We have heard of it throughout our lives. We may want it or feel the need for it, but relegate it as a low priority. For some of us, Compassion may be reserved solely for professional caregivers, the spiritual oriented, or for bleeding hearts. Familiar?
While there appears to be a great need for Compassion, it is in limited supply. It may not be a tangible element, but it can be mined, stored and refined.
Shaping one’s capacity for greater Compassion can be more than challenging in our current world. As far as a priority, it often gets knocked back to “later”. We must check social media, emails and text messages. We need to be digitally plugged in. Tech interfaces have taken priority over many basic human skills like face-to-face contact.
Compassion requires sensitivity for the human condition, remaining aware of the struggles faced by ourselves and others, along with limiting judgment.
For those of us using mass transit in cities, we share our route with people of all cultures, ages, classes and backgrounds -- including some who may be homeless. We may detect aspects of poor health, whether physical or mental. The hygiene challenges of some might be very present. The air might even become heavy with a very human noxious odor. Our struggle on this journey, as with all aspects of life, is to be mindful of Compassion for the human condition.
In truth, many of us have become numb to the struggles that surround them. Feeling enough for humanity to actually “do something” beyond “shaking our head” in our comfort zones leads to sublimating Compassion. Where does it go?
It gets buried into quiet desperation.
No doubt, our demanding world makes Compassion a low priority that may not find itself on our long To-Do list. Why? It requires other worldly skills like transcendence to dig it up and develop it.
One develops compassion.
We grow Compassion with patience for ourselves and others. Imagine planting a seed of a redwood tree and cultivating from seedling, to sprout, to baby tree – protecting it from harm from those who could and would crush it, either for malice, pleasure or without thought. Who nurtures a baby redwood tree to grow? You can. This is Compassion.
Focus on Compassion as benevolence - kindness. Also, apply The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want them to do for you.
Another way to nurture your Compassion is by becoming a servant leader. It may require studying wisdom like a college course of a new software program. Wisdom study will open your mind and heart. Choose your preferred Wisdom from the Ancients. Choose the culture, ethnic group, time period and applicability to our morphing society and work it.
As we gaze up into the eyes of our selected Wisdom Teachers, we ask that they look upon us with Compassionate eyes – like the big stars look at the smaller stars – like the galaxies look upon the solar systems below. Like a loving wife looks at her husband. Like a Mom looks at her child. Like a child looks at a well decorated plate. Like the wise immortals look at us -- their mortal apprentices.
Prioritize it – Compassion.
Why? In cultivating self-love, personal value and gratitude we are tending to our internal redwood sapling. Everyone of us needs to attend to these attributes personally as our foundation in order to offer Compassion for others.
Let’s go plant and nurture those redwood trees of Compassion.
Babá Antonio Mondesíre, M.S., is an Ifá Priest based in New York City.