I always remember a quote from the Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, which says that a wise person who wants to be happy learns to practice compassion. In essence he is saying that a compassionate person is a happy person. As you hear this idea, do questions come up?
Maybe you have questions that arise from your own situation in life. You might be asking:
‘How do I become a compassionate person when a lot of the time I feel anything but?’
‘Do I have to conjure up compassion and won’t I feel like a fake?’
‘What if I feel like I’ve been so caring and compassionate for so long that I’ve had enough?’
‘Is compassion even relevant when the situation I’m in is unacceptable?’
And then fundamentally ‘Deep down, do I even want to be compassionate in the first place?
These are all very important and relevant questions, and if we are going to move in the direction of compassion we will each need to be open to the arrival of these questions, letting go of the judgement of ourselves for having them – ‘If I have this question does it make me a bad person?’ ‘But compassion is one of my core values and I feel terrible that I don’t feel compassionate!’ I hear you say. Can you turn these questions into an inquiry which can lead you towards compassion? This will be our intention in the Introduction to Compassion weekend.
The key here is to begin with self-compassion. This is the missing piece for many of us. Most of us have worthy intentions to be good people, we expect ourselves to be good and then we’re horrified by the uncompassionate thoughts that keep coming – thoughts of hating someone, wanting to hurt someone, scenarios of revenge and blame… Yes I have these thoughts too! If we have these thoughts we conclude, we must be hopelessly uncompassionate, or worse, a bad person. So, what’s the problem here?
The problem is that we expect ourselves to be superhuman, squeaky clean, polished angels, smiling down from the clouds benevolently, always acting with impeccable compassion and never thinking a hateful, irritated or fed up thought. Well perhaps we’re just human! And as Rob Nairn, my first meditation teacher, said: ‘Maybe we all need to let ourselves down from a painful hook and land on our bottoms…we can be a Compassionate Mess!’
I think this was for me the most important endorsement of my life and ‘Be a compassionate mess’ is still my favourite mantra. Join me and bring your whole self along – the irreverent, the pedantic, the rebellious, the forgetful the messy, the angry, the cynical, the critical, the numb, the jaded, the vulnerable. All of it will be grist for the mill. And this is the alchemy of compassion, that nothing needs to be left out. Nothing that is human will be unwelcome! Us human beings are so endearingly contradictory and mixed, isn’t that fascinating and so very worth getting to know better.
And perhaps, just perhaps, beneath all this there is a compassionate heart full of love and care. We are all wired to be compassionate after all. We are all sometimes neurotic, clumsy and downright awful, and we can all cultivate compassion for ourselves and others in the midst of it all!
Come and join the Compassionate Mess Club!
with warm wishes,
UPCOMING COMPASSION COURSES
APRIL 3 • Monday Evenings Online with Jacky Seery
JUNE 24-25 • Introduction to Compassion Weekend in London