Excerpts taken from Compassion is Unreasonable on Om Swami
(I recommend clicking the link above and reading the entire article. It’s not much longer, and better, than the little I have reposted here.)
…Compassion is in fact an unreasonable emotion. It is not really based on any reasoning. For, mind is the seat of reasoning whereas it is heart for the compassion. As a behavior, compassion may well be supported by some reason, but as an emotion, a feeling, it is neither supported nor triggered by any reason. Behavior can be deceptive but feelings, because they live inside you, cannot be artificial. They are what they are.
…if you behave compassionately (even if you don’t feel it for the other person), that’s still just as beautiful because most of us have little or no control over our emotions but we can control our actions at least. Behavior fuels feelings. You behave a certain way and before long you’ll start feeling that way….
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When someone approaches you for something, before you reject their plea, just take a pause. Maybe you are bigger than their mistakes, maybe you can forgive, maybe you can exercise compassion. Maybe. This is a choice and depending on your own temperament you may make a different one. When it comes to compassion though, everyone is a deserving recipient, for compassion is unreasonable. Beyond reason. But, compassion is not always unconditional. At least, not for the average person out there. And this leads me to an important point: show your compassion to the one who wants it.
Please let this sink in: show your compassion to the one who wants it. We don’t have to judge the other person, we don’t have to discriminate, we should take it as a given that everyone deserves our compassion, but this does not mean that you have to offer it to the one who rejects it, who doesn’t value it. Such compassion often hurts both the offerer and the recipient because the one exercising compassion feels unappreciated and let down, and the recipient sees it as a weakness.
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Imagine a patient who believes he is not sick. You can’t really treat such a patient because he won’t take the medicine. The moment he accepts that he’s unwell and needs medical attention, he is ready to be treated. Similarly, if the other person does not want your compassion, you can do whatever you want, it won’t really work because they are not ready for it. No matter who you are, you have a lot to offer. Your love, time, care, wisdom… Offer it to the one who wants it.
… anything unsolicited, be it advice, love, help or anything else, is rarely valued.
Be compassionate but give priority to those who are ready to receive it, who have at least asked for it. This way you are no longer judging anyone for their worthiness, yet you are being compassionate at the same time.
When you are truly compassionate, you no longer expect anything in return. Not even a thank you. Practice compassion in your daily life as a behavior and eventually, it’ll become your second nature, it’ll become an emotion. You’ll feel it in your bones. At that point, you will have gone beyond the message in this post. Then, you will know what I mean when I say that compassion is always unreasonable. Just like it’s always non-judgmental. Well, it’s divine. And divinity transcends both the action and intention of the other person. It operates independently. One for another time.
Like love, compassion is unreasonable, but unlike love, it isn’t blind. Both are fulfilling though, they help you discover more about you, about others. Come to think of it, they are near synonyms. Practice one and the other one shows up on its own.
I think it takes a lot of humility to ask for compassion.
Don’t you agree?