Monday, April 7, 2008 The perils of forced compassion and loving-kindness, part 1 or ... Forgiveness #5?


Compassion, the helping of those in need, is espoused as one of the greatest virtues a person can have. Politicians swear by it; religions espouse it; everyone seems to agree it is a good thing to do.

And there is no doubt it is a great virtue – but what if there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it? What if, in trying to help, we sometimes end up hurting ourselves – or the person we are trying to help?

“How is that possible?” you ask. Allow me to illustrate with a few examples.

Why we begin with ourselves

I’ve stated before; Compassion has to begin with ourselves. How can we give what we don’t have? If we look inside ourselves, and we see self hatred – and be aware, for such feelings are very often cleverly disguised as [1] pride, or [2] repressed – how can we give out Love?

Whatever we give will be plastic replica; a cheap imitation at best, an insult at the very worst.

A teacher once told me that love is a by-product of a rising consciousness. As we get happier, it becomes simply natural to share the joy we have within. We have no other choice – otherwise we will simply burst apart at the seams! Finding the joy within – one of the most important things to do is to remove the suffering within – to [3] accept ourselves, to [4] heal our old wounds, to find and love the disowned parts of ourselves.

And this becomes especially important when we get to the teachings of Jesus: Love your enemy. How do we do so? Love yourself – everyone nods. It’s wise, it’s the current catch phrase. Love your neighbor – and everyone nods again. How generous, how ego less! Love your enemy. But here it gets hard. Who wants to love the people who hurt them, and if they do, how do they do it right?

Loving your enemy

There are a few things that people try to do to their enemies. Forgiveness – which to most people simply means: I’m still right, you’re still wrong, you’re still a bastard but I’m a good person so I forgive you. Just don’t do it again. And the other is acceptance – which simply means: There’s nothing I can do about it now, and my moaning is making me more upset, so I’ll just swallow my pains silently.

I’ve fallen into the same trap before. But true forgiveness comes simply when you see that there is nothing to forgive. And this is a hard pill to swallow. When you see the great design of Existence, when you truly see that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger – you might even find gratitude for those who have hurt you.

This is a hard concept to explain; but they were covered in these posts: [5] Gratitude for the Bad, and What your ego is – [6] Part 1, and [7] Part 2. Heavy reading, but it is an attempt to explain something that might be relevant. And these posts are not based on some sort of feel-good philosophy – I’ve been intensively examining my own history and it’s starting to strike me how certain things, good or bad, just happened at the right time to teach me exactly the lesson I need to learn. And if I didn’t learn from it, then it would hit me again and again and again – until I awoke and learnt from it.

But inside the flawed interpretation of forgiveness, lies danger. If someone slaps you in the face, or if you come face to face to the man who tortured you as a child – you remember what Jesus said, and you try to live up to it. You force a smile, you try to forgive, all the while holding back the fear, the anger, the grief that is still there in your chest.

Isn’t this dangerous? Isn’t this another form of running away from your pains? An open wound on your forearm, untended to, begins to rot. It is the same with the scars on our hearts – resentment and anger begins to build, to get worse than it was before. You might explode and seek revenge; you might go home and take it out on someone innocent, or it might show up in your body as illness – we can never hold something down for long. Fill yourself up with Love and it will spill over; fill yourself with hatred and the same happens.

Read the rest of this article:

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | cna certification