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The Radical Compassion Challenge

Written by: Patrick Batson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

One of the first things every student of Buddhism learns is that life is suffering. While that may sound a bit depressing in our world of unlimited options, it simply means that even the good things in life fail to bring us constant or lasting satisfaction.

Sadhguru, illustrates it this way: If you want to go to university but your application is denied, you feel you have failed and you fear for your prospects. Conversely, if you are admitted to the university you must work hard under stressful conditions and forego other things you want to do, such as earn money. Either way, you are dissatisfied, and thus you suffer.


This common suffering is typified by the feeling that we are not enough. Even those who seem to have everything in life still experience fear, regret, self-doubt, longing, grief, shame, and sadness. In other words, everyone on the planet feels incomplete in some way. Everybody suffers.


We Seek Compassion in Our Suffering


When we suffer, we seek kindness, patience, and empathy—all elements of compassion. The Latin root of ‘compassion’ means ‘to suffer together’. Receiving compassion from others amid our suffering reminds us that we are not alone in our pain, and it offers us hope.


While it is typically easy to offer compassion to a loved one, it can be difficult in our highly polarized world to extend compassion to those who don’t share our values—especially in the realms of politics, religion, and morality. We forget that feeling incomplete is often what drives someone to attack another—whether through physical violence, hurtful words, opportunism, or oppressive policies. We fail to see that their attack is a display of their suffering, and that they are trying to alleviate it by achieving validation for own values.


Everyone Deserves Compassion


When we become aware of our own feelings of incompleteness, we can begin to receive others differently. Rather than becoming upset when somebody says or does something we find offensive, we can instead say, “They are suffering in some way, and I am also suffering in ways. Thus, we are united in our suffering."

While it may seem counterintuitive, placing solidarity above temporary victory or “justice” offers a foundation for lasting positive change that no amount of resistance can match.


This doesn’t mean we should sit back and watch while others attempt to undermine values we hold dear. We must continue to work for what we believe in. But working is different than fighting. True compassionate action means working toward our own vision while continuing to seek and affirm the best in others, even when they support a different vision. By keeping in mind that they, too, seek relief from their own suffering, we can find common ground in this fundamental aspect of the human experience, even when we can find it nowhere else.


Practicing Radical Compassion


The challenge is to make radical compassion a daily practice. When someone is rude or hateful to us, or when they attack our values, we don’t have to push back. We can remind ourselves that they are suffering, and that we suffer together. We can offer them a smile or a kind gesture that says, “I see you, and I feel your suffering. I know that you can rise above your pain, so let me model it for you.”


When we demonstrate unconditional compassion, we acknowledge and amplify our inherent connection with others. Even those we with whom disagree. Even with those who may call us “enemy”. In addition to immediately defusing what might otherwise be a tense exchange, we experience personal benefits such as a stronger sense of purpose, healthier relationships, and even greater longevity. We may even help others achieve a more positive and loving outlook, which benefits all of humanity.


Is this Pollyanna thinking? Some might say so. But if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it is that half of the population trying to push its vision and will on the other half gets us nowhere fast. Perhaps it’s time to consider that what seems to divide us is actually what unites us.


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Patrick Batson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Patrick assists people on their journey of awakening to higher consciousness. Drawing upon decades of study and practice of Spiritual wisdom, as well as executive-level management and modern family life, Patrick serves as a guide for bridging the physical and Spiritual worlds. He has authored two books and publishes a monthly blog of channeled content on topics common to the human experience, as observed from the perspective of the Higher Self. Through his healing practice, Patrick helps clients connect with their Higher Mind. By bringing unconscious, limiting beliefs into alignment with the Higher Mind's vision of wholeness and abundance, clients are able to amplify and accelerate positive life changes.

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