Positive Possibilities: Compassion, Pity and Empathy, by Parvati Devi

Image credit: Alice Popkorn

As we evolve spiritually, we cannot help but feel moved by the suffering we see in the world. An impulse to help alleviate pain is a natural reflection of our inherent humanity. Sitting on our meditation cushion often gives rise to a greater sense of how connected we are, and as such, that our compassionate actions can serve the world. Through compassion, we rest in our underlying sense of oneness. We are humbly no better than or worse than others, but feel connected to all through love.

 We must remember, however, that compassion is a sophisticated state of being. As the Buddhists say, its ‘near enemy’ is pity, which is very different than compassion. When we feel pity, we are positioning ourselves as separate from another, usually somehow above them. In compassion, we rest in the understanding of our inherent oneness.

Along the road to compassion, we learn to empathize. We can open our hearts to others’ suffering. In compassion, “no-self” exists. This is a beautiful and profound state, something we can aspire to, but most of us experience less frequently than we may think. It does not mean we should not strive for such! We need to. Our world is desperately hungry for more love and true compassion. We simply must not mistake our good intentions with true compassion. We must make sure that we are not acting from ego when we are doing “good deeds”.

The ego is a tricky thing and will find any window to slip through and express itself. We have all heard the popular aphorism, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Perhaps some of our good deeds are this, an aspect of our ego, our human shadow, feeling a self-righteous, self-inflated sense of “me” because we perceive ourselves as “right” over the “wrong” that “they” are doing “over there”. No love can come from such divided thinking.

I leave you with two quotes from a realized master who embodies compassionate action. Her guidance is an inspiration for us all to learn to live in compassion:

“There is love and Love. You love your family — your father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, etc. But you do not love your neighbour. You love your son or daughter, but you do not love all children. You love your father and mother, but you do not love everyone the way you love your father and mother. You love your religion, but you do not love all religions. Likewise, you have love for your country, but you do not love all countries. Hence, this is not Love; it is only love. Transformation of this love to Love is the goal of spirituality. In the fullness of Love blossoms the beautiful, fragrant flower of compassion.”

“The common expression is ‘I love you.’ But instead of ‘I love you,’ it would be better to say, ‘I am love — I am the embodiment of pure love.’ Remove the I and you, and you will find that there is only love. It is as if love is imprisoned between the I and you. Remove the I and you, for they are unreal; they are self-imposed walls that don’t exist. The gulf between I and you is the ego. When the ego is removed the distance disappears and the I and you also disappear. They merge to become one — and that is love. You lend the I and you their reality. Withdraw your support and they will disappear. Then you will realise, not that ‘I love you,’ but that ‘I am that all-embracing love.’”

– Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma)

To help you cultivate more compassion in your life, practice the Meditation EVERYONE WANTS TO BE LOVED in this issue.

Wishing you much compassion and joy.

Parvati

Parvati headshotParvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine and an internationally recognized Canadian musician, yogi and new thought leader. As a chart-topping touring musician, Parvati spearheads the Post New-Age musical genre with her independent success hit single “Yoga in the Nightclub”. She founded YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, a powerful yoga method that combines energy work and yoga poses. Her critically acclaimed self-help debut book “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie – A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker” is currently in its third edition.

For more information on Parvati, please visit www.parvati.tv.

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