By Pragito Dove
Roses bloom beautifully because they are not trying to be lavender or irises. A pear grows into a pear tree; a hazel seed grows into a hazel tree. Practice saying to yourself, as often as you would like, "I am happy as I am." It starts with you: when you allow yourself to be who you are, by being compassionate with yourself, you have an abundance of compassion to share. Love yourself, mother yourself, have mercy on yourself.
The problem is, most of us were not taught to love ourselves. We were taught to get love from others, or that we have to do something to be worthy of love. We were taught that we are not lovable just as we are. We learn a lot of 'shoulds' and 'oughts' that are impossible to fulfil. So the first step is to drop all shoulds and accept yourself the way you are.
Compassion is the highest form of love. It gives and expects nothing in return, it has no agenda. The more compassion you feel for yourself, the more you have for others. Become aware of your thoughts and actions. Observe yourself with non-judgment. Especially bring awareness to any self-critical or self-condemning habits you may have.
Perhaps you were brought up, as I was, believing that compassion means being nice to everybody, however badly they treat you. I was taught not to be angry, not to raise my voice. I now know that being "nicey-nice" is not the same as being compassionate. As a result of my upbringing, I never learned to defend myself. People could verbally attack me, dump their anger on me, and I would just soak it all up. A lot of resentment and unexpressed anger got built up in me as a result. Being a "nice" girl clearly was not working. Through my years of meditation practice, I have come to understand the difference between what they call in the Buddhist tradition "idiot compassion" and "fierce compassion."
Compassion is not about having a bleeding heart full of sympathy for others. Compassion is about having such a depth of love that you are willing to do whatever it takes to bring awareness to a situation.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it's wrong to have sympathy for others. Sympathy is a wonderful quality. But the key is to bring conscious awareness to the situation. Through a meditation practice we can gradually understand ourselves better, heal our pain, release our mental, physical and emotional tension, and bring greater consciousness to the events in our lives.
Practicing fierce compassion has taught me that by loving myself, I have more love to give to others. We can address wrongs that are done to us in a compassionate way. We can understand that mistreatment is often unconscious and that by setting clear limits, we can sometimes bring those who harm us to more awareness of their action while, at the same time, keeping them encompassed in our hearts. We know that self-love and compassionate clarity can go a long way toward transforming even the most difficult human relationships.
Not being able to receive love, not being able to share oneself, causes great misery. Our soul needs love as much as the body needs food to survive. It is only through love that we can feel whole. As you make a habit of remembering to love yourself, in time, compassion toward yourself and others arises.
Live through love, live as love and miracles happen. The greatest miracle is that love gives you passion. When love and passion meet, they become compassion.