What IS Compassion?

Discussion in 'Members Lounge' started by Ailish, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    In spiritual circles we speak a lot about “having compassion” for others – and for ourselves. Everyone you speak with – claims that aside from love, compassion is one of the most important things you can give to another person.

    If it is fairly “common knowledge,” then how do we get so far away from the heart of compassion?

    I have seen many people who claim to be spiritual show very little regard for others’ feelings, hold onto petty grudges, and outwardly seek -with intent- to hurt another being with their words and/or actions. These individuals actions are based in egocentricity – and they are limited by the negative energies of hatred, jealousy and anger.

    I admit I am not even close to perfect – I get angry when someone else aims darts my way. Or when someone threatens, intimidates or runs down someone I love. But I am continually learning and growing - and I know that each form of resistance or negativity is a challenge - a lesson. 90 percent of the time I am pretty good about being compassionate first and foremost. When I’m not – I know I am doing wrong and feel a terrible guilt – a horrible twisting sensation in my solar plexus. It never takes me long to resolve the situation. ;)

    I know what compassion means to me personally. It’s something my friends and I have discussed in depth quite frequently. Now I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    What does compassion mean to you? Why have we fallen so far away from the ability to love and to be compassionate towards others – even those who we feel do us harm? How do we learn to embrace our compassionate side again at a familial level? A national level? A global level?

    If you have a story to share – or a specific writing, or favorite quote about compassion, or even if you just feel like sharing your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.


    Aili :D
     
  2. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    I believe that when a person is outwardly saying something or doing something, they are trying to get the other person's attention saying "hey you have hurt me, darn it, now deal with it!" A person does not want to be shrugged off, told "oh I am sorry that you have chose to feel this way" and then not have the issues resolved. That is NOT compassion. Compassion is the act of kindness from someone that helps alleviate suffering in those that they love. Communication is a two way street, and people sometimes say/do things to attempt to get the communication going. I believe that people sometimes can take things too far, like a jealous ex stalking their former lover, and/or when people take it to violence. To me, that is NOT acceptable and is NOT love/compassion.


    People hold on to grudges, because they are most likely from more than one life, and the energy reintroduces itself once the cycle resumes between the people. Or the grudge is similar to another one from another time, and the unresolve is there.


    A person who forgives people for their shortcomings and mistakes and resumes their friendships without any grudges is true to compassion. A person who judges people and cuts them off for no reason is NOT compassionate. A person who forgives the driver in front of them for cutting them off and doesn't honk or flip them off is compassionate. The driver who reacts negatively/or the one doing the act of cutting another person off is NOT.


    I believe we need to be aware of our selves, to know the true self, is the step to leading to our compassion. To be kind to ourselves if we make mistakes, to be kind to others when they do, and to accept our shortcomings, and to remember that the next time we make a mistake, to fix it the best way we know how.
     
  3. Amy

    Amy Senior Registered

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    Amen! I couldn't agree more. :thumbsup: ;)

    So true. Compassion comes from within and it shows in everything that you do and everything that you say. It shows on your face when you smile & in every kind word that you speak. :D Compassion is being willing to find a solution to a problem instead of creating other problems by dancing around the issue. Compassion is loving others enough to be brave and kindly say what you mean in such a way as to show love and caring even if your message isn't the most positive one. Life is full of positive and negative events. As humans, we must take the good with the bad but HOW we handle each event is what separates us as those who are spiritual from those who are merely living for the here & now & their own personal gratification.


    To me, compassion is what I feel when I see a stranger's smile to me because I've helped with something or the sound of laughter when I've made someone smile. I can feel this feeling in my heart that makes me want to cry with thankfulness because my creator has made me with the ability to help others and give to others & has rewarded me with the most profound love I've ever felt in my life. The love that he/she feels for me.
     
  4. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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    Hi Aili,


    I know you are aware of this old thread from 2003 -Reincarnation and Compassion, for those that aren't or have forgotten - there is some interesting information from various sources within it. :D I have come to believe that compassion is not something we do or give to others - it is something we become. Gregg Braden talks about this a lot in his books.


