Napa Valley Insight Meditation Message Board › Kathy Cheney: Auguest 5th NVMG meeting
This Tuesday (August 5th), our resident teacher Kathy Cheney will be lead our mediation and give a dharma talk following tea time. Over the past couple of months, Kathy has been providing us instruction on the noble eightfold path and how we can apply these principles in our life.
Kathy has been practicing meditation since 2000 and has sat residential retreats at Spirit Rock and Gaia House in Devon, England. Her primary teacher is Gil Fronsdal. She practices in both the Vipassana and Zen traditions, and volunteers at San Francisco County Jail teaching meditation to women.
Thoughts on Compassion
In his book "Compassion: The Ultimate Flowering of Love," the Indian Mystic Osho states that many so-called acts of compassion are tainted by a subtle sense of self-importance and desire for recognition. Others are based on the desire not really to help another, but to force them to change in some desired way. Osho believes this is not compassion. To him the path to authentic compassion arises from within, beginning with a deep acceptance and love of oneself. Only then can compassion flower into a healing force that can benefit human kind.
From a Buddhist perspective, caring for others not only feels good, it is the innate wisdom within us that has the capacity to change the world for the better. Compassion arises as our heart meets the suffering of others and responds. The capacity to care about others and about all life is the essence of a compassionate heart and the doorway to our own liberation.
True compassion is equally rooted in a deep love for oneself and others. It doesn’t mean rescuing everyone we see from suffering – that would be impossible. It means doing what we can, while also honoring our own limits. This is different than codependency, which is often confuse with compassion. Codependent individuals put the feelings of others before themselves, setting aside their own needs in order to serve someone else. Compassionate people possess the ability to empathize and sympathize with the suffering of others while taking responsibility for their own needs.
Wise compassion comes from leaning to let go of the outcome of our good works. Whether we give money to a stranger on the streets, volunteer to teach in the prisons, help clean up the environment, or support our partners, we strive to give our help and care freely with no strings attached. As we deepen our compassion practice we learn to accept that we can’t accomplish everything that needs to be done, and to take joy in the fact that we have done the best we can. This concept is beautifully captured in the serenity prayer that has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve stet programs:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Once we have done what we can to help, we let go, accepting the fact that we don’t really have control over what happens. The more we can give to others freely, the more our compassionate heart grows, and the greater the abundance of love in the world.