiding behind a hedge through which everyone else can see. What we have done is to narrow our world to a small hiding place where we try to conceal ourselves, suspecting rather pitifully that everyone has seen us all along."
Second, Henri stopped comparing himself with others:
"Compassion grows with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you. This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate. Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, and destined for the same end."
Third, finally, Henri learned to embrace the faults of others (long, worth reading):
"There is nothing in me that does not belong to them, too. There is nothing in them that does not belong to me, too. In my heart, I know their yearning for love and down to my entrails, I can feel their cruelty. When someone murders, I know that I too could have murdered, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of birth as well. In the depths of my being, I meet my fellow humans with whom I share love and hate, life and death."

Satellites: what miscommunication?
Henri says that everything that happens after - communication, acts of love, breaking organizational barriers of love - comes naturally. Once the spirit of compassion (coughcough Holy Spirit) fills our mind, barriers become challenges that we can feasibly overcome.

With the rise of global communications, we can witness the scope of humanity as a species. Moving forward as our tools and tech continue to improve,  
the challenges to global unity are mindset, not logistics.

We are living in a great time. Take Nouwen's advice and get in the compassion mindset!

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