The Art of Compassion

How many times a day does it happen?

Someone frustrates you, cuts you off in traffic, gives you the finger, hangs up on you, or otherwise confounds the potential peacefulness of your day. It’s common, isn’t it? And the automatic knee-jerk response is to lash out, to blame the other person, to return hate with hate.

It’s not the way, my friends. I do it, too, so this lesson is as much for myself as it is for the world. But the reality is that what we put out there is what we get in return, so even if we think we are responding to someone else’s bad behavior, really, their actions are an invitation to us every single time to rise above and choose right.

In Buddhism, there are four immeasurable minds of lovingkindness, compassion, joy and letting go, and these should drive everything. Every step, every thought, every action.

People are put in our paths for US to learn, not for them. Last night, I spent hours with my aunt, who has been a sister-mother-confidante to me throughout much of my life.

As the setting sun outlined a crescent moon in a purple sky, we talked in the way of people who can be honest and clear, who are not afraid of reproach or judgment. I drove home with that supreme feeling of gratitude that I have people in my life who let me be me.

There is still family baggage to contend with and not every interaction is bliss, but the resonance of that relationship that endures and guides, is something.

This morning, my first reaction was to blame someone for leaving a mess. Until I learned that the someone I was to blame had befallen a terrible tragedy and escaped by the grace of another person who came to her rescue. It changed my perspective, allowed for forgiveness. It was I who learned to temper my reaction, quiet my tongue.

And after that lesson, I stepped outside to see a man from another office picking off dead flowers outside the building so that only the beautiful, blooming ones in full color remained. What a gift. It never occurred to me to care for the vegetation outside my office building, so thankfully there is someone who maintains the beauty that we walk past every single day.

That’s the way the world is. It simply IS. There is no good nor bad, just being, and it is we who are tempered, we who choose to color something in good tones and in bad. We can choose not to, as well. We can choose to let go of worry, anxiety, fear of the future, and be in this moment, do this work, and trust the rest to work out just fine.

Cliches abound like pinballs in a game, but they exist for a reason. Do what you love and the money will come. Do the work. 

I’ve studied far and wide, and I recognize the universal truths that surround us. We are all saying the same thing, speaking the same language, when we clear away clutter and listen to our hearts. It may sound touchy-feely to you, but there is no better truth.

When goodness drives you, you drive straight. When there is an ulterior motive, be it fame, attention, wealth, lust or anything else in that vein, you will drive off course.

All that exists is the work and the integrity. Sure, my clients pay me, but they pay me because I care about them and their businesses, and I do good work, work hard, tirelessly, to make sure they get everything they need and want and more. That is goodness. There is compensation along the way, but the goal is never wealth and it’s never ego.

The goal is to connect. To build relationships. To help others. To serve. To contribute to this world in a meaningful way so that it is a better place for my having walked on it.

I love my children because they are good souls and wonderful beings. Because they are gifts in my life, and I cherish them. Not mine to control, not mine to manipulate or brainwash. They are given to me to teach me lessons. And so the circle goes.

If anything here today enlightens your path, then I have done my job. Look at the world through a different lens. Please. I beg of you. The world’s endurance depends on all of us choosing the right path, at the right time.

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