DOING WHAT YOU WANT WHILE CULTIVATING COMPASSION
Do what you want! At first glance, that seems like a simple enough piece of advice however when put into practice, it can get to be rather confusing and at times even painful. A spiritual teacher of mine recently shared a story where he was told this by his guru: “Do what you want”. Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Krishna Das where we discussed many things including suffering, equanimity, and compassion. Many of us shared what it means for us to live with an open heart, how we cultivate our spiritual practice and what the implications are of, “doing what you want.”
I left the workshop feeling cleansed of personal gunk and full of something else I couldnt really articulate. There were so many different topics bouncing around the room yet everything flowed so nicely into each other that the 3 hours gently melted away. When the day came to a close, I got in my car and drove into the mountains; I felt a sense of urgency to connect the dots in my sometimes overly intellectual mind. I felt a bit like a pin ball zig zagging around; bouncing between just sitting and being with the experience while also feeling the drive to logically solve the puzzle of how it is all connected.
In any case, I have done a little of both, because after all, that is what I want to do. What struck me more than anything from that afternoon are two statements I have already touched upon – “Do what you want” – which is what Krishna Das was told by his guru when he was seeking advice about what to do when he returned to the USA after years of living as a devotee in India. The other statement that made an impact is something that Krishna Das said very casually, “Enemies are just two people suffering.” I have been sitting with these two thoughts for about a week now getting a sense of their connection and what it means to me.
In terms of relationships of any kind; enemies are born out of a lack of compassion and an abundance of confusion, often a result of two people trying to get what they want in very different ways. People feel compelled to say and do certain things when what they want is not in alignment with what they feel they are getting. When actions to get what one wants come from a place of suffering; confusion, dysfunction and hurt ensues. Often times, people are coming from this place not to be malicious, but as a side effect of a lack of self-awareness. As an example, “I feel hurt and therefore I will hurt you”, however, it is rarely comes from that level of awareness. Even better and more often the inner dialogue goes as such, “I am suffering, I will hurt myself more. “ And again, it is very rare that those thoughts are in the forefront of one’s awareness.
Alternatively, cultivating a sense of compassion and meeting people and yourself in that in that space can begin to end the spiral of suffering. Cultivating compassion does not mean you have to agree with someone or like how they are operating in their lives, not being enemies does not mean you need to be friends and to love there is no prerequisite to like. Cultivating a sense of compassion in how you approach the world can look as simple this “I see that you are trying to manifest what you want in the only way you know how, right now, I am doing it a different way.” As it so often goes, this is clearly much simpler in words than it is in action.
I want to share a practice that I discovered a few years ago that helps me meet people in a place of compassion rather than a place a judgment, hurt or resentment, it is from “The Compassion Project”. It is gentle reminder that everyone is doing things in the only way they know how and we are all essentially seeking out the same things; love, peace, contentment and the felt sense of being seen (just to name a few). Please take a moment to read just a bit further and see if this could be useful in your life.
Objective: To increase the amount of compassion in the world.
Expected Result: A personal sense of peace.
Instructions -This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, malls, parks, beaches, etc.). It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively, from some distance. Try to do all five steps on the same person.
Step 1 – With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for his/her life.”
Step 2 – With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
Step 3 – With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.”
Step 4 – With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs.”
Step 5 – With attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
- To be done by couples and family members to increase understanding of each other.
- To be done on old enemies and antagonists still present in your memories.
- To be done on other life forms.
For more information on Jessica and her healing practice in Canandaigua NY, please visit her website @ www.sacredpathwaysguidancecenter.com or call 585-935-1917
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