Skills of Compassion.

In the last blog we looked at what it is to be compassionate. It is now time to look at the skills we need to be compassionate. Lord Buddha thousands of years ago recognized this and recommended the following. Science is now catching up and suggesting the same skills.

Skill 1. The right view is knowing that suffering is caused by viewing the world in a way that’s not serving us and causes us to live in an illusion. We have to remind ourselves that we are not independent of everything; we are dependent on animals, plants, earth, sun, moon, water for our survival and well-being. To be independent of all this would mean we are like god himself, omnipotent. We all know we are not and yet we behave and act like we are. When we truly realize that we are not independent our behavior may change in a way that’s respectful towards others and our environment; we may not pollute the earth and the air, we may look at our fellow humans as fellow travelers in the same boat; what frustrate our needs will also frustrate theirs.

Skill 2.  The right concentration is that which allows us to focus in a way that is life-giving or life flourishing for all rather than self-motivated focus that doesn’t account for the needs of others.

Skill 3. The right intention is when our sole intention towards everyone is to relieve suffering even though there may not be any benefit for us.

Skill 4. The right speech is a communication in a relationship which is non judgmental, comforting and helpful. Non-judgmental does not mean giving up discernment.

Skill 5. The right action is one where we strive to help satisfy human needs that is life-giving or helps us to flourish.

Skill 6. The right livelihood we are lucky if we are doing a job that is promoting healing and human spirit. There are some jobs that are very bad for human spirit and people doing them become numb and “hardened”. In these jobs there is little opportunity to show kindness, promote healing and human flourishing. These jobs are bad for those that do them and for the human spirit as a whole.

Skill 7.  The right effort we have to make the right effort and be dedicated to learning and practicing the skills of compassion.

Skill 8. The right mindfulness we have to learn to be present in the moment so that we are fully engaged in life and not dead in the past or not yet born in the future.

Resources

The Compassionate Mind  by Paul Gilbert

http://flickrhivemind.net/

Ugliness

I don’t see my daughter very often because she lives in Toronto and in September she will be moving to the USA for further schooling. But when I do see her, she seems to create a learning experience for me each time. I remember once I moved her to tears by depicting someone as ugly because of their particular physical feature. Without knowing I was linking the persons feature to ugliness. Since then I’ve been careful not to fall pray to this common illusion of linking some aspect of physical appearance to ugliness. We as a society do this all the time; obesity and baldness for example are quite often viewed as bad and therefore ugly.

What moved my daughter to tears was my blindness to destructiveness when I thought I was pursing the pleasant, the beautiful and the good. Just as Hitler believed that he was pursuing the “good” by  the creating a more perfect society with more perfect people and left millions suffering and dead. And he was a vegetarian because he hated cruelty to animals!

Indeed, that is the very nature of the problem, that in the name of seeking the best and the most beautiful, we became out of control. I don’t know of anyone who has become out of control by seeking “ugliness.” But surely, ugliness is just our conception; being overweight and being bald is just outward appearance; inside they could be the most beautiful people, we just have to look deeper.

Some cultures today believe that our Western society has become out of control in the name of pursuing the the “Good.” Indeed, they think our devouring, polluting and exploiting ways are evil. There may be element of truth in that but one has to be careful in making these kinds of sweeping judgement. There is also lot of good in the West.

The compassionate point is to focus on what is common to all of us: that we struggle with our own feelings and urges, that we can open our eyes and not be deluded by the false realities we are creating around us.

Resources

The Compassionate Mind  by Paul Gilbert

http://flickrhivemind.net/

http://twistedsifter.com/2011/03/25-mind-blowing-aerial-photographs/

Five Guideposts To Illuminate The Spiritual Side Of Sexuality.

 

1. Sex as Communication:  Sex can be the most intimate form of communication at its hight; it involves opening and meeting from our deepest and most vulnerable parts as equals; no words need to be spoken; the soul of each recognize the other; the interdependence and oneness is acknowledged; communication changes to communion.

2. Sex as Surrender: The deep communication leads to surrender. This kind of surrender doesn’t mean to give up or quit on yourself or life. It just mean you have relaxed your fixed thinking adequately and can allow deeper wisdom to inform your direction. The flow of life allows more peace and happiness and takes us ultimately to our True Self, where we really feel at home.

3. Sex as Delight: When sex is good there is happiness. Sex as delight is much more, it is good under all conditions, positive or negative because the reference of delight is deeper within beyond contradictions.

