Jack, a family man and a well-to-do executive, lost his teenage son to gang violence. Jamie, his son, was accidently shot while passing through a ghetto. For years, jack suffered unbearably due to anger and resentment and an intense desire to seek revenge. Jack got his revenge when the killer of his son, a black young man, was sentenced to life in prison. However, Jack’s suffering did not go away. Every time he saw a young black man, his body would burn with rage until one day when he decided to visit the ghettos where his son was fatally shot. He wanted to visit the parents of the gunman to let them know that their son was a killer and how much pain he had caused.
Walking through the ghettos, seeing enormous poverty and hardship, for the first time, Jack realized how much suffering there was in the world. When Jack met the parents of the gunman and heard their story, everything changed. Jack came to know how the gunman was orphaned at a very young age and later adopted by his parents, how he had struggled for survival, how he had struggled to stay in school, and how he fought with various physical ailments. As Jack was listening to the gunman’s parents who were crying uncontrollably as they were sharing their story, for the first time, Jack felt that the killer was not an evildoer but a victim.
A bit of compassion had aroused in Jack. It made possible for Jack to see the evildoer as someone who was diseased and suffering desperately needing love.
Soon after, Jack founded an organization to help the ghetto dwellers. He persuaded the parents of the gunman to enroll in his organization and went with them around the country visiting ghettos and gangs, raising awareness about the ill effects of poverty and violence, and encouraging gang members to stay committed to health and education. Later, Jack stated that ever since he started the work of compassion, his anger and resentment had gradually reduced until it was completely gone within days.
In your life, you may have encountered evildoers so bad that, due to your temperament, you simply cannot develop loving-kindness towards them in a way which we discussed in the previous newsletter. Towards such evildoers, cultivate compassion. It is easier to do so. Why easier? Compassion makes you see the evildoer as someone who is not outright lovable (as in case of loving-kindness practice) but as someone who is diseased and suffering desperately needing love.
That which makes it possible to see and feel the suffering in us and others, and to promote the eradication of that suffering is compassion. Like loving-kindness, it is a phenomenon that arises due to understanding the nature of things.
You can test the power of compassion by arousing it for your worst enemy and noticing how quickly it cools down the fire of hatred and cruelty. While dealing with a hostile person, if we arouse compassion, it makes us look at the hostile person as someone who is suffering from anger, hatred, and ignorance.
SOUL RESEARCH INSTITUTE NEWSLETTER, OCTOBER 30, 2010
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"..The moment we understand our enemy, he/she is no longer our enemy.."
Thich Nhat Hanh
"Understanding suffering automatically leads to a response..we call it compassion."
"Make no judgements where you have no compassion."
"Compassion brings us to a stop...and for a moment...
we rise above ourselves."
"Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circle of compassion..."
Because of our compassionate outlook, we feel relaxed and calm (instead of experiencing the burning heat of anger) which results in an intense urge to alleviate the suffering of the other person.
Because compassion makes it possible to see suffering and inclines us to remove the suffering, instead of reacting to someone’s hostility, we act with sympathy, empathy, consideration, and kindness.
Compassion not only makes us non-hostile towards other people, it also makes other people non-hostile towards us. Due to compassion, we win the war for both parties!
While established in some degree of loving-kindness, if we see a diseased or destitute person, compassion arises and not disgust.
Do not misunderstand compassion as that which generates sorrow, grief, and sadness. In order to avoid such failures of compassion, we have to combine compassion with equanimity.
The divine quality of compassion will become clearer to you when you practice the compassion meditations discussed on our website. (See links to the right of this column.)
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"The Elements of Soul"
If we use loving-kindness and compassion together, we can skillfully handle challenging life situations.
Loving-kindness arises when we see others as lovable. So it is very difficult to arouse it when we deal with an unjust, hostile, or evil person. However, compassion arises when we see others as beings in suffering. So when someone is angry with you, arouse compassion for that person first and then let loving-kindness seep in. When you are angry with someone, arouse loving-kindness for yourself first and then let compassion seep in. In this way, let compassion and loving-kindness together engulf you and others in all life situations. Let goodwill, welfare, friendliness, non-hatred, non-meanness, and peace prevail at all times and at any cost.
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Sunday Gathering and Potluck
Sam Adettiwar will conduct the workshop starting Sunday, October 24, 2010 through November 2010. Timings as usual (see below).
Come and go anytime as you likeNO FEES. JUST PRACTICE.
10.00-10.30am: Soul Yoga
10.30-11.00am: Soul Breathing
11.00-11.30am: Meditation Workshop
Noon - 12.30pm: Potluck (Veg.)
12.30 - Whatever: Noble Discussion
Where: Fire Dept. Hall: 2490 Research Parkway, Briargate Area, Colorado Springs, CO