Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 8: COMPASSION
Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is COMPASSION. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.
All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD!
Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world. The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority.
Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:
O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen.
The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.
Compassion is a feeling of pity for the suffering of your neighbor coupled with a desire to relieve the suffering. I believe the spirit of compassion is in all of us only that it is more developed in some than in others. It is important that those of us who have little of it begin to think of ways to develop it fully for good reasons. Our son for instance started asking us to give something to beggars when he was about four years old. How many people have stopped to lend a helping hand when they see a vehicle that is stuck on the road? Many and sometimes these people do not even know much about automobiles. How many people have stopped to give something to a beggar? A lot of people are driven by compassion to give. Our son has also benefited from the compassion of others. Once we were in a thrift shop during the holiday season and a woman walked in and started handing out $20 bills to the children in the store. In some Eastern countries there is a tradition of giving to religious or spiritual people who have given up the normal way of life we have here. They beg for their food and the people who support them do it out of compassion and as a sense of sacred duty. In return the religious people support the community through community services and in many other ways.
The value of compassion as a way of life is in action. It is not enough to be compassionate without doing something about it. What does it solve if I saw a car stuck on the road and I simply said “Oh I’m sorry that you are stuck” but drove away without doing anything? It doesn’t take care of the suffering of the individual and meanwhile it will be slowing down traffic. What does it solve if I saw a hungry child and simply said, “I’m sad that you are hungry” and left without finding food for the child? The child is still hungry and suffering. Nothing is accomplished. What does it solve if I saw a sick person who couldn’t help herself and said, “I am unhappy that you are sick” and left without calling the ambulance? The sick person will still be sick and be suffering and could even die. There is no human touch and there is no real connection. The compassionate person takes action to relieve the suffering and hardship of another person or creature. And when we do that we expose ourselves to similar treatments according to the law of attraction.
The value of compassion in action to the compassionate person is in accumulating merits. Whatever we do to promote peace and happiness gives us merits because we are performing a sacred duty. Any encounter with a person or a creature is sacred. A sacred duty is a very important, highly valued, respectable and required act or course of action. When a beggar or someone in need asks us for alms or for help we are in a sacred time and in a sacred place. The encounter is a sacred moment and when we perform what is asked of us we are performing a sacred duty. To deserve a merit however the duty must be performed with a pure mind, that is, without the expectation of any rewards in this life or in the next life. And when we do that we expose ourselves to similar acts in this life and in the next life.
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.
1 Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama
2 Compassion is a feeling of pity for the suffering of your neighbor coupled with a desire to relieve the suffering. Dr. Sonari
3 I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights. Desmond Tutu
4 If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama
5 Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. Albert Einstein
6 The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. Albert Schweitzer
7 Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others. Helen Keller
8 Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion. Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama
9 A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. The Buddha
10 Compassion is the basis of morality. Arthur Schopenhauer
Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found.
1 The Tao is the refuge for the myriad creatures. It is that by which the good man protects,
And that by which the bad is protected. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 62
2 This world is a garden, The Lord its gardener, Cherishing all, none neglected. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh Ashtpadi, M.3, p. 118
3 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Christianity. New Testament, Matthew 5.45
4 I have no corporeal existence, but Universal Benevolence is my divine body. I have no physical power, but Uprightness is my strength. I have no religious clairvoyance beyond what is bestowed by Wisdom, I have no power of miracle other than the attainment of quiet happiness, I have no tact except the exercise of gentleness. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Sumiyoshi
5 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Judaism: Tanakh, Psalm 145.8-9
6 "All-pervading is the Great Tao! It may be found on the left hand and on the right. All things depend on it for their production, which it gives to them, not one refusing obedience to it. When its work is accomplished, it does not claim the name of having done it. It clothes all things as with a garment, and makes no assumption of being their lord. It may be named in the smallest things. All things return to their root and disappear, and do not know that it is it which presides over their doing so. It may be named in the greatest things. Hence the sage is able to accomplish his great achievements. It is through his not making himself great that he can accomplish them." Taoism: Tao Te Ching 34
7 And prescribe for us in the present benevolence and in the world to come. Truly we turned back to Thee. He said: I light My punishment on whom I will and My mercy encompassed everything. Then, I will prescribe it for those who are Godfearing and give the purifying alms and those, they who believe in Our signs, Islam: Qur’an 7:156
8 By love he knows me in truth, who I am and what I am. And when he knows me in truth he enters into my being. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 18:55
9 What is God? He/she is an existence that absolutely lives for others. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-16-88
10. He who can find no room for others lacks fellow feeling, and to him who lacks fellow feeling, all men are strangers. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 23
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?