4. The Union of Opposites: In the ancient tradition which have not been dominated by western thought, the importance of balancing the masculine and feminine elements within each of us, as well as in the external world,  has been long recognized as the basis for harmony in all life. In the East, the Tantras – ancient Hindu and Buddhist scriptures – use sexual symbolism to express the union of the opposites necessary for enlightenment. In the Hindu Tantras the Shakti, or goddess, is considered the primal energy of the world, and the male deity ( often Shiva) symbolizes meditative stillness. In Buddhist Tantra, the female deity symbolizes emptiness or wisdom ( stillness), while male deity symbolizes compassion or skillful means( activity). In Taoism, union is expressed by yin and yang symbols. The female is symbolized by the yin – dark, passive, soft, yielding energy  – and the male by the yang: active , hard, light energy. The universe is made up of the union of both. Light cannot exist without dark, active without passive, hard without soft.

So the masculine and feminine forces naturally seek their opposites. Together they make a balanced whole. When we prevent an individual from accessing both male and female qualities within themselves, they will feel a lack or a deep emptiness. Consequently, they desperately seek to complete themselves by attracting the missing elements in another. Or if the inner masculine and inner feminine are at war with each other, a person will experience chaos within and conflict without as the stronger aspect attempts to take over and suppress the other while the weaker side rebels.

In sexual union, masculine and feminine in balance; there is sexual harmony, which put one in communion with the infinite force of nature, giving one a deeper reference for a relationship.

5. Sex as Cosmos:  As Above , So Below. In The Way of Splendor, Edwin Hoffman relates the ancient Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah…” the celestial ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ unite in sexual ecstasy to sustain the cosmos each day…..Whenever marital partner engage in lovemaking with intense concentration, they help to harmonize all the realm of the universe. That is, just as the full sexual embrace  – if performed with the proper attitude and desire – is seen to bring the human couple together on many level of their being, so too does this act cause peace and love to reign more thoroughly everywhere. ‘As above, so below.’ ”

Resources 

Chop Wood Carry Water

By Rick Fields, with Peggy Taylor, Rex Weyler, and Rick Ingrasci.

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/change_and_spiritual_surrender_opening_yourself_to_the_possibility_of_greatness

http://www.gurusoftware.com/GuruNet/KnowledgeBase/Personal/SpiritualQualities/DelightOfBeing.htm

http://www.lovewithoutlimits.com/articles/Sacred_Union_of_Opposites.html

Sexuality Is The Deepest And Most Primal Impulse

“Our sexuality is the deepest and most primal impulse we possess. Repressed, it drains our vital energies and weakens all our faculties of mind and body. Fulfilled, it becomes a great creative and regenerative force. Sexual liberation does not lie in mastering techniques which see our bodies as pleasure mechanisms, but in the realization that our bodies are holy and that sexual relationships are sharing of the divine energy that animates the universe.”

LAYNA VERIN

” The entire social and cultural game of antisexual, ‘ spirit against flesh’ education is so monstrous , so opposed to incarnate human happiness and human responsibility, as well as the ultimate transcendental sacrifice of the individual body-mind through moral and spiritual processes, that it must be considered the primary social and even philosophical issue of our time.”

DA FREE JOHN

Resources 

Chop Wood Carry Water

By Rick Fields, with Peggy Taylor, Rex Weyler, and Rick Ingrasci.

Sexual Love

 

Sex is such a loaded word. It has different meaning for almost everyone. In modern time sex sadly is regarded as a trivial act; not long ago a women in her late thirties told me she was sleeping with someone so she could get to know him, that statement took me by surprise that I didn’t know what to say to her. Unfortunately the modern notion of sex ignores what the ancients recognized; that sex is not an activity in isolation from our thought, what we feel , what we do or what we value in rest of our  lives.They regarded it as a spiritual and a sacred act. George Leonard reminds us that today what we need to do is ” reconnect the bedroom with the rest of our lives, with society, and nature, and perhaps with the stars. We need to realize that the way we make love influences the way  we make our world, and vice versa. We need to appreciate the connection between the erotic and the creative. We need, more than anything else to reawaken to the almost endless, half forgotten, life transforming powers of full-bodied, fully committed erotic love.”

Sex is a powerful force, like the life-force itself. It brings lovers together, serves as an expression of love, creates life, and fulfills our longing for unity and wholeness. We engage in sex not only for physical release, but to merge with the beloved in a state of ecstatic spiritual union. The sexual act of union is highly spiritual but unfortunately this image has been tainted by our popular culture of trivialities. Mystics of the past have used images of sexual love to describe their deepest spiritual ecstasy; they recognized sexual love to be deeply spiritual.

D.H Lawrence uses act of sexual union to explain what is the beloved. ” She is that which I am not. In the act of love, I am pure male, and she is pure female. She is she, and I am I, and clasped together with her, I know how perfectly she is not me, how perfectly I am not her, how utterly we are two, the light and the darkness , and how infinitely and eternally not to be comprehended by either of us is the surpassing One we make.”