    Hi Aaron,


    There is a big difference between compassion and being responsible for how others choose to feel. When people become upset or angry over any given situation - they are responsible for how they choose to feel. Your quote "I am sorry you choose to feel that way;" should be viewed as an empowering statement. Each of us has the power to act and react in any given situation; if blame is placed on the other person - we give away our own personal power. ;)


    Nice thoughts Amy - thanks for sharing.
     
  5. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    Hi Aaron,


    Some interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing. :)

    I believe there are different ways of being compassionate – and some of them do not involve being present in someone’s life – who has hurt you. There are some people, who are simply what I consider to be “poisonous” to me. They are the constantly needy individuals who are always negative, that suck the energy right out of you. I have a few of those in my life – and I can be compassionate towards them – without sacrificing my own well being. For me – that means not blaming them or judging them for the choices they make – but it also means recognizing who and what they are. It is my choice to surround myself with positive people.


    I’ve had a few people I considered to be friends – turn and stab me in the back. I’ve forgiven them, but that does not mean I will ever trust them again. To devalue a friendship with anger, judgment or lies - to not stand up for someone you have a relationship with - to speak untruthfully behind their back.....well...it's forgivable. But it doesn't equal trust. With my "friends" - I've wished them well – but I do not want them to be part of my intimate circle of friends.


    I think that a lot of hurt and frustration comes from having expectations of people. True love between individuals exists without strings – without expectation. And in my understanding - compassion does not mean owing another being allegiance, or friendship – or love. It simply means understanding and accepting them for who they are – without judgment.


    Aili :)
     
  6. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    Hi Deborah


    Thanks for your thoughts as always, however, I think the phrase works best when used appropriate. When someone is genuinely hurt, and it's used to sidestep issues between people, then it doesn't work. But alas, we can agree to disagree in that situation. I do, however understand the concept of the phrase bringing about empowerment to people.


    Ailish,


    I totally agree, that if you feel you are sacrificing your own well being, then yes, you should move on, and make sure the reasons why are crystal clear. People need to know the truth, as it empowers them to make change if they are made aware of their habits that aren't maybe even obvious to them!


    I thought of something else too. I think that fear is a factor behind people's negativity, and behind the reason why some people drain others. Personally, I know I can be too much for people. I have learned this well over the years and now have learned to rely on myself for that certain self confidence that I didn't have growing up. That's been a huge part of my recent successes in career/personal growth in the past few months. It's easy as a boss to look at my coworkers and say "oh my gosh he is lazy, or why doesn't he do it right", but then on the flipside of that, I could be asking "I wonder if he's ok, have I asked him lately how things are going?" and not judge that person if their behavior is a bit off than the norm, or if they aren't able to open up about what bothers them. People look at me and ask all the time "What is so different about you" and I know it's not just about the weight that's gone, there's also the baggage that I was unaware that I had still carried on to for quite a while.


    It's so interesting you brought this thread up. I have been thinking of ways in my life (in the last month) that I could do to show more compassion. I have only a few petite ones for example, but one for me is to thank people more often for things and to tip a bit more to people who serve me coffee or food, and to be more forgiving of people who cut me off on the freeway. But any start is a good start, and hopefully it grows more with myself as time goes on.


    Amy,


    Thanks for your thoughts......you seem like quite a nice person! We should talk more. :D


    Aaron
     
  7. vicky

    vicky Senior Member

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    If one says 'I'm sorry you choose to feel that way', it does empower the other person to realize that they are making a choice to be angry or upset. This is a fact-that you choose your reactions, even if you feel incapable of choosing a healthier reaction to a given situation.


    However, if we are talking about taking responsibility and compassion, I believe we need to take the time to care enough to find out why others feel the way they do or react the way they do. Is it the way perhaps that we ourselves approached the situation that evoked a reaction? Is it compassionate to find out if there is anything we can do to help that other person resolve their feelings?


