Hello and welcome to Friday, August 9, 2019. This is a rare and precious day that will never come again. May you engage in all that you do with attention and intention.
I am going to suggest that you have compassion for hate-filled people and violent criminals. Radical? It is my hope that by the end of this message you will find that having compassion for these people is not radical. It is my hope that you will find it absolutely necessary.
I’ve received the message from many teachers that the more we call to mind and focus on the qualities that we want to embody, the more they manifest in our lives. Philosopher and psychologist, William James, suggests, “for the moment, what we tend to becomes our reality.” The more I keep compassion, for instance, in the forefront of my mind, the more my actions are generated from this loving quality.
In his book Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “sometimes my smile is the result of my happiness, sometimes my happiness is the result of my smile.” This is the inspiration for my message, “I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it.” Sometimes my message is an accurate reflection of how I truly feel. In all honesty, however, sometimes I say it when I actually don’t believe it. The action of saying or writing it, nevertheless, tends to create the genuine feeling within my heart. Though I aspire to live in a manner that consistently reflects my intention to love everyone equally and unconditionally, truth be told, for the time being, it would be more honest to say that I am selectively loving. Though I do my best and have come along way, I am a work in progress.
In reflecting on our experience, most of us would likely agree that it’s not difficult to have compassion (the activeand honest desire to eliminate suffering) for our struggling friends and loved ones. If a dear friend were sick or injured, most of us would offer our time by cooking them a meal, helping them clean or even just empathetically sitting with them while they convalesce. Other ways we can practice compassion is by volunteering our time in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen; listening to the story of a panhandling stranger and offering them some food; taking part in a peace rally; helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house. Even sending out intentional heartfelt prayers for those we aren’t in proximity with is an act of compassion. Intention from a distance has a measurable impact. The Institute of Noetic Sciences and the HeartMath Institute have copious research supporting the significance of intention.
Even though there is abundant love and compassion unlike any other time in history, there also seems to be a resurgence of hate and hate-crimes. Some of this hate comes in the form of a middle finger out the window, a refusal to serve someone in a restaurant, and some crimes, well, they’re just heinous. There was a time in my life when I hated and despised people who commit violent hate-crimes. Then, not so long ago, I received a teaching that suggests that not only do I have it within me to love and to be a saint, I also have the capacity to hate and to commit these very same atrocious crimes. I’m not so different! While there are those who are clinically insane, most of these criminals are just like you and I – we are different by degrees only. Not only is our reality manifested by what we pay attention to, we also give away what we’ve been given.
We give away what we’ve been given. As I let this sink in, as one who has suffered in many ways, I started to think about how much hateful people and those who commit these awful crimes must be suffering. Why are they hurting so bad? What are they paying attention to and why? What were these people given? How much suffering are these people experiencing that affords them the ability to follow through with such violent and hateful crimes?
Yes, I am suggesting here that we must extend compassion to these broken people – to all hate-filled people. We must do this because people who are happy and joyous don’t harm people. As we extend love and compassion to others, they have more love and compassion within them. Consequently, there is more love and compassion in the world. We give away what we have.
I am not suggesting that we invite these people into our homes and create the conditions where they can harm us. In many situations, the most compassionate act is the formation of a boundary. Many of these people need to be locked up. We must do our best to keep others from harming us. But these boundaries, whatever they look like, must be done from a place of genuine love and compassion. Otherwise, we are doing the same thing as they are – spreading hate.
If you find this radical, I understand. I did! Learning to cultivate compassion is a practice. It was suggested to me and I will suggest it to you: start by offering compassion to those who slightly irritate you and work your way towards those who you can’t currently imagine extending compassion to.
I love each of you and there isn’t anything that you can about it. I mean that!
With Love and Compassion,