Compassion Alchemy: Finding a Balance Between Caring and Suffering

Share this with your friends

PHOTO: James Jordan

Suffering and compassion: do they go hand-in-hand?  Are they akin to Mother Theresa and the poor, forever together as though stuck in perpetual balance?  Or is that even balance?

To me, balance of two opposites cancels them both out.  Makes them neutral, Par, pH 7.   We suffer; and compassion eases it.  Over and over and on the every daily.

So why do we do it?  Do we control it?  Can we control it?  It sounds like a lifetime of struggle when I think of it that way!  Is this all that we are?  All that life is?  Struggle, hardship, and then the comfort of compassion? Oh how our human minds can see life and its processes as erratically out of our own control.  How wrong we are, but what if the struggle is the whole point?

BalanceMaybe it’s the trip up the mountain, not the view from the top.  Is it the learning and the testing and not the graduation?  Is it the act of getting hurt and not the state of being healed that takes us to that other state of enlightenment known as true happiness?

Can we prevent suffering?  What does that take?  Money? Time? How much effort?

There must be a pill I can take.  A vaccine with a catchy name like ‘Nosuffrvax’?  What about a compassion pill?  Or a vaccine that gives us compassion.  Its name would be made so as to feel soft and comforting as it slips off the tongue—something like ‘Compashvax’.

My online thesaurus tells me that one word with similar meaning to compassion is Humanity.  Huh.  Then why do we Humans have such a problem expressing, feeling, and using it on a day-to-day functional basis?

Some say compassion fits into the “use it or lose it” category.  Where like a muscle, if you stop using it compassion atrophies, shrinks, and forgets how to be itself.  Forgets its purpose, its entire point of being.

Here are some things that I know about compassion:  to some of us, those who have endured the breaking point and come out the other side, know compassion as a natural companion now.  It is now a feeling as unavoidable as hunger, and as normal as breathing.  We feel no longer individual, we see ourselves as one with one another—one with every other.

Some of us even feel other’s pain, knowing as though being whispered to by the Goddess who needs help and where.  I call these people ‘light-workers’ and let me tell you…We are a growing force.

People like myself, who grew up somewhat inside ourselves, woke up one day with it like a tick under our skin.  It started with holding doors and smiling at strangers.  Then quickly graduated to outright offering to assist people in public.  And the best part of that, is seeing their surprise turn to gratitude when the helping is done.

I’ve heard activism can feel this way too: you do it; because you cannot not do it.

The final phase of the compassion implantation process for me at least, was a difficult one.  At times, I felt like the nosy neighbor and was told to mind my own business.  The final phase is being aware of those around you and being ready to lend a hand, alert those in charge, or simply show support.

For those who are still inside themselves, this can appear offensive and strange.  Those are the people still undone, waiting to come out the other side.  And you can only do so much, as time is an excellent mason to help them break down that fortress-like barrier they’ve built up to protect themselves.

Possibly the most crucial point about compassion remains the fact that it’s quantity is not finite.  They make it every day.  Or rather we make it every day.

For those right brained people, imagine suffering as vinegar and compassion as baking soda.  Together, you get bubbles of good intentions that act as a catalyst affecting anyone and everyone in their reach.

Have you ever seen how far the rings can spread from a droplet in the ocean?  Each of us can be our own compassionate alchemists.  See who all we can infect with our unconditional love and acceptance.

Yet alas, life cannot be only struggle and then the pursuit to balance the scale.  For we are only human.  At some point, we must take time to recalibrate ourselves.  To lick our wounds.  To rest our own inner child. Sometimes other outside forces can step on our compassion or confuse it, using it for purposes outside its understanding.  Sometimes life gets in the way. Even our blessed Mother Theresa had her times of poor judgement, I have read.

In an effort to protect the many, we sometimes forget about the few.   And there are the light-workers who absorb suffering like a giant compassionate sponge.  They take it with them everywhere they go.  And it manifests itself in dis-ease and fatigue, eventually disrupting the balance between suffering and compassion.

Photo: Steve Hardy

Photo: Steve Hardy

Sometimes I think life is made up of so many fine lines.  This balance can sometimes be the finest of lines.  How do we continue to give a shit about one another but keep it from tearing us down?  What good is helping someone in pain if the act of compassion merely transfers the pain to you?  Are you really more equipped to handle that pain?

A friend recently found a dying stranger and was the last person to show this woman love before she left our realm.  What made her do that?  How many others simply walked by?  And as she mourns this beautiful stranger named Sylvie, how many opportunities is she missing?  How many messages from Spirit has she missed because her head is down and mourning, questioning the ‘what if’s’?

In the end we learn very quickly, that compassion for another is void of meaning and content if you feel no compassion for yourself.  Light-workers know how dark the darkness can be.  The whole point of their being is to light the way for others, this force they cannot stop.

But we must all take care with ourselves, have as much love and patience for ourselves as we have for others. But we should not take on the pains of others without limitation.  We are our own frenemies at times, putting the needs of others before our own.  No good can come of this.  By living a connected life, we learn that we are a cog in the wheel that is missed when absent and necessary when here.

Compassion literally means ‘to suffer together’ as one online article stated.  In 2014 though, we’ve become accustomed to suffering.  We’re desensitized to it.  But research is proving that compassion and the acts that it provokes in us humans has a deeply rooted evolutionary purpose.   This solidly confirms to me that this connection to all the every others, is not only real, but it’s how it was meant to be right from the beginning of creation.