It’s been another interesting summer. For myself, many comings and goings (With reference to “The Diary of a Noboby”, George and Weedon Grossmith). So apologies for my absence. It’s time for me to get back to my studies.
Meanwhile the world seems to be spinning on its axis again, although it still seems to have the odd wobble now and again – Covid, Afghanistan, memories of 9/11… the list goes on.
So, I was trying to think of a subject to write about, when a good friend asked me if I had any inspirational ideas for her school assembly talks. The current subject being “Compassion”.
A good word, especially when the news is filled with so much suffering and pain along with anger, strife, conflict and human rights abuses. Again, the list goes on… So, here goes…
Many equate the word compassion with empathy and sympathy for another and their situation. Maybe even pity and concern for their sufferings and misfortunes. However, the word itself is made of two parts and literally means, “to suffer with”. A sharing of suffering; now that’s a different kettle of fish. It is easy to look at a situation and express concern and even have sympathy for those involved, but to truly share in their situation, even their pain…
Recently I heard story recounted by the Dalai Lama of his meeting with a monk who had been imprisoned, tortured and placed in solitary confinement for long periods. It is a challenging example.
His holiness enquired as to the monk’s experience.
“I was in great danger…”, the monk replied.
“Danger of what?”, his holiness enquired with a certain urgency in his voice.
“I was in danger of losing compassion for my captors!”
On the face of it, it’s almost humorous. However, it was said with utter conviction and seriousness. As a result, in the context of his own suffering, I found it to be a remarkable and incredibly powerful statement. To look at his captors, and recognise their own sufferings whilst ignoring his own, and to endeavour to “share in their suffering”… now that really illustrates the sharp end of compassion.
I hope none of you ever have to experience such suffering as the monk did. But perhaps to aspire to his attitude to others and their situations amidst his own suffering is a good goal to aim for. But there’s another thought buried in this…
Does focusing on, and sharing with another’s suffering, and, therefore ‘defocusing’ on our own situation improve our own state of mind. I’ll leave that thought for you and you own ponderings.
God bless you this Autumn-tide.