    I think so and I would worry that saying that you are sorry that someone chooses to feel that way might be a way to avoid looking at one's own approach or part of any given situation.


    Vicky
     
  8. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    Hi Vicky,

    I would say yes – in most situations. But there are also extenuating circumstances, I believe.

    Again – that depends not only on the person, but the situation, I believe. Sometimes Zen is the better way to go.


    I do agree that certain people can act out – for attention. And yes – they are usually lacking something in their present lives. BUT – are those the type of people you want to surround yourself with? And how much of yourself do you need to give another person before he/she is happy? What about in the cases – where no matter how much you give, they always take more? And as individuals – how dependent should we be on others for our own happiness? Is it considered uncompassionate – if you are unable to constantly give of yourself to someone?


    Imo – friendship is a two-way thing. It is give AND take. You can be a compassionate individual without sacrificing the very core of who you are. I’ve been there and done that – mostly because I could not say “no” when someone needed my help. But I am learning – for my own peace of mind – that I cannot be there for everyone all of the time. Especially when they are not willing to help formulate the change themselves, but prefer to remain “stuck” in misery and negativity. That victim mentality definitely garners a certain kind of sympathy from people – but usually not for long.


    I have a personal example. In my life – I had a friend named Mike. I did everything I could do for Mike – held his hand through the rough times, encouraged him – helped him buy groceries, pay rent. I was available for him – whenever he needed me. However – at some point he began to expect me to be there for him – and got angry when I wasn’t able to be (due to classes or other commitments)!!!


    He started to act up for attention. Conversations became a huge chore – he was always negative, never had anything positive to say. Everyone else was the cause of his problems – never himself. Never once did Mike help me work through a problem – he made everything out to be about him every single time. Despite all of the time I spent with him – encouraging and talking about positive change, he would not do it for himself. I understood his need and I felt sorry for him – that he wasn’t strong and capable enough to stand on his own two feet. I continued to give of myself, regardless of the toll this relationship was taking on me personally. But there is only so long you can keep doing that before you are worn out and exhausted.


    I’m sure we all have met and/or known people like that in our lives – but am I uncompassionate for ending the friendship? It wasn’t really what I deem a friendship – it was a dependency. I feel compassion for him – for his life and his situation. I wish him well – but that doesn’t mean I am willing to let his depression – and his negativity become a ruling force in my life. I don’t think that is uncompassionate – or even unreasonable. He is responsible for his choices and feelings. Imo – part of being compassionate – is to give the people the tools to change. What they choose to do with it – is completely their own choice.


    Aili :)
     
  9. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    Ailish,


    Thanks for sharing your story, nobody would blame you for not wanting to be around someone who doesn't want to help themselves. I have had to tell people before what I thought of their situation as hard as it was, but I felt that as their friend I had a responsibility of telling them otherwise. That's using compassion to alleviate the issue, not just going along with it and enabling their pity and misery.


    My point is that it's not compassionate to cut people out of your life over trivial things, things that can be worked out, and things that are not of harm to another, for no reason. It's not compassionate to judge people, accuse them of things that they have not done, and make assumptions based on a suspicious nature. That's just being plain cold and or paranoid.


    Vicky, well said.


    Aaron
     
  10. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    Hi Aaron,

    I agree. Being a good friend doesn’t just mean going along with someone for the sake of agreeing – but being able to share honestly and understand the other’s point of view. It also means – appreciating the fact that someone cares enough about you – to express their concerns, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Unfortunately, many people have a hard time hearing a truth about themselves and that can make things extremely tenuous at times. Even remaining compassionate when telling someone your opinion – doesn’t guarantee a good outcome – unless they choose it.

    That’s precisely why I choose to surround myself with positive, compassionate people. There is too much joy to be found in everyday life - to worry about who is talking behind your back, or carrying a grudge against you. Those thoughts just keep a person bogged down in negativity. Talk about a waste of energy!