Alan Watts in his classic Nature , Man, and Women explains, that in the hight of sexual love we see the beloved as the divine. He writes……..”one of the most total experiences of relationship to the other of which we are capable, but prejudice and insensitivity have prevented us from seeing that in any other circumstances such delight would be called mystical ecstasy. For what lovers feel for each other in this moment is no other than adoration in its full religious sense, and its climax is almost literally the pouring of their lives into each other. Such adoration, which is due only to God, would indeed be idolatrous, were it not that in that moment love takes away illusion and shows the beloved for what he or she in truth is — not the socially pretended person but the naturally divine.”

 

Resources

Chop Wood Carry Water

By Rick Fields, with Peggy Taylor, Rex Weyler, and Rick Ingrasci.

Related articles

Spiritual Health

Spiritual Health

We may not think much about spiritual wellness but it has a huge impact on our wellbeing. It is our spirituality that gives us our sense of what is meaningful and what our purpose is in our lives. It also gives us our sense of worth, hope, commitment, peace and positive or negative outlook on life. If there is feeling of emptiness , anxiety, hopelessness, apathy or conflict then these maybe signs of spiritual poverty; resulting in unhappiness or dissatisfaction.

Spirituality means different things to different people. To many it is to do with religious traditions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism  or Sikhism etc but those that have no association with a particular faith, spirituality may be to do with growing in their personal relationships with others or to some it maybe being in harmony with nature. It is not the same for everyone, it is uniquely different for everyone of us,  it gives our ordinary lives the depth and value. It helps to cultivates a richly expressive and meaningful lives at home and in our society. It provides  us with a sense of who we are , why we are here  and what our purpose of living is. It also allows us to gain strength and hope.

Our basic intention when caring for physical and emotional health was to relieve suffering by treating. With spiritual health the approach is quite different. We don’t treat, instead we listen. By treating we may deny the soul something in the suffering which may ultimately be invaluable for giving full meaning to our lives. So we have to listen carefully to the symptoms and notice what is revealed in the suffering.  It is only by listening we are able to coax the soul to reveal itself further. Only then the we are ready to make changes in our souls.

Let me give some examples of the consequences of ignoring the soul or the spirit. I notice most physicians by very nature of there training are concerned only with evidence based medicine which means looking at the facts only, we like the intellectually predictable world, it is protected from the mysteries and the surprises. So when patient relates his or her story with rich details we only pay attentions to the cold facts, all the rich details are lost. By ignoring the details we , the physicians, lose the opportunities to lead a soulful life. Further more with working long hours, always rushing, our profession has only small percentage of the day to be soulful, and on  some days maybe no time at all because we are exhausted by the end of the day and want to sleep. The tragedy of this is we interact and treat with our loved ones the same way, we forget how to be soulful. This may explain why in physicians there are higher suicide rates, higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse and high divorce rates then in the general population. These maybe are the signs that doctors are suffering from spiritual poverty and resulting in unhappiness or dissatisfaction.

Another example of how the spirituality is related to real health and happiness. I know a friend who had been married thirty years and was fiercely independent. She paid her own way through school and refused any financial help from her husband. She said she scarified her own happiness so that her husband could further his career. The marriage eventually ended. She was proud to be independent, it give her self worth ; she had bought into the prevailing notion that independence was healthy and dependence was bad, that didn’t make her feel so great. I wondered to myself if she would still be married had she listened to her soul about the need to be independent.  Her heroic championing of independence might be a way of avoiding and repressing the  need of something in her to be dependent. Being dependent means trusting , to find intimacy with someone you can’t live without, to be able to rely on friends. But as with anything, the shadow side of dependence is the neediness, inferiority, submission and loss of control. I wonder if she could have balanced the the two side and lived more happily  and  with less dissatisfaction. This would have been the soul work she would have needed to do; by listening to her soul and spirit. If  we don’t listen to the soul and grow in our spirituality , it may sometimes leads to physical illness or fanaticism.

So when we pay attention to the soul and observe how it is manifesting itself in us, we will be rewarded with richness of our personhood. We will receive back what is ours, the very thing we assumed to be horrible may turn out to be helpful. The spiritually poor person will need to attend to this need with some urgency; for the real health and happiness to begin. I know I need to do some work myself.

I already mentioned briefly in my previous article on emotional healthy how we can cultivate our spirituality , so I will not repeat it here.

Have a wonderful week, the next article will be on happiness….hopefully within a week.

Resources:
1.Care of the Soul
             By Thomas Moore

2. http://www.tru.ca/wellness/spiritual.html

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