The parable of Shibi, the Compassionate King
Once there lived a great king called Shibi. He was very kind and charitable and became very famous. His fame spread all over the earth and the heavens. The God of the heavens Indra wanted to test and see if king Shibi was really as great as his fame proclaimed him to be. So Indra and Agni, the God of fire prepared for the test. Agni assumed the form of a dove and Indra, of a fierce hawk. Agni first took off fluttering her wings as though terrified and Indra followed at a distances as if in hot pursuit. They both flew to the palace of the king. Shibi was in the garden distributing gifts to the poor. The dove came and perched upon the wrist of Shibi full of fear. Shibi immediately took her in his hands. Stroking her back kindly he said, "Fear not, O dove, I will save you from all harms." Just as he was saying this, the hawk came in fiercely and tried to snatch the dove away from the king's hands. But the king raised his hand in a flash and obstructed the hawk. The hawk looked at the king angrily and said, speaking like a human being, "You’ve got my dove. Why do you obstruct me in having my food, O king?" Surprised at hearing the hawk speak like a man, Shibi replied, "The Dove is not yours because she is under my protection”." The hawk then said, "O Compassionate King, you are renowned as a kind person. Perhaps it is your duty to protect those in distress. But is your kindness limited only to the dove? What about me? Am I not equally entitled to claim your pity? I am a bird who can live only by eating the meat of small birds. By depriving me of my food are you not condemning me to die? Is this your dharma?" King Shibi was confused and thought for a while. At last he said, "Hawk, what you say is true. I won't deprive you of your food. But at the same time I can't give up this poor frightened dove. Will you accept if I give you some other flesh as a substitute?" The hawk replied, "Very well king. I have no objection as long as my hunger is satisfied. But you must give me flesh exactly equal to that of the dove. I won't accept less." And he further mockingly added, "But where can you get another flesh? Will you kill another life to save the life of this dove?" Shibi hastily replied, "No, no, I won't think of harming another life. Instead I will give you my own flesh in the place of the dove." He then turned to his attendants asked them to bring a balance. The attendants accordingly brought the balance and erected it before the king. Shibi placed the dove on one side of the balance. He took out his sword and cutting small portions of his flesh placed it on the other side. But surprisingly the scale did not balance irrespective of the amount of his flesh he cut and put into it. He continued cutting but eventually there was no more flesh left on his bones and he decided to throw away the sword and placed himself in the balance and it balanced the weight of the dove. Rejoicing that he was at last able to give the hawk its due, Shibi turned to the hawk and said, "O hawk, my weight is equal to the weight of the dove. Please eat me and leave the dove." As he said these words there was a cheering applause from the gods who gathered in the sky to witness the test. They beat the heavenly drums and showered flowers on the king. The hawk and the dove shed their assumed forms and stood before the king in their shining glorious forms. Shibi looked at them in blank amazement. Indra said, "O kindly king, know that we are Indra and Agni come down from heaven to test you. You have indeed proved yourself to be greater than your fame. You will be blessed with long life and vast riches. Your name will remain in the world as long as the sun and the moon remain." So saying, Indra touched Shibi with his hand. Lo! All the cuts and wounds vanished from Shibi's body and he stood there as strong as ever. He bowed to the gods with great devotion, who blessed him and returned to heaven.
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study. The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.
Our closing meditation is the cultivation of compassion. Let us assume that you are low on the spiritual practice scale. In other words you have never had a moment of silence when you wake up in the morning; you have never prayed and you have never uttered any affirmation to begin your day. You may follow these steps to begin a spiritual life with the cultivation of compassion as your goal.
- Have a Daily Ritual: Begin each day with a prayer or an affirmation. Here is an example of a simple prayer: May this day be blessed for all inhabitants of the earth. May my day be blessed including my thoughts, my actions, my activities my interactions, and my hopes. You could use the opening affirmation as follows: Compassion is a feeling of pity for the suffering of others. Compassion is a desire to help to relieve the suffering of others. In this world what touches others also touches me. I help to relieve the suffering of others. In the name of LOVE, the EARTH and the UNIVERSE! Amen
- Meditate: Include meditation in your daily ritual. Re-examine your activities of the previous day. Where did you go? Who did you meet? What did you do? What could you have done? During your meditation before you go to bed reflect on your activities the next day. Where will you go? What will you do? Who will you meet? What difference will you make? Who will you help?
- Forgive yourself: In your meditation your short comings and past mistakes may come to light. Accept them and forgive yourself. This is your opportunity to develop yourself and make contributions to humanity. Your past mistakes and short comings will motivate you on the path.
- Focus on the good of others: The starting point in cultivating compassion is to focus on the good of others. This does not mean that you should forget yourself; instead it means that you put others first. For instance if you have a pet you could practice meeting the needs of the pet as you have never done before. In my practice I first feed the pet before I eat my breakfast and when I eat pet-friendly food I first give some to the pet before I begin to eat and I also give the pet my last bite. You may follow that up with a family member, a friend and finally a stranger in that order. The practice enables me to cultivate the art of giving.
- Practice unity consciousness: Meditate daily on the thought that we are all one irrespective of our differences. In your meditation examine our similarities as creatures of this planet and realize the fact that we are really here to take care of each other.
- Volunteer your Time: First determine what is important to you. Is it feeding the hungry? Housing the homeless? Rehabilitating the abused or the drug addicts? Choose what is important to you and volunteer your time to help the afflicted.
- Help someone in Need: During your volunteering times find out about someone that you could personally help. Your help could be any of several approaches. It could be that the person just wants you to be there, to listen or to do something to ease the person’s suffering.
You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer. You may use the sample prayer if needed.
A Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)
Teach us, good LORD, to serve THEE as THOU deservest; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do THY will. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen
You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened Living tips for the benefit of the group.
Addendum: The Parable of the Good Samaritan Christianity: New Testament, Luke 10:30-35
Once upon a time a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.
There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.
1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods and doing drugs?
1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?
1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?
1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?
1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?
1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?
1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?
1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?
1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?
1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?
1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?