Mary told John: “You need to become compassionate.”
John looked up the word compassionate in the dictionary.
It said: “Feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others.” John wasn’t quite sure what compassionate meant through that definition for he always thought that he felt concerned for others, so he looked for another definition: “A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
John understood the meaning of compassion better through the second definition. Then, he decided that from now on, he will “practice” that compassion.
Mary had a severe cold. John could see that Mary was suffering. John “practiced” feeling sympathy for Mary. He also followed up with a “desire to alleviate” her cold. “Can I hand you some tissue?” He asked.
Mary saw “improvement” in John. She said “Thank you for asking.”
That created the necessary rapport for John to practice that “compassion.”
He thought he was being compassionate now… He was “improving.” 🙂
Reality is that John wasn’t compassionate even after “practicing” for many months. For instance, he wasn’t able to feel empathy for suffering animals. That wasn’t part of his “practice” of “compassion.”
John was merely conditioned to practice his improved “good manners” in front of people.
This little example, shows how our “spirituality of practice” have been shaping individuals into fake ones.
There are things which need “practice” to become more proficient at, but values are not part of that.
So what do we DO to become “better”?
Nothing at all. The thing is not to BECOME something which we don’t even know what IS, what is the extent of it.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” sounds good to “practice,” but apparently that doesn’t work in a war… or even as close as the “office world.”
The thing is to OBSERVE to BE AWARE of what IS… what we ARE.
WHAT IS, is not necessarily the way we ACT: I can pet the neighbor’s dog and look “loving and concerned,” while inside me a thought could be saying: “Nasty mutt.”
If we are AWARE of that inner conflict, that is where “betterment” starts…. But we have been trained to suppress that thought with a “loving” one: “ You are such a precious dog.”
That is the greatest lie.
We have been trained to add words as “objective to achieve,” as in: “I need to be more caring with animals and people.” This mitigates our sense of guilt, whenever we see that our attempt to BECOME some moral value, does not work.
All we need is a little AWARENESS of the NOW.
Forget the nice words: Love, compassion, gentleness, peace, etc. and the opposite words as well. Those words don’t help at all. Those are only words.
Awareness of what we feel. Awareness of our own relaxed presence or lack of. Awareness of the stream of thoughts and words. That is all.
One day, we may even question ourselves after our observation: Is that ME?
That is a sign that betterment is on the way, without “practice.”