    I have a lot of acquaintances that I hang out with – but there are very few people that I consider true friends. They are the ones I trust implicitly – to be honest with me at any cost. I cherish them – simply for who they are – with no expectations. I wouldn't trade those few precious souls - for anything.


    Aili :)
     
  11. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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  12. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    I'd like to bring this thread back to the original topic. I am not looking for responses about how you feel others should treat you - or where you find them lacking. One must BE the change they want to see.


    I am interested in knowing what compassion means to you personally - and how you can affect positive change:

    As Deborah pointed out earlier - Gregg Braden has spoken a lot in his books about compassion and our ability to affect change at various levels to work toward peace.

    The Dalai Lama gives speeches about compassion as a pathway to global peace. There are many, many links to videos of him speaking to youths and adults. An example of one of his recent speeches below:

    Aili ;)
     
  13. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    Ailish, do you think part of the change starts with knowing yourself? I did mention that earlier on. Doesn't that help start a peace of mind for the person, hence bringing on a healthier perspective? Also , I did say that for me personally "compassion is the act of lessening suffering for others". What does it mean to you personally?


    So according to Braden, how the world is on the outside is brought out from what we think inside? I see the world as a marvel, different pieces of art, with passions running everywhere, even in the places you wouldn't think they were. So I guess that means I think that way about myself too?


    I really like the quote from the Dali Lama :


    “When anger comes, separate the self from it. Look at it as an object and oneself as the subject. It is something hot, something rough. As soon as you look at it as an object, it is immediately weakened.”


    I think anger is a huge issue in today's world, along with the expectations (as you mentioned earlier on) of other people. It's easy to get caught up in those kinds of things, because we do get attached.


    With the constant stream of media/entertainment everywhere, what would you suggest for people to do to get away from that noise for a while to reflect on their own lives? That can be a challenge as most of us work daily and don't have that kind of space to just be with ourselves until we go home. Do you feel there's a way to separate from the daily attachments and get that moment to just be? Let me know what you think.


    Aaron
     
  14. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    Hiya Aaron,

    Yes, of course. By knowing yourself – you also come to know and understand others. I believe that one of the most important tenets from the ancient texts – is the one that reminds us that there is only really one of us here - a single consciousness - which is experiencing through many bodies. The degree of our consciousness and experience "from the lightest of the light to the darkest of the dark" are all part of the Source.


    Darkness is only possible in the presence of light and light is only possible in the presence of dark. In reality we live the experience of both, and both are only possible in the presence of the other.


    When we come to the understanding that there is a single Source of all that is, then we have opened the door to healing the illusion of separation. It is in the presence of that healing that our bodies respond. Braden speaks at length about it – about how this holds our greatest possibility for the healing of our bodies and the healing of nations. By simply embracing the possibility that there is one Source, and all that all we witness and experience is of that Source, we are invited to transcend our judgments. As we do so, the polarities fall away.


    Braden says that the key to this time in history is to transcend judgment, to allow for the possibility that light and dark are one and the same, and as the Egyptian Master Thoth said, “different only in seeming and part of an even greater force.” If we embrace that, we open the door to the possibility of compassion.

    Braden states that from the perspective of the ancient Essenes, every human on the earth is an initiate in the Mystery School that we call Life. Whether they are conscious of it or not, every human will experience in the presence of others mirrors of themselves in that moment. If we have the wisdom to recognize those mirrors, we may accelerate the evolution of emotion and understanding.


    He expands on the Essene's beliefs - that for us to know and master ourselves in this world, we will see one or some combination of mirrored patterns in others. The seven mirrors are progressively more and more subtle. Back in the ’70s, people were discussing the first mirror - who you are in the moment. The idea was - that if you find yourself around individuals who are angry or dishonest, they are showing you your dishonesty or anger.


