Compassion as Action.

After my brief segue into why I think that I have a legitimate excuse to not do dramatic good in the world (on account of being an introvert and all)  and my realisation that I pretty much don’t have a leg to stand on, I want to look more at the idea of ‘compassion’ and it’s role in our lives.

In ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’  (which I first wrote about here ), Karen Armstrong stresses that compassion has been seen (by not just the three monotheistic religions but also by Buddhism, Confucianism and Jainism), as a skill to be learned and then practiced. The Buddha, for instance, realised that merely having a religious experience wasn’t enough; to be moral and compassionate a person you had to go into society and practice alleviating misery. You shouldn’t just bask in the fabulous one-ness with the universe and walk around with a smile on your face. You need to actually do something.

When applying this to myself (because isn’t that what we all really want to do?) I realise that, while I may not currently feel that have any sort of connection to a personal diety and/or magnificent overarching presence, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t work on my own skills. I know full well that I could be far more of a ‘force for good’ in the world that I am now (clearly just having lots of cute babies isn’t quite enough) so I need to work on myself and do  something.

Yesterday morning by 8am I had yelled at everyone in my house. 4,6,8 or 44 years old, didn’t matter. Individually, they had done enough to irritate me to mean that they each got their own personal lambasting.

I’ve got a loooong way to go.

For the first step in an individuals ‘compassion journey’ (I know that ‘journey’ is hugely overused, but I’ve always wanted to be a joiner), Armstrong suggests that we go to the Charter for Compassion site and sign up, as a kind of symbolic act. I love a symbolic act. Then we learn about compassion in different religions and she suggests some different books to read.

Symbolic acts and further reading? I am totally rocking this compassion thing!

2 thoughts on “Compassion as Action.

  1. Producing lots of cute babies is a glorious joy for your family, but it’s lousy for the planet. My activist compassion means think of the good of the whole. One person, one baby. We share an ecosystem, a climate. Our descendents will have a right to blame the grownups of the present for problems way to complicated and enormous —a Perfect Storm of problems. I know very very well the yearning to have children, and finally had one. However, that quickly becomes exponential.
    Compassion includes restraint. I think your blog is a great idea. I’m an agnostic ethicicist and a Buddhist who does not believe in reincarnation.
    Mary Hebblewhite, GA
    I am training in a Buddhist philosophy based teacher training program called cognitive Based Compassion Training. thru Emory University in Atlanta. This is still being researched. It is very interesting and useful.

  2. That is such a valid point. And you know, when I decided to have a fourth child I did have the thought that this isn’t the best idea for the planet. I consider myself environmentally aware, but I just couldn’t resist the baby hunger.
    Mind you, I did take measures to ensure that I wont have anymore. I’m surprisingly upset about it, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
    Agnostic ethicism sounds fascinating.


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