This is my third post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.
C= Compassion: Compassion is best defined as empathetic action, where one takes steps to understand the cause of another’s suffering, and then undertake action to ease the suffering, and hopefully prevent whatever problem or issue caused the suffering from occurring again in the future. Every religion, from Jesus’ Beatitudes and teachings on charity, to Islam’s Zakāt pillar of faith, to Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, teaches that developing a compassionate character is essential for anyone wishing to live a happy and fulfilled life. The reason that every religion promotes compassion, is because it is an essential ingredient for not only your own happiness, but the happiness of others.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama
Compassion naturally develops internal and external happiness, because compassion allows you to reflect your positive values and wisdom out into the world at large in order to make the world a better place. On an internal level, compassionately helping others naturally makes us feel good and raises our level of awareness. On an external level, compassion should be used to help alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings, which naturally makes those around us and the world at large happier. Also, as those around you become happier through your compassionate acts, they will naturally reflect your acts of kindness back to you, in the same way that ripples in a pond eventually return to their source.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” ~Aristotle
I originally wrote much of this in a reply to an earlier comment from Sharon, but after thinking about this some more, I thought that it would make a good post!
Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to feel fulfilled, loved, and self confident. However, based on the large number of self-help books/ talk-shows, as well as escalating rates of depression and other mental ailments, people seem to be seeking happiness, but many aren’t finding it. This begs the question, is it possible to be truly happy? Is it possible to truly live a happy and fulfilled life?
I not only believe that it is possible to be truly happy, but I truly believe that our purpose in life is to be happy, and truly enjoy life; however, happiness takes work.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”- H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we must come at last to regard the world.” – Marcel Proust
During this past weekend I had the supreme pleasure of enjoying a four day Scottish Rite Reunion in Guthrie, Oklahoma. For those that aren’t familiar with the Scottish Rite, it is a Masonic organization that confers the 4th through the 33rd degrees of the Masonic system. The degrees of the Scottish Rite basically provide a collegiate level course on comparative religion, philosophical and moral thought, ethics, and most importantly (for me at least) inner development.
I am supremely fortunate to be a member of the Guthrie Valley, which not only boasts one of the world’s most beautiful buildings (in my opinion, and in the opinion of many who have been fortunate to visit it), but it is composed of members who truly care about not only their own spiritual path, but facilitating the spiritual paths of others. During the Reunions there are group meditation and education courses, as well as ample opportunities to spend one-on-one time with individual seekers, teachers, and facilitators from almost every spiritual tradition ranging from mainstream Christianity, Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Islam-Sufism, Neo-Paganism, etc., so it is truly a spiritual melting pot that provides a smorgasbord for the spiritual seeker. It also provides people from all spiritual backgrounds, and levels of interest or development with a platform to advance and learn from one another, which unfortunately is a very rare opportunity.
The above quote by Marcel Proust has been stuck in my head for the last month or so, and during this last weekend it really hit home; because, one of the central teachings of the Rite is that its members should actively go out in the world and practice what they have learned in order to take up the struggle against tyranny, oppression, ignorance, and human suffering of all kinds.
Too often people are merely content with “receiving” wisdom, which is passive, and merely becomes an intellectual exercise, or people are constantly searching for just the right place of worship, teacher, or practice, so they easily fall into a rut, which prevents any real progress. While I firmly believe that every spiritual tradition provides the keys (knowledge) to living a happy and fulfilled life in this realm, and in the next, we must make an effort to discover true wisdom, which can only be had by journeying down the path towards it. The journey towards wisdom not only requires learning (knowledge), but it requires real effort, and actually putting your knowledge into practice. Read more…
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
As evidenced by the above quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama one of the most important things that you can do to both improve your life and the life of others is to practice charity. Charity is important because it forces you to give something up (time, money, etc.) for the benefit of someone else, which helps you to not only become a better person, but also helps the life of someone else. The importance of practicing charity is an important aspect of many of the world’s religions, for example:
The ministry of Jesus Christ was focused on helping others not only improve themselves spiritually, but also their lives in general. The message of Jesus Christ is full of lessons involving loving one another and helping your fellow man. It is important to note that Jesus was concerned with action, not merely talking about doing good deeds, but actually DOING good deeds. Read more…