    The ancient Essenes had a very sophisticated understanding of interpersonal human relationships and the role of emotion in those relationships. Braden’s books are quite interesting. I’d highly recommend reading them if you are interested in expanding your knowledge. You can find links to several of Braden’s books in the Books and Links section of the forum. ;)


    Also - have you watched Rob's video yet? It's got a wonderful message. :)

    I live in a big city – I work full time – and I am constantly busy with projects, yet I make that time for personal reflection. To me - it's an important part of my day. Granted, many people have busy lives and are raising families on top of it - but I feel that if you make it a priority, you can find the time each day. Even if 15 minutes is all the time you can spare - it's definitely worth it.


    There are a multitude of ways to find the time each day, but people also have to be willing to give something up to gain something. Turn off the t.v. Turn off the radio. Turn off the computer, the video games, and the ringer on your phone. Those are all things you have control over.


    Like the Dalai Lama said “People who are always watching TV, listening to music, walking somewhere--they cannot enjoy inner peace. They cannot enjoy a time of peaceful reflection. They need some kind of external stimulation all the time. Without it, it seems like they do not know what to do.”


    People are so used to looking outwards – they’ve forgotten how to look inwards. ;)


    Have a great day!


    Ailish
     
  15. Lauren

    Lauren Senior Registered

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    Aaron,

    There is a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle in which he describes many ways to not only appreciate, acknowledge and be in the Now within the realities of life; but also to be constantly aware that right Now is all that really exists. It's a great read.
     
  16. Lauren

    Lauren Senior Registered

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    This was in my email this morning. I recieve daily meditations from a web site called http://www.dailyom.com; whoever is writing them does a great job as they are always relevant and to the point.

    :D Have a great day!
     
  17. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    Thanks for sharing, Lauren!

    How true! It's definitely more difficult to be compassionate towards someone who has hurt you - but I think that forgiveness goes a long way to understanding - which in turn leads to a more profound compassionate awareness.

    I really liked this part ;)
     
  18. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    Wow, thanks for sharing Lauren! I think that a huge part of compassion is trying to see other pov's.


    Ailish, I really believe that understanding on a deeper level is an essential way to create a better existence for all.


    I wanted to throw out a kudos to you Ailish, for making this thread as it has given me a lot of things to think about, about me, and about how I view myself and the world around me. There's a lot of great responses here and I hope that other members will read it and join in their thoughts.


    To know more of ourselves and to understand more of ourselves and others leads to more happiness, and to compassion.


    Aaron


    (ps Ailish, put back the other avatar. You are absolutely adorable and that picture was way nice!!!)
     
  19. Lauren

    Lauren Senior Registered

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    You're welcome for sharing!


    The last 6 or 8 months have been a journey into myself to find compassion and loose judgments. I'm studying to be a family therapist and something that one of my professors said made me realize that there is no way I can help heal people in the way I hope to, unless I can be wholly compassionate, centered, and nonjudging. It's been really liberating, and I like myself a whole lot more too!


    I agree that it is a great thread, thank you Ailish!! ;)
     
  20. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    I’m glad you're both enjoying the thread. ;) Good thought-provoking conversations. :thumbsup:


    Aaron – thank you for the compliment. I'll put it back if I can fix it up a bit - the crop made it a bit fuzzy. Right now I am in ballet mode – hence the mini-ballerina. : angel :D
     
  21. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    I have to say that I find it hard NOT to judge sometimes. And for the longest time, I wasn't aware that it was an issue for me.


    Ailish, the ballet girl fits you as well, it shows the spirit within quite well. :cool
     
  22. tanguerra

    tanguerra Moderator Emeritus

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    I have been having a bit of a problem with my sister lately and 'compassion' has been uppermost in my mind on pondering what to do about the situation.


    We are not on speaking terms sadly and have not been for many years at her insistence. She is a bit 'peculiar' (yes, even more than me :) ). However, it seems to be getting worse in recent years and what was once a tolerable oddity is becoming very worrying. My private suspicion is some form of mild but undiagnosed schizophrenia.


