It's never finished - It never ends
Yesterday was the final session of our fourteen week study of the ACA Laundry List Traits. Pairing reflections on each trait with an aspect of Buddhist teaching for the past nine weeks of blogging has been a fun and helpful exercise. Integration of what one is learning with how one is and how one thinks and how one might change is important to me. My work in ACA has not ended with the culmination of this Traits Study. My growth as a Buddhist practitioner is ongoing, as is my understanding of faith, life, self and relationships. I will continue to reflect on this growth in the coming weeks, while continuing to highlight various important aspects of the Dhamma.
I would note here as an aside that I am mostly using the Buddhist terms in their original Pali. This is the language of the Buddha. His teachings were later translated into Sanskrit and other languages. The Theravada tradition I am immersed in leans on the Pali. Dhamma is Pali. Dharma is Sanskrit. Same word, same meaning. Do you remember this one? Dhamma is the way things are…which is another way to describe what the Buddha taught. It is not a revelation, not a belief; it is simply a statement of what is.
In the last post I began looking at the Brahma Viharas: the Divine Abodes (Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity). Today I will focus on Compassion, which in Pali is the word Karuna.
I can jump right into my ACA program here and say that two of the main things I have been working on are Compassion for Self and Learning to Pause (instead of react). Compassion for others has really never been a problem for me. In my years as a Christian minister compassion is what I taught, preached and tried to model. Compassion is the effective essence of Grace (“love to the loveless shown” from the hymn, My Song is Love Unknown). From the self-sacrifice of Jean Valjean to the tender mercies of Mother Teresa, compassion is known as that which can transform suffering.
Let me jump in here with what Karuna practice looks like. Do you remember what I said about the repetition of phrases for Metta practice. Here is how that might look for Karuna/Compassion (taken from a Dharma talk by Jill Shepherd).
I am aware of your suffering.
I care about your suffering.
May you know release in your suffering.
May you be at peace.
Note that there is no fixing or rescuing here, no promise that the suffering will diminish, though a clear prayer that there will be release of some sort. Compassion/Karuna gets alongside the sufferer, and holds them in arms of care, presence, love and hope.
Here’s the truth: I could write about nothing else but Compassion for the rest of my life, and not exhaust the subject nor its centrality. My tagline for my meditation is, “May I find my rest in Compassion”.
And, I must keep coming back to the importance, again and again, of bringing compassion to myself, to my Inner Child, to my circumstances, to my relationships, to my words, and to my actions.
A daily mantra of mine, which I will detail in a few weeks includes this:
”Breathing gently I remember with compassion and wonder that this body will grow old.”
Compassion/Karuna and wonder. The work of recovery/self-compassion is never finished. The call to compassion never ends. Love never ends (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 13) Namaste.
…and love from these colorful shots taken on Bell Island, Rowayton, CT.