What does the word compassion mean to you? To some it is about sharing and doing good deeds to alleviate the suffering of others, but is this true compassion or sympathy?
Is compassion something we can cultivate and nurture, or is it present when we no longer have a desire to act from the dictates of the mind? Desire is the striving to bring about a change, creating a movement of ending pain and bringing further pleasure, either to the other person or our self. Many believe that compassion consists of a physical giving of time, money, food or advice, but this only alleviates the problem temporarily, as the real root of the cause has not been addressed. Only when the mind is not striving to act in a way to reject pain and bring about pleasure, can true compassion take place.
We as the human race have suffered for thousands of years, and some say we only learn through suffering, but still we have learnt nothing. This can be seen in the state of the world today; there is still major suffering and chaos. War is rife, together with starvation, abuse, corruption and separation between sects of humans. Acts of so-called kindness are only putting a plaster on a deep wound and we are not dealing with the reason why we feel so alienated from each other. We need to look much deeper at ourselves to find a solution to this chaos, as we are the world and the world is us. So any shift into realising the truth within our self will affect the whole human consciousness and the planet.
We are conditioned from birth to act in a certain way that is believed to be good and to avoid the bad. Even in small incidents such as being told you are "good" for eating all of your dinner, or you are "bad" if you don't. This conditioning has been so ingrained in our psyche through repetitive patterning that each of us requires a radical inner revolution to take place in order to put a stop to this madness. The first step is to admit to yourself that you have been conditioned, and that in actuality you don't know who you are and why you are living this life.
It is important to start with the self, as each individual is the key. The chaos in the world is not someone else's problem to solve; it is your problem to solve as the chaos is inside of you, so from this point on all blame has to end. There is no one else but you, and this makes you alone and responsible for your world, which includes how you think, react and do. Really look at this: someone says something negative to you and you react by defending yourself or someone pays you a compliment and you feel pleasure. This swing between wanting pleasure and rejecting pain is the very trap that has formed all the chaos in the world and it is also happening inside of you.
The world is in exactly the same state as the individual and everyone is striving to get out of the pain, so we do so-called good deeds to alleviate it. Yet the very question of why we are rejecting pain and desiring pleasure is never addressed, and so the chaos continues. To try and solve it we invent more heightened pleasurable pursuits and push harder at rejecting the pain, yet doing this will only make the suffering more acute. Pleasure and pain are the very opposite of each other and where one exists, the other will shortly follow. Out of a painful experience comes the good and vice versa; you can't have one without the other.
You can see this clearly in yourself by looking at your self judgments. There are things you like and things you dislike about yourself. If you look at them more deeply, you will see how they are based on what you believe you "should" be according to what will bring you pleasure or fulfil some sort of idea of what you perceive perfection to be. Does compassion have any relationship to like or dislike or is it there when you see these self judgments? Is compassion there when you see yourself for all that you are, and is there a feeling of letting go of all the expectations of yourself and others? If you can do this for yourself, then you will be able to look at others without judgment, and compassion will be present.
Even in the midst of deep suffering, can you see the circumstance as a whole? You can only do this by looking at it without any judgment, as it is this which reveals why the suffering is present. If you try to change it into pleasure, you've not helped at all, as sooner or later the problem will return. You can see this happening in relationships where a person keeps attracting similar partners with the same problem. The issue is not necessarily with the partner, it is with the individual him or herself; the root cause of their beliefs has not been solved, so they live in this state of continual drama. Compassion would be to see this happening and look at why.
Everyone you meet is a mirror to all that is distorted by the conditioning of good and bad within yourself. When you look at another can you recognise that the same pride, fear, anger, or jealousy which is in them is in you? If you can solve these issues within yourself by observing yourself without judgment, then this would make it possible for others to also solve it within them.
There really is only one total human being, and everyone else is just showing you yourself. Conditioning is split into billions of pieces, but when there is no conditioning, compassion, love and peace are present. That is the totality and reality of each of us moving as one.
To know yourself is the only way to break free from the restraints that conditioning, through society, religion and tradition, has placed upon you. Nobody can give you self knowledge; it is about you finding out about you from within yourself. We are so afraid to stand alone; our conditioning has made a great job of embedding that belief in our minds.
Compassion is not about doing "good" deeds in order to get some satisfaction or "ease" the suffering. Compassion ends suffering without involving pleasure. It is the ability to see something as it is and to have the audacity to challenge the illusion that is keeping the person caught in the perpetual swing between pleasure and pain. Compassion is love; it is the action of truth.
When you see that we are all conditioned to be fragments of the whole human being and play no part in it, separation has ended. This is compassion.