Compassion as Wealth

 

Gaining the Inner Wealth of Compassion

Compassion is a foundational building block of our inner wealth and peace of mind. However, it can be a difficult quality to improve consistently over time. In this article I look at three reasons why it can be difficult to keep developing our compassion sustainably, and three ways that we can start to work to overcome these obstacles.
For the purposes of this article, lets stick to a simple definition of compassion, the wish to free ourself and others from suffering, based upon the ethic and emotions of caring and valuing. In order to access the inner wealth of compassion therefore we need to do two things, open ourselves to the  suffering of ourself and others with a heart that is caring and open.

Here are some of the obstacles to opening to suffering:

  • There is too much of it – It can be overwhelming to contemplate the amount of suffering and injustice in the world. To remain open to it can make us feel vulnerable, confused and seem to “spoil” our ability to enjoy our life. Sometimes even our own suffering seems so intense, how in such a state can we open up to awareness of more suffering, the suffering of others?
  • Attempts to help are not always well received – Sometimes the very people we want to help seem committed to perpetuating their own suffering, and their response to our wanting to help is to react angrily and sometimes hurtfully to our attempts to help.
  •  Disliking ourself, disconnected from others – A final point is that it is very difficult to develop genuine care and love (the basis for compassion) for others if we dislike or hate ourself. Such dislike blocks any compassion that we may have for ourself, and simultaneously locks us in a state of mind where we feel cut off and unable to connect to others. It is impossible to feel compassion for others if we are locked in a viscous cycle of self hatred/dislike within our own ego.

With the above three points in mind, here are three things you can do to to help open to and develop the inner wealth of compassion:

  • Have the courage to open to pain and suffering – Get in the habit of being open to seeing and feeling experiences of suffering that normally you would instinctively shy away from or block out of your awareness. It is not your “fault” that all the pain is there in the world, but it is (if you choose) your opportunity and responsibility to be aware of it and do what you can to alleviate it in whatever big or small way you can.
  • Develop a long term view with regard to how your attempts to help are received – Commit to helping in whatever way you can, and if the people you are trying to help don’t appreciate it, or perhaps don’t understand what you are trying to do, don’t be discouraged. Look at it as a process rather than being to worried about immediate results.
  • Resolve your relationship to yourself – If you can’t connect to others because there is so much conflicting energy caught up in your relationship to yourself, then make it a point to invest in yourself and your ability to develop harmony within yourself. The more harmony and resolution there is within your awareness, the  more space there will be for you to develop authentic care and compassion.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

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