By Allan Black
The hole in him grew bigger.
The sun shined through,
the rain fell out the other side.
He had no idea how to mend
stitches fell apart,
bandages fell off,
he tried liquor,
barbecue ribs and barbecue chicken,
all terrain vehicles,
a gluten free diet,
free trade organic coffee,
And herbal tea,
but still the hole got bigger.
A toothless, wrinkled woman with sallow flesh approached him in downtown Courtenay.
“Can you give me some money? I need something to eat,” she begged.
“No, I don’t have any money,” he lied.
“Can I have those empties?”
She asked for his large empty green plastic water bottles
that floated around in the bed of his truck.
They were worth twenty cents each. He thought about it.
“Okay,” he handed her the bottles.
She struggled to carry them all as he watched her lope down the street.
Shortly thereafter while eating store-bought sushi in his truck
and waiting for the ferry to take him back to his gulf island resort
he noticed his hole puckered a little and the foul winds that blew through weren’t as cold.
Connecting with others through compassion is, above all, an act of love. Where does this love come from, what does it look, and feel like? There is the kind of love that comes from romance, being parents, and having intimate friendships. All of these are forms of two-way love. We create; we give: we receive. Compassion is something more. It is what separates us from the animal kingdom and even from the parameters of normal human love. True compassion is a function of the Heart and Soul. It is a natural outpouring of the love that flows through us from the universal source of life and love. As we give love through compassion, we not only bless the person or persons we serve, but in the process we also bless ourselves. We do not show compassion to have this feeling, we simple do it because it is the natural function of our heart. This becomes our main source of joy (different from happiness) which is the energy of the universal presence living in us and through us. It is the energy we can create that lets us share in the divine.
Caring for ourselves is often seen as selfish, but compassion for ourselves is the beginning of compassion for others. There are many ways to care for ourselves. Eating well and exercising takes care of the body. Letting go of long-held grudges or hurts and forgiving ourselves for the mistakes locked into our memories takes care of the mind. But taking care of ourselves is above all a function of the heart. It is loving ourselves unconditionally so that we can love others unconditionally. True love from the heart begins with surrender. We let go of concerns of the body and the mind. We allow our heart to open up the channels of love to and from our soul, through our mind and body, and then out to the people around us.
Compassion is an emotional reaction and a physical action. Compassion begins with empathy. Our minds are equipped with mirror neurons that allows our brains to resonate with the same frequencies as the person we are with. We then can experience their emotions through our senses which we recognize as empathy. The heart then works with the mind to create a vision of what needs to be done. This combined mind and heart love energy leads to some action that is manifested through our bodies which we know as altruism. Compassion then is an action that is the natural mind and body response to the empathy felt by the heart.
When a society loses its compassion, it is going against the natural instincts of individuals within the group to tend to those who need a helping hand. When we let our weakest ones suffer we lose a part of our humanity. We create a hole that can never be filled.