    Anyway, I ran into her at a party the other week and she was very rude to me indeed, shouted at me to 'leave her alone' although I had only come over to say 'hello' as politely and gently as I could. She soon got to the point where I thought she might even strike me, so I just walked away into another room to let things cool off a bit and think what to do.


    My first instinct was to become very hurt, angry and indignant at this behaviour until I stopped and had a think. I tried to see things from her point of view. I thought how unfortunate it is for her to have this affliction. How unhappy and anxious she always seems to be and has been most of her life come to think of it. How little I really have suffered in comparison (a bit of rudeness and shunning after all is not the end of the world).


    We also have a bit of bad karma I'm afraid. There are several rather blood curdling tales which I am aware of where we have been perpetrator and perpetratee on different occasions if you take my meaning. Our relationship has never been an easy or happy one (not just this life)! Part of the bone of contention in this and other lives has been to do with my friend X (who was with me at the party as well, which is probably at least partly what set her off!).


    She does not remember past lives, but I do, so really with this advantage, I thought it is up to me to try to do something to make this right, as I would dearly love to do. I don't bear her any ill will or hold any grudges against her for past misdeeds in this life or any other. That was then and this is now and I think it is more important to focus forwards on solutions than backwards on recriminations. I really don't want to keep doing this with her for another 100 years. But I still don't know what to do to help.


    I am sure, however, that having love for her as my sister, and compassion for her obvious unhappiness is the first step. Perhaps an opportunity will present itself one day when I can do her some important service? I dearly hope so.


    I did at least enlist our younger sister after this incident to give her a call after a while (so she does not think we are plotting against her) to just check how she is doing as she does not seem to bear her any grudges (real or imaginal) at this point.
     
  23. crystal_44

    crystal_44 Crystal

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    I've had my share of fair-weather friends, and it took me a long time to realize that simply, that is how they are. I can worry about what they may say or do to me, but what good will it do? Only they can change themselves, and you shouldn't live your life according to the actions of others. I think that when you realize this, you no longer feel hatred towards those who have wronged you, but you begin to understand their perspective. It is best, however, to avoid an angry person, but you can still show them kindness should you encounter them. To me, to show love to those who have wronged you, that is true compassion.
     
  24. Jamieevans

    Jamieevans New Member

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    To think of and try to help, understand or be kind to others, despite your own feelings or situation. To give respect to everyone even if they've done you wrong, to try and work out why people are the way they are or why they do whatever...I believe the work of W H R Rivers is a great example of a truly compassionate man.
     
  25. Lauren

    Lauren Senior Registered

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    The situations that are the most difficult to show and feel compassion are those that test us and trigger us. Family are especially good at both testing and triggering us because of our emotional attachements and investments. Tanguerra, I believe that as long as what you do is from your heart it is all that you can ask of yourself; as this is all we can control in this life. Best of luck.
     
  26. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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    Understanding another's POV is important if you value the relationship. Approaching any situation with a desire to see it...from the other's POV is the trick.


    When in doubt - ask questions. It usually clears up any and all misunderstandings or preconceived notions. ;)
     
  27. Aaron

    Aaron Senior Registered

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    *sigh* now if only I could get those who I love so much, and who just frustrate me so much, to just be straightforward with me. That would sure help. ;)


    I am glad that I am honest about how I feel, and that no one is left in the dark wondering anything. : angel
     
  28. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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    (((((Aaron))))))
     
  29. Charles Stuart

    Charles Stuart Probationary

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    Hi to all of you,


    I watched a DVD yesterday called "We are all One", in which a woman monk was asked about compassion, and this is what she said:


    "If a thief approaches you to rob your hard earned money, of course you will feel no compassion for him. But ask him who is mother is, and he might say: "she is dead". Ask him who his father is, and he might say: "I don't know". Do this: try to find out who the other person is, what his feelings are, what effects your actions and words will have upon this person. Put yourself in this person's place. This is "compassion"..."


    :thumbsup:
     
  30. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    Lovely, Charles, thank you for sharing. Very true. ;)
     

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