In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera describes compassion as a kind of “emotional telepathy.” A state in which we receive the completeness of someone else’s experience without the static of our own sticky ego getting in the way. We simply tune in. We get what it feels like to live inside the world as they do.
This idea is scary to the intellect. Scary like a swarm of bees or promised lightning strike to the head. The ego likes the way it sees the world just fine. It likes the box it made. It says to the heart: we can’t bear to experience suffering like that! Feel sympathy if you must, but do not connect beyond our capacity.
Suffering. The human experience. Tattooed indelibly into the Four Noble Truths. We live, we suffer. The mundane manifests a pervasive sensation of dissatisfaction, in varying degrees. We prefer to avoid it when we can. Or we get a little too comfy with our own brand.
The truth about compassion is that it’s a clear experience. If we tune in with a clear heart, we can bear anything that comes through the wires. Shutting off the connection is actually more work than allowing it to flow. (It’s arduous to hold back the world!) We just tend to have more practice keeping a hold on it than we do with the letting go and letting in.
If the idea of compassion scares you, then most likely the person in your world who needs it most is you. And the person you need it FROM the most is also you.
The compassionate view from within: opening the conduit of your own story to see its wholeness and truth. Judgment-free and free to be as you are.
Compassion is not gluey sympathy. It is light. Airy, liberated, brave and steady. It vibrates at the frequency of love. Inwardly, it is the ticket to genuine self-esteem. Outwardly, it is a belonging that empowers.
And enlivens. And sometimes laughs and jumps for joy.
Technically, the term means with passion - most commonly translated as suffering. But compassion, in my view, is much larger than this. It’s a state of wise poignancy - something keenly felt - being *moved* by experience at a deep, penetrating level.
And it includes celebration. It includes shouting from the rooftops. It includes transcendence, fireworks, the great parties of sunlight and birthdays and breakthrough achievements. It’s a blast.
If we close the circuit of compassion because we fear the experience of suffering, then we also shut down our reception of delight. By the same token, if we can open to someone else’s moment of exhilaration then we cannot deny we have the wiring in place for full, courageous emotional telepathy. It’s just a matter saying yes to life.
Activate what you’ve got. Open the wires. Release the stress of holding truth at bay. Cry and thrive and groan and giggle with the world.
Be well. Be you.