2020 has been a very challenging year in many ways; emotionally and mentally at the level of suffering it has been very very challenging. For all the health workers in the frontline and everyone exposed to this challenge and not being able to see family and friends. This year is ending and we are going to pray, worship and meditate. Everything that it takes, so we can spread compassion.
Opposite to the suffering we need to generate compassion
There is this great book that I read since more them three decades. On page 447 there is this lovely story. I have read the story at least 20 times and every time I read it I get another flavor of it, the taste changes. So this morning it changed again and I decided to plan this Instant Satsang so I can share it with you all. The story goes like this.
There were these 4 people in the forest. They are on a quest to attain Brahman/Mukti (self-realisation). Soul-searching is the word we use these days.
- The first is intelligent and says ‘I will get my salvation from self-effort’.
- The second is intellectual and says ‘I will get through this life, this suffering very easily by my intellectual powers, I can control my mind and get through this forest.’
- The third is a city smart, learned person, he says ‘I know this world is changing and everything is formless so everything is eternal and I will go with this thought in my mind.’
- The fourth thinks I am not intelligent, not intellectual, not learned, I am from a low caste and just an ordinary person, but full of faith and he says ‘I have devotion and self-trust and I am just going to surrender’.
When they are half the way through the forest, which is very dark with massive trees. Even the rays of the sun are not able to penetrate through the dense forest. Imagine the amount of darkness. As destiny would have, all have their own singular path. Half the way through the forest, they meet a person called a Vanjari, a trader who trades in food and drinks. When they reach this guy they are tired, it’s dark, hot and humid. The Vanjari (the trader) asks ‘would you like to drink something?’ The first 3 say ‘No’. Then the Vanjari asks if they want some food? Maybe get some rest, be patient and calm and you will get through the forest. The first 3 said no and didn’t stop. The fourth one just surrendered. He thought this Vanjari is so kind and compassionate, let me have something to drink and move on. Then he moved on through the forest with the directions and advice of the Vanjari. The other three were completely lost in the forest and finally ended up at the Vanjari again. They were so smart, intelligent, in control of mind and now thought ‘what has happened?, why do we turn back here again?’ When they came back, the Vanjari was again very kind and compassionate, and offered water and food. The 3 again rejected.
Sometimes mere intelligence is not enough. You need to also think with compassion, with empathy, with love, with kindness and with sharing.
There was a lesson they could have learned from this Vanjari, but they could not surrender to that compassion. It is very difficult sometimes to even receive love. It is very difficult to give love is one story, to receive love and kindness is also very difficult. And that is where we need to guide our mind and always as the Vanjari requested; please sit down, be patient and be calm. He was actually going to guide them through the forest, he was living there for 40 years, he knows the forest like no other, his heart was full of compassion, kindness and he wanted to share his love with them and say I can come with you and take you across this ocean of Mundane Existence (which is the forest).
On one side there is suffering and on the other side there is so much of compassion and sharing and love. People are having so much empathy but are unable to create compassion within themselves.
If you are intelligent, intellectual and smart and you have compassion, love and can share what you have with others. How beautiful would that be? We have to get acquainted to the emotional feeling of compassion.
As soon as you feel compassion, there is a part of your brain that starts secreting oxytocin (the bonding hormone), it binds you in relationships. The hormone causes feelings of empathy and love. I see it in my work every day, how it influences your social behavior towards others, how you think about others, it influences your sharing capacity and giving capacity. The more compassionate you feel the more you share. Your social behavior towards others can completely change your way of living. How do you feel compassion? it is associated with empathy, which is to be felt.
Compassion, Kindness and Sharing. These three virtues we should take as the theme for 2021.
My dream is that you can associate these 3 virtues with everyone around you and with the world. Start compassion by self-example. Be kind to yourself. Share your love with yourself and then watch the magic happening. Then you will start sharing and feel bonded in all relationships.
There are many ways to become compassionate. One of my favorite ways is
Clarity of Thinking
and I would love to share my thoughts on that in one of the next Satsangs.
See you then, with love and compassion.