Being compassionate -The art of Giving
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” Mother Teresa
Did you always think that giving and sacrificing were synonyms, think again. In fact, they are both diametrically opposed terms, while an act of sacrifice emits the ‘negativity’ of ‘lack, the act of ‘giving’ emits the positivity of abundance.
When you sacrifice, at some point you will feel resentment due to the lack which is consequential to the sacrificing act but when you give, you will only feel the love due to the abundance you receive in return. ‘Being compassionate’ is in coherence with the philosophy of ‘the law of attraction’, the more you shall give, the more you will receive.
Let me reiterate the relationship between ‘compassion’ and ‘the law of attraction’ with a real life story, At one point of time, Mother Teresa found herself running out of ration to provide for the next meal to the children putting up in her charitable home, but right before she was required to cook the next meal, a trader who was leaving Calcutta for good, donated all his grains (he traded in grains) to her, which took care not only of the next meal, but a lot of subsequent meals. This is how real the relationship between ‘compassion’ and ‘the law of attraction’ is.
Where to begin-Taking the first step
The process is not abrupt, like chiseling a rock, it is gradual.
Self-compassion-The first step is to extend compassion to your own self. Forgive yourself, release the burden of the past. It is breaking your spine. Remember, you can extend kindness to others only when you are kind to yourself. You can forgive others only if you forgive yourself. Start taking yourself more lightly; remove the cloak of the ego-look beyond yourself, you will find an entire world out there suffering in greater magnitude. When you concentrate on your own suffering, you will only self-aggrandize but when you endeavor to help others, you alleviate your own suffering. This is the wonderful process of compassion. An old Chinese proverb reiterates this-“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses”.
Step 2- The Next step-
Once you have mastered the art of being compassionate to yourself, you can begin by extending compassion to your friends and strangers.
Real compassion does not reek of attachment. When you engage in an act of generosity, if you have done it with an ulterior motive or with a view to receive accolades, then it would not qualify as an act of compassion, the reason is simple, somewhere in the distant future you will think to yourself-“I wish I had not given away that object, it could have come to good use now”. Therefore, the act is streaked with attachment. Wherever there is attachment, there will be gain and loss.
True giving is free of attachment. The act of generosity stems from the wish for another sentient being to benefit, it is free from the desire of receiving any direct benefit for the self.
However, I am not attempting to state that if the intention behind the act of generosity is selfish, then you completely pass off the idea of donating. We all have pretenses- “To beguile the time, look like the time, bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue, look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it” –Shakespeare. Gradually, like an onion, keep exfoliating the layers of pretenses, it is always possible to transform the intention, to downsize the pretenses to the minimal.
Next time before donating, try to rid yourself of the attachment to that object by visualizing-‘ Since happiness is a state of mind, why should I continue to believe in the fallacy that we derive happiness from external objects, this object that I hold in my hand has given me as much sensory pleasure as possible, since pleasure is transient in nature, the object cannot give me any more pleasure, whereas this person will immensely benefit from the object if it is given to him. It is in the interest of all sentient beings, that this object should be delivered to such person’.
By practicing this visualization, gradually you will become clearer about your intention behind giving. The feeling of attachment will be overcome by the feeling of love.
Step 3- Extending compassion to enemies
. This step may even perplex you at first but will appeal to you when you see the bigger picture. You may think, why would anyone want to be compassionate towards an enemy?
The answer lies within. When we have enemies, we live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. The greatest compassion you can show towards an enemy is by forgiving him– “forgive an enemy not because he deserves forgiveness but because you deserve peace”. Forgiveness brings about closure in your life, when you forgive, you close a previous chapter of your life, as a metaphor, consider this- how is it possible to read a subsequent chapter of a book when you are stuck in the previous chapter.
You have to realize that compassion is more of a mental state than a physical state. Therefore, you don’t even need to physically meet that person to forgive him, all you need to do is, forgive him mentally, through mental imagery, by gradually converting negative emotions into neutral emotions and then neutral emotions into positive emotions. You can practice this conversion of thoughts by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes or tracing his attitude to the root of all ills, i.e. ignorance-the inability to see the real purpose of life, but since you have uprooted ignorance, you must forgive.
Initially, even if you are giving with a feeling of attachment, keep giving. You have to realize, that the act of giving, tremendously benefits others’, whether well intentioned or not, whether it is the progeny of selfishness or selflessness. In the words of― Debbie Macomber-One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity- “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
The best way of being selfish is to become selfless, because by virtue of the law of attraction, the more you shall give, the more you will receive.
Be Compassionate-It is a means of reinforcing what it means to be human.