For the People of Afghanistan and Those Still There Helping

Compassion is a little selfish, because more often than not it helps the practitioner more than the sufferer. That’s ok though, even when the subjects of suffering are experiencing darkness in life unimaginable to most. It’s ok because compassion is about recognizing that relieving suffering as work, serious business, as something more important than opinions, commentary, or analyses. So by responding to a global crisis by simply sitting and feeling compassion for the sufferers means you’re letting those who do the work of relieving suffering take center stage, with you in the background recognizing their suffering too.

I practice compassion for the people of Afghanistan and Those Still There Helping
With compassion, I free them from suffering
With compassion, I help them find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in their lives
With compassion, I inspire them to flourish

With patience and good humor, I welcome the imperfections of the people of Afghanistan and those still there helping
With sympathy, I feel for their suffering
With empathy, I mind what their feeling and try to understand why

For the people of Afghanistan and those still there helping, I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective of them
I foster gratefulness for them
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of their lives

Peace, love and hope to those suffering in the eye of this global-political-storm, and thank you to those who have practiced with me.

For that Presence that I Feel

You may have noticed a little trick I use in line six to get around having to use the possessive form of the noun for the recipient of compassion. When the noun is a long compound noun, the possessive form is a bit clunky and awkward. That’s certainly the case for that presence that I feel, and since I use no pronouns for this practice, there are even more lines where I have to get around using the possessive. If this is starting to sound more like an English lesson than a compassion lesson, know that by challenging are minds to reconsider and rewrite the particulars of the lines, we can keep their inherent meaning and feelings alive.

I practice compassion for the presence that I feel

With compassion, I free that presence from suffering
With compassion, I help that presence find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in the place where I connect with that presence
With compassion, I inspire that presence to flourish

With patience and good humour, I welcome the imperfections of that presence that I feel
With sympathy, I feel for the suffering felt in the place where I connect with that presence
With empathy, I mind what that presence is feeling and try to understand why

For that presence that I feel, I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective
I foster gratefulness
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of what’s felt in the place where I connect with that presence that I feel

This one is really wordy, so it’s not likely I would ever use it in a time when I need the practice for emotional support, or when I need a well memorized practice for quick recall. This practice is more for a busy mind that needs complexity. It gives it something to do while at the same refocusing the mind to the rather uncomplicated mission of relieving suffering, indiscriminately, wherever possible. Thank you for exploring this practice with me😄

Photo by Shiyu Zhang

For Rob

I want to demo how pronouns work in this practice, because there is a design. Line one, five, and nine always use the actual noun representing the recipient of compassion, and the rest of the lines use pronouns where needed. This design is based on my own sense of rhythm in the lines, calibrated to what feels comfortable. For the practice presented yesterday, for that presence that I feel, I experimented with he, her, it, and bouncing around the three, but, for reasons that will be better explained later, I decided no pronoun system worked with what I was trying to do. Before returning to that practice, I’ll demo a practice for my brother Rob, to give a good demo of pronoun use in a regular practice:

I practice compassion for Rob

With compassion, I free him from suffering
With compassion, I help him find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in his life
With compassion, I inspire him to flourish

With patience and good humour, I welcome Rob’s imperfections
With sympathy, I feel for his suffering
With empathy, I mind what he’s feeling and try to understand why

For Rob, I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective of him
I foster gratefulness for him
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of his life

Thank you for practicing with me today. Try doing the same exercise, but for someone in your life😄

Photo by Shiyu Zhang