Editor’s note: ‘Spiritual leaders answer’ is a weekly column inviting Kaua‘i’s religious and spiritual leaders to share their doctrine’s perspective on a suggested subject. Today’s column is the last of the series. ‘The Garden Island Newspaper’ extends a big mahalo to our contributors and readers of ‘Spiritual leaders answer.’
Rev. James Fung
Lihu‘e Christian Church
We’re all familiar with the story, told by Jesus, known as “The Good Samaritan.” The Jews and the Samaritans were historical enemies. Their disdain for each other was fueled down through the generations with exaggeration of each other’s respective evils. And so mutual hate ran deep with little opportunity for bridging the ethnic divide due, in part, to strict rules of absolute separation.
However, the human heart has within it a marvelous capacity to shed tears of compassion — even when we see a so-called enemy is distress. Maybe it’s because God made us in such a way that we naturally can feel another person’s pain; we can sense another person’s sorrow; we can be moved by the tears of one who’s heart has been broken by a deep loss.
In the story that Jesus tells, the Samaritan sees, along the road, a Jew that has been mugged by villains. The community where the Samaritan comes from has labeled the race of the injured man as human trash. But compassion overwhelms the traveler. He administers life-saving first aid, brings him help and checks up later to makes sure that he’s going to be okay.
It is one thing to feel compassion for those we love. But to feel compassion for a stranger and to act upon it with loving behavior — that’s says something about the wonderful instincts that God placed within the human heart when God designed us. It’s a quality that speaks powerfully for the hope of humankind that peace on earth good will to all is not merely a sentiment. It’s a real possibility!
Lama Tashi Dundrup
Kaua‘i Dharma Center
Purpose. The purpose of all spiritual practice is to develop, in this human condition, four qualities: Unconditional love, altruistic compassion, insight or wisdom and emotional stability or equanimity. The four thoughts that inspire us to do this are: 1. That we have a valuable human birth and that we should make it precious by benefiting others and our environment.
2. We have karmic inclinations of mind, body and speech. We should strive to make them always positive and loving.
3. We are impermanent in this body, as is everything. We should prepare for the eventuality of aging, sickness, death, and our next life.
4. We all suffer from having a form with sensual perceptions, thinking, emotional responses and habitual inclination to dramatize everything. This causes one physical, mental and emotional pain. Each day we start our spiritual practice by contemplating the four thoughts as the purpose to do our spiritual practice in order to evolve into a a perfect human being. This is best thought of as like a mother’s involvement with her only child. All beings are our mothers. Ah women!
P.S. — We invite any one who might be interested or curious of our tradition to come to Lama Tashi’s Monday and Wednesday night classes in Kapa‘a, which is 7 to 9 p.m. weekly. Contact for directions 652-0551.
Science of Mind Practitioner
Compassion is our gift of love and understanding for both ourselves and another. We are so quick to judge. That person who jumps ahead of us in line may be one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. That child who trips us by running in front of us may have been scolded and directed to catch something for his parents right away. The new neighbors who put up a fence between you and them may be unable to express to you that they need their privacy — you don’t know that they are newlyweds. A person who tailgates or cuts ahead of us in traffic on our small island is often judged. We don’t realize his driving was learned defensively on mainland highways. Even aloha driving of “letting one in” is unheard of in big cities where speed and time is the objective.
The person who complains and yells at you has not learned how to talk “with” you about things you do that bother him. Anger is a form of fear to control things. This person has trouble trusting others. Vicious as they seem, they simply need love and compassion which they have lacked in life. A prayer with compassion, love and understanding would give “light” to their day.
Compassion/understanding is to be learned over and over again and judgment is often the teacher. When I express judgment toward another, my dear husband reminds me, “You don’t know where that person has been or why they are acting like that. They are doing the best that they can at the moment.”
This doesn’t mean that they are right in their actions, but it is cause to slow down and quietly bless them for their fears and understandings. If words need be expressed to protect one’s own self, say them quietly with patience “knowing” that they hear you within.
There is a part of everyone that truly hears the right and the good.
Being on an island of several different races and cultures, we are given all kinds of opportunities to express our compassion. Tending to blame or judge another just because of their race is a part of our “race” thinking. We’ve forgotten that we are all God’s children. We are all human and given the gifts of potential compassion and love. There are no exceptions. Remembering this as I pass through a cashier’s line at a local store and receive some rudeness from the cashier, I’m learning to bless this person with compassion. I don’t know what makes them unhappy, or what they may have experienced before coming to work or even what they’ve experienced from another of my race. Judgment on my part doesn’t help, but compassion, a silent blessing, and a loving smile does. Judgment is fear, compassion is love.
1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: Because fear has torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Emmet Fox in “Around the Year with Emmet Fox” states: “It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake (or misunderstanding); a sufficient realization of love (and compassion) will dissolve it all.”
Unity’s prayer: “Love is stronger than fear, and I am filled with the love of God. I trust this extraordinary love to see me through any troubling situation. I am fearless and strong because I am one with God. If I feel doubt or apprehension, I take a deep breath and turn within to examine my thoughts. My strength and courage grow as I deny fear-based thoughts their power. Love increases as fear diminishes.”
Pastor Wayne Patton
Anahola Baptist Church
Compassion is an attitude toward a need that is compelled to take action to meet that need. A compassionate heart finds it impossible to remain neutral when it sees a need of any kind. Jesus Christ is our example of showing compassion toward others.
The apostle Paul reminds us that because of God’s compassion “we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). Paul knew that the life he had been given was an act of compassion. It was also a ministry of compassion. When a life is surrounded by and bathed in compassion, it can never get too discouraging. Such a life is based on the tender side of God. Whenever trouble looms large, grace looms larger.
We need to demonstrate to others and ourselves the compassion that God demonstrated in Christ. The more we cultivate an attitude of compassion — toward everyone and about everything, inasmuch as our compassion accurately reflects God’s — the more we will be encouraged. It is like bathing in a soothing, restoring balm. The compassion of God is the foundation of our entire lives.
Baha’is of Kaua‘i
Compassion means to share the suffering of others. It includes the desire to reduce that suffering which generally leads to some form of action to alleviate the pain and distress.
Every revealed religion of God has as a basic tenet a standard of compassion. Many of us know it as the golden rule. In the Baha’i Faith it is stated as, “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.” In other texts this mercy and compassion is extended to include all living things.
Compassion is a virtue that should be developed from early childhood. Children naturally only consider their own feelings and want immediate gratification. But a child can be encouraged to consider another’s view point when asked, “How do you think he feels when you do that? What can you do to help him feel better?”
From an early age children can be encouraged to expand their compassion to include those they do not know. Trick or treating for UNICEF is one way children can become aware of the needs of other children and to make a contribution through their own efforts. Another admirable practice is to encourage children to divide their allowance or any gift of cash into three segments. One-third can be spent as desired, one-third should be saved and one-third should be donated to help others. By allowing children to make these choices within guidelines, they not only learn compassion and empathy but also learn sound financial habits. Each night they should recount the events of the day. Who did they meet? Did they treat each other with compassion? How could it have been better? What should be the goal for the next day?
Though virtues are best introduced and developed from an early age, these exercises could also benefit us as adults. A mature person could expand his compassion to include those who mistreated him. What happened to that person earlier in his life, in his day, and to understand that their action was not about you, but about what they were going through.
The following quotes from the Baha’i writings speak to compassion and the importance of teaching virtues in early childhood: “Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man.
“So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect.
“In thy school, instruct thou God’s children in the customs of the Kingdom. Be thou a teacher of love, in a school of unity. Train thou the children of the friends of the Merciful in the rules and ways of His loving-kindness.”