This post (originally published February 3, 2009 and updated November 20, 2018) will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people will be uncomfortable, some people will be shocked and in denial, some people will be angry.
Is Compassion Ever Not A Good Thing?
For the sake of all sentient beings, the topic of compassion needs to be brought to the table and discussed openly and honestly. Is there such a thing as too much compassion? When is compassion not a good thing?
Here’s there definition of compassion from my online dictionary:
compassion |k?m?pa sh ?n|
sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others : the victims should be treated with compassion. See note at mercy.
ORIGIN Middle English : via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin compassio(n-), from compati ‘suffer with.’
I can’t help but notice that the words victims and compassion are used in the same sentence above.
Growing up, I learned the term “bleeding-heart compassion.” Most of us are taught compassion from an early age. We are taught compassion is a good quality to have, to display, to use. Sometimes we are taught when we are compassionate, we consider the sufferings of others as our own – or at least I was taught that.
My suffering is not another creature’s, another creature’s suffering is not mine.
When I take on another’s suffering as my own, I am diluting and dissipating the strengths, talents and abilities I have that can help. When, “out of compassion”, I allow my strengths and abilities to be weakened, I am no help to the creature, and I am certainly no help to myself. I am even crippling myself, which is of no good to anyone.
Have there been times when you have expressed compassion with someone, animal or human, leaving you past exhausted and the situation was no better or possibly even worse? That exhaustion is a symptom you either gave your energy away or you allowed it to be taken form you.
It is not possible to give enough of yourself away to make someone else better.
So What Is Fierce Compassion?
Let’s start by what it is not. Fierce compassion is not mild, yielding or enabling, nor is it a display of sentimentality. It does not mean bypassing our responsibility to other sentient beings through the delusional thinking of ‘thoughts and prayers’.
Fierce compassion is a tool for transformation that is both active and courageous as well as strong and challenging. It is a component of right relationship, where we recognize we are all connected, and that connected is based on reciprocal, respectful relationship.
It is at times a giving up of time, comfort and privilege so others don’t suffer needlessly.
Fierce compassion requires we set up boundaries and uphold those boundaries, holding ourselves and others accountable to them.
Whether we’re connecting with animals and other sentient beings intuitively or working with them in real life, it is essential we keep ourselves clean, clear and free of anything that stands between us and being in right relationship with them. That means we need to be sagacious enough to keep our energy as our own own, and not allow it to leak out or be siphoned off. We cannot afford to have “bleeding heart compassion” if our goal is to help and to be effective in that help.
While at first this might seem awkward, learn to think of compassion in terms of “fierce compassion.” Learn to come from a place of action and stamina instead of bypass and fragility.
I look forward to hearing your comments on this!
Here’s To New Beginnings