Discovering Spiritual Compassion

We go out and we are concerned and feel for other people’s suffering. We want to do something about it but compassion involves a certain kind of paradox.

When you respond from your human heart’s point of view to another person suffering, and your heart is open, you experience incredible pain. So then most people respond with their intellect and they pull away when they get in the presence of suffering because they can’t handle it. However, if you keep your heart open it hurts like hell, because when you start to appreciate that the “they” are “us” and not just “them,” then you can’t intellectualize it anymore, you can’t pull away.

Then there is another level of reality, where all that suffering is a route to awakening, one way or another, and you see there are no errors, and you are then faced with the paradox.

Compassion then becomes the ability to embrace both planes simultaneously, so that you have an equanimity in you that comes from allowing it to be what it is, and at the same moment allow your human heart that is wanting to do something about it, reach out to do so.

It’s the balance between those two things where the fullness of spiritual compassion arises – it’s where you don’t judge, just because the world is not understandable to you. Your human ego part of you has to get out of the way, and you’ll find that when you get that balance working, you are very effective in doing what can be done. You start realizing you can’t take away all the world’s suffering, while at the same moment, there is a way in which you see that you are a part of the machine of healing and compassion.


-Ram Dass

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