What is true compassion?

Via on Mar 23, 2011

Compassion is not a frame of mind. It is an action.

Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the “present.” -Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda

We like to think of our lives as existing along a continuous time-line. This is a misunderstanding. In reality, your life exists moment to moment. Each moment you die. Each moment you are reborn.

Sure you can think about the past and maybe have some regrets at all the things you have screwed up and believe me, we have all screwed up!

And yes, you can worry about the future. Which ain’t a bad thing when you are planning for retirement.

But no matter how much you think about the past and the future, you never actually have the past and the future. The past is gone and the future is nowhere.

Really, the only time you are ever going to be able to help anyone is at this moment. No amount of shame or guilt will help you or anyone else at this moment. Your entire life is right there, at this moment. So just do it! Someone shows up who needs help, just help them.

Of course this might mean that you help them as a computer geek, an artist, a yogi or a librarian. At this moment, help.

That is true compassion.

About Blake Wilson

Blake is a law librarian and a member of the Kwan Um School of Zen, sitting with the Kansas Zen Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Blake is way into g33k culture which, as he sees it, easily includes Zen, and is willing to share with you his struggles and observations. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and kansaszencenter.org.

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8 Responses to “What is true compassion?”

  1. SriDTMc says:

    great thought for the day! shared by @walkthetalkshow on Twitter

  2. Love this little prose poem. In fact, you could reformat it as a poem if you wanted to. It would be powerful that way, too.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

    • Blake Wilson Blake says:

      Thanks! Not much of a poet but I could always give it a shot!

      • Oh, but you are and just don't realize it. The words are all there already. Don't change them at all.

        Just play around with line breaks and paragraphing in a way that invites slow reading and savoring individual phrases. Nothing fancy, just a creative rearrangement to bring out the text more.

        The prose is great just the way it is, by the way. But people instinctively read a poem slowly line by line, whereas they tend to rush through and scan prose.

        Just try it and see if you like it. I think you'll be surprised.

        Bob

  3. Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the “present.” -Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda

    We like to think of our lives
    as existing along a continuous time-line.
    This is a misunderstanding.

    In reality,
    your life exists moment to moment.
    Each moment you die.
    Each moment you are reborn.

    Sure you can think about the past
    and maybe have some regrets
    at all the things you have screwed up
    and believe me,
    we have all screwed up!

    And yes, you can worry about the future.
    Which ain’t a bad thing
    when you are planning for retirement.

    But no matter how much you think
    about the past and the future,
    you never actually have the past
    and the future.

    The past is gone
    and the future is nowhere.

    Really, the only time
    you are ever going to be able to help anyone
    is at this moment.

    No amount of shame or guilt
    will help you or anyone else
    at this moment.

    Your entire life is right there,
    at this moment.
    So just do it!

    Someone shows up who needs help,
    just help them.

    Of course this might mean
    that you help them as a computer geek,
    an artist, a yogi or a librarian.

    At this moment, help.

    That is true compassion.

  4. I suggest you submit this poem to The Poetry of Yoga. See the link at Poetry, Yoga and Inner City Youth: An Interview with HawaH..

  5. [...] all this compassion for the pain of others, when in reality, we don’t. At least not in the true sense of the word. Not having compassion for ourselves is a way of avoiding our own pain. It is also [...]

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