The things we are passionate about are the things we love most, the people or pursuits which inspire us, capture our attention, get us out of bed in the morning long before everyone else, or keep us up late into the night. Our obsession with what we’re passionate about, the flip side of passion, can also become our suffering.
The word compassion means ‘to suffer with’. When we see people suffering or in pain, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual; our humanity compels us to ease their suffering and relieve their pain in whatever way we can. What we mustn’t lose sight of, however, is that we can never know another’s experience or destiny; nor can we do for them that which is their ‘job’ to do. We can only ever walk beside them and offer our support. Reaching out is the first step to healing – and while we may be the first to volunteer assistance to another – unless it is either sought or accepted, it cannot willingly be received. For we are all beings with free will and before any intervention can be useful, permission must first be given.
Healing is love expressed through thoughts, words, prayers, and deeds. To assist others when they are in need, while not depriving them of their autonomy or dignity, is the challenge we face, and one way we demonstrate respect at a time when people may be feeling powerless and as if life as they know it has been irrevocably changed. When coming through such difficult times, we want neither to create victims or villains, victors or vanquished, but rather people who share a universal commitment, and are empowered to work together for a brighter future.
We are all students and teachers, and we all have something to offer about learning how to do things differently, which we can only ever know is even necessary as a result of our previous experience/s. These principles apply equally to solving the problems which confront untold numbers of the world’s people, as they do to the individual, who; having recognised the impact of what they have been doing up until now, decide to reinvent themselves and their way of being and relating. For all of life is about relationship, and it extends outward from our relationship with ourselves to the relationship we have with others and our world.
When we ‘suffer with’ we validate another’s experience or feelings without judgement. We acknowledge their pain and feelings of loss or desperation but we do not take it on for ourselves.
Our job is to be the raft that leads to the far shore, to shine the light for another to remind them they are not alone, that we will get through this together one day at a time, and to be enlightened ourselves by the inspiration that all human beings are capable of when they refuse to let their spirits be broken.
When we remember the saying ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’, we accept that if we are spared tragedy, then our job is to help ease it; that what we learn from tragedy, and who we become as a result, is the gift we have to pass on to others. In this way, nothing is wasted, and there is no pain without gain.
Inner Sense No. 23 | April 2011 – updated June 2019