On Friday, February 20th, all around the world thousands of people came together to write, tweet, sing, paint and speak out in the name and practice of compassion. The idea started a couple of months ago when several bloggers were sharing ideas of gratitude and began wondering what would happen if they gathered a 1,000 (or more) voices together to write about compassion and focus on the good in the world. On that day, compassion and #1000Speak showed just what can happen when thousands of us come together for good. And at the core of that compassion, I can’t help but believe it all boils down to the spirit behind the word Namaste’.
Have you heard the word Namaste’ before? While it is becoming more and more common, especially if you take yoga or study eastern religions like Buddhism or Hinduism, it remains somewhat fringy for many people. But simply put, the word Namaste’ means, “The spirit in me acknowledges the spirit in you.” It is normally said with a slight bow and palms facing one another next to your heart. And although it is a Hindu word and relates to their particular view of “spirit,” the word Namaste’ actually applies regardless of what religion (if any) you practice. Again, the idea behind it is that the highest and most noble part of me, salutes and acknowledges the highest and most noble part of you.
When I first began thinking of what I would write about compassion, I immediately started digging through my bookshelf and researching on the Internet. I came up with some really great quotes like:
“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings.” ~Thomas Merton
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures. ~Lao Tzu
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~Jack Kornfield
“I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it.” ~Thomas Aquinas
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön
And while all these great thoughts about compassion add to the puzzle of what makes for a compassionate life, they are mostly just fingers pointing at the bigger spirit behind compassion. That’s why, after spending some time contemplating compassion, I realized that if I could get in, and stay in, the consciousness of Namaste’, I would experience compassion in each and every thing I do.
Do I live the consciousness of Namaste’? Not enough. Much of the time I’m distracted, busy with something, or just plain tired. In those times I forget who I am, forget who others are, and lose myself in the thought that I am a separate, unconnected physical being. But whenever I take the time to pause, slow down, and remember, feel, and acknowledge my own Spiritual nature, then I am able to look into another and see the same there. Then when I feel the God energy within me, when I know the Source of my Being, and see the same in others, how could I not act in the most compassionate way possible?
I’m aware that most people think of compassion as service to others. Definitions abound that say compassion is meeting another where they are emotionally, physically and spiritually. But while kindness and empathy are critical to living a compassionate life, unless I am willing to come from a place of Namaste’, I just might be projecting my lack thoughts, my fears, and my terror onto another rather than truly seeing the Spirit within them as a place of Light and Perfection.
This does not deny that there are some very challenging, difficult and downright terrifying experiences happening in the world and to different people at this very minute. But when I go to that place of Light within myself that I truly believe exists, perhaps the very best I can offer another is to see that same Light within them. Acknowledging all others in such a clear and true fashion might be the most compassionate thing possible.
Every single writer, singer, artist, speaker and fellow #1000 Voices of Compassion has shared their unique perspective on Compassion with the world—adding to the global good. But something I’m sure we will all agree on is that the time for more compassion is NOW. If my perspective about compassion works for you, let’s each take just a moment today (and every day) to practice compassion for each other, compassion for our planet, compassion for every living being—by radiating the spirit of Namaste’ around the world. Regardless of how you define compassion, know that it is SMART to recognize the power of collective wellbeing however and where ever we find it.
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