Long ago when I was a part-time journo, I had attended a memorial service for a prominent business person. In a bleak and subdued atmosphere, many friends and acquaintance paid their tribute in narrow and humble voices. And finally a bit rustic, dishevelled and clearly an outsider of that bunch of people got up. Speakers, there were assured and eloquent, but he was certainly under great emotional stress, could barely speak.
With a choked voice, he simply and roughly translated his sentiments verbally that he was an office boy when his ‘Malik’ (boss) picked him, educated him and gave support.
“For a long time, I was a hopeless guy, no good to him, or to others. I always failed miserably even in trivial works. But he never gave up.”
Anyone could support success, but have faith in failure required special power. He added. He said tears in his eyes that he had lost his best friend.
The speech was short but so emphatic; I noticed people were weeping, not just for the man who had gone but for the unashamed sorrow of the follower.
This is what compassion can do. It’s a miraculous power of humanity, which is the most healing of human emotion, can transform the world. It was that the power those decades ago sent Albert Schweitzer to Africa. Without it there would be no welfare state, no RSPCA, no Red Cross or organizations like The Samaritans. It is the same power that made a young Macedonian girl to left his country and travelled far to East, later to be venerated as Mother Teresa. It is the same divine power that spread Ramkrishna Mission to every nook and corner of the world, has become the largest charitable monastery in the world. Look around and you see this healing force at work in all sorts of situations.
I met a man who used to live all alone in the hills. He was a middle-aged man living in his isolated cottage. He admired nature, animals and maintained a small yet beautiful garden. My city-bred friends regarded him with wonder.
“Don’t you ever get lonely?” asked one. “Oh”, he said, ‘if that feeling comes on the summer, I take a bunch of flowers to someone who can’t get out. And if its winter, I go out and feed the birds.”
An act of compassion was his instinctive antidote for loneliness.
Where does it come from, this extraordinary capacity to share another’s grief or feel another’s pain?
A man’s greatest wealth is his spiritual insight. The more one is spiritually fulfilled, the more he becomes intuitive and conscientious. The first stage of this compassion process is empathy; the projection of one’s own consciousness into another beginning.
The second one is courage. One can’t lead a peaceful life with afraid always knocks his door. Push all fear aside and translate all caring into action.
The third thing is the habit of helping. One needs to have this attitude to help people without any selfish motive. When you observe someone is in need and you can help a little, you help him. Of course silently or even in a reverse way to show that you don’t help but help him in anyways.
Fourth is detachment. One cannot do the right action without renouncement in his heart. If one is attached to sentiments, it leads to impulsive decisions, create familiarity and familiarity always breeds contempt.
All these qualities are latent in us and that adds up the deep tenderness, we call compassion.