What is compassion? What is forgivingness?
What is compassion? What is forgivingness?
Translated compassion means “to share passion” – that we have the same passion. If someone has a strong passion and we don’t recognize the same passion in ourselves, we are likely to blame, judge, and project on the person. But if we understand compassion, we will see that the moment there is a tendency to judge another person and feelings such as anger or jealousness appear, we should always check ourselves first: “Do I know the feeling in me? Am I rejecting it in myself?” This is the Buddhist concept of compassion which existed long before it was introduced into modern psychology where it is used in the work with projections.
We also know that Jesus is known for his love and compassion. Many people, for example those who follow the teachings in the Aquarian Gospel, believe that he lived with Buddhists in India many years before he started to teach around his 30s. In the New Testament there is a famous story that points to the possibility that he actually had lived with Buddhists in India. The story tells about the day Jesus passed by a place where a large group of people were about to throw stones on a woman because she has committed adultery. That was the tradition in those days. If a woman had been unfaithful you had the right to stone her to death. And Jesus just said one thing to the group: “the one of you who never committed adultery, not even in your mind, can throw the first stone.” There was deep silence. And nobody threw the stone. This is how to apply compassion – before you jump on somebody with you judgement, you check with yourself first: “Could I do the same thing?”
There is an even deeper level of compassion. When you are awakened you realize that there is no personal doership. You see people around you doing things; you know from your experience that they are not really responsible when you see it from a deeper perspective. But they are still suffering and they have pain in the body. I used to know a woman with three children with three different men, and she had a very hard life. The relationship with the fathers did not work, so she was alone with three kids. And of course it would have been very easy to say to her: “how can you be so stupid to do it three times?” But when you have realized deep in your heart that none of this has anything to do with personal doership, you will feel incredible compassion for all beings. Because they are in the bodies struggling, having pain, living and dying, and there is no free will. It is so because there is no one there that has a free will. If you have realized this, you will forgive everyone you have known in your life, whether they loved you or hated you.
This is a very high level of compassion, coming from spiritual awakening. The first type of compassion we discussed is just the beginning. We start looking at ourselves and we are not just obsessed with judging the other. This, of course, goes way beyond the normal way of compassion. In the traditional Christian understanding of compassion, we forgive someone for doing something to us. And in therapy we may be asked to forgive our mother and father. But it will not last, this kind of mind gymnastic, because it is not rooted in understanding. The compassion that comes from spiritual awakening is not comparable to these two forms of traditional compassion. Their kind of forgivingness is an ego trip. It makes our ego stronger. It is also built on illusion, because there is no real “you” that can forgive another. And there is no “other” to be forgiven.
So the traditional forgivingness does not really help. Jesus was close to compassion, when he was on the cross and said about the soldiers torturing him: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”. Here it comes closer to compassion, because it is seen that they do not know. But it is not the full and real truth. Because when Jesus is on the cross, it is actually the father that is hanging on the cross. But it is also the same father that is acting from the soldiers bodies. There is not two! That which is torturing is the same as that which is being tortured. This is very hard to understand intellectually. There is only one reality, and this reality is both perpetrator and victim. There is only one! The one is both the seer and that which is seen, the feeler and that which is felt. We must come into this existentially in order to know it and to be fully free.