Saturday, November 21, 2009

Compassion Is Always Beautiful



Living with compassion is the meaning of life. Ask why we are here and there is no answer. Ask what we should do while we are here and it all becomes clear. We should live with compassion.

But what does that mean? Begin with compassion for yourself. You are a human being of many feelings and emotions, susceptible to pain and receptive to joy. Which do you prefer? All human beings are like you in that way. All experience pain and joy. You must love yourself in order to love others, but it isn't always easy to love ourselves. Begin with loving yourself.

Most of us are familiar with the golden rule, do unto others as you would have done unto you. How amazingly simple and yet so profound. Sometimes we think that means treat others the way you would like to be treated and I have sometimes heard it explained that way. It reaches a little more deeply than that, although that is a great explanation for small children. Twenty five years ago, when my husband and I were first together, we had to learn for ourselves how to move from a literal understanding to a more compassionate understanding. This happened quite specifically when either one of us was sick.

My husband and I react quite differently to being ill both physically and in our requirements for care. He rarely gets ill, but when he does it hits him hard and he goes right to bed. Once in bed he sleeps solidly for a day and wants no interruptions. The next day is spent on the couch and some tea or juice is required. Then he is well again. When I am sick it creeps up on me and I start to drag. When I finally do go to bed for some rest the chances are high that I will get hungry and thirsty but not be able to move myself. So what is it that I do when my beloved is sick? I continually wake him up trying to give him food and drink. When I am sick he tucks me in and leaves me there, never checking to see if I need anything. All of this is done with the greatest of love and the best of intentions. We are treating our loved one exactly as we ourselves would like to be treated.

Compassion requires a little more insight. We are doing well up to the point where we recognize that, like ourselves, the other person has needs, is vulnerable to suffering and desirous of joy. The challenge is providing the exact sort of care. Relationships, especially intimate ones are a journey towards this understanding. The simple part, the very essence of our humanity, is that we can look upon other living creatures and see a being, just like ourselves, vulnerable and fragile sometimes, fighting strong at other times. Just like ourselves. What do we want? We want to be loved, accepted, treated kindly, to experience joy and not to suffer. This is what all creatures want. How to deliver it to them may be the more challenging task, but feeling compassion for them starts with this understanding.

This won't work for everyone, but in my daily practice of compassion I take the powerful love I feel for my son and I look at everyone thinking, this is someone's baby. Everyone.

If you are vegan, this compassion extends to all living beings, according them the same rights to joy and freedom from suffering that you would wish to have.

In the spirit of compassion I attempt to be an informed consumer and use health and beauty products that neither test on animals nor use animal ingredients. Here are some of my favourites skin care companies. They are not exorbitantly priced and are becoming increasingly available in mainstream drugstores and grocery stores. If you like to spend more money, products abound.

Kiss My Face
Beauty Without Cruelty - BWC

Peta is always a source of information and their website has information on beauty products. If you are not interested in being bombarded with images of animals suffering in factory farms (something we should not be closing our eyes to) I recommend this website.

(I have this site bookmarked and I've checked, it is still there. This link isn't working although I've double checked in case I've made an error) Let me know if you spot an error. It's a good site.
Compassion is true beauty.





Maria Killam said...

Loved this post on compassion and the vegan women are stunning (and thanks so much for pointing out the sofa UNDERNEATH THE STAIRCASE, instead of a niche, as I called it--whew what would I do without my generous readers!!)xoxo Maria

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