Compassion, Fearlessness, and True Love

Compassion, Fearlessness, and True Love

Discussion date: Thu, Apr 09, 2015 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

“Be Still and Heal” was the theme of our Still Water three-day Easter Weekend Retreat. In our Dharma sharings we talked about how mindfulness allows us to calm and still our bodies and minds. When our conscious mind is not filled with projects and distractions, we can more easily recognize and hold our wounds, hurts, losses, and resentments.

We also explored together how much of our emotional and spiritual healing is about becoming whole, letting go of the divisions we have created in our hearts: the inner splitting caused by wanting ourselves or our outer conditions to be different; the many ways we say hurtful or critical words to ourselves. As we heal, we become kinder to ourselves and others. We see more clearly how our actions arise out of our histories and our current conditions.

On the retreat, reading together several paragraphs by Stephen R. Schwartz, a twentieth century iconoclastic spiritual teacher, helped us see the entwined nature of healing and compassionate acceptance. Schwartz points out that compassion emerges from the body, not from thought. It is a felt understanding that regardless of the torments, hurts, losses, and confusion, “the beauty of that person remains, acknowledged and intact.” When there is compassion, our thoughts, words, and actions carry the energy of love.

Compassion and fearlessness develop together, Schwartz explains:

What is the preparation necessary for me to begin to convey the understanding of compassionate self-care along with the compassion, with love?

It doesn’t require that we reached some perfect state. It doesn’t require that we be over all of our issues and that we never suffer or never struggle.

It does require that we be fearless enough to face ourselves, our own concerns, our own hurts, our own woundedness, our own longings, over and over and over again, so that we are fearless enough to face the hurt, the wounds, and the longings of someone else.

This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will recite together the Five Mindfulness Trainings, as we do the second Thursday of each month. Our discussion will focus on the interconnection between compassion, as Schwartz presents it, and the third training on True Love.

As I see it, without compassion — a bodily felt sense of appreciation and caring for ourselves and others — there cannot be intimacy and understanding. We cannot form or maintain truly loving relationships. When compassion is developed, abuse is not likely to occur.

The text of the Third Mindfulness Training is below, and also the excerpts from Stephen Schwartz we read at our retreat.

You are invited to join us this Thursday.

You are also invited to join the Still Water community for Modeling, Not Molding — Still Water Mindful Family Retreat, Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3, 2015, at the Charter Hall Retreat Center.

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner

The Third Mindfulness Training: True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society.

Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy. I will cultivate loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness which are the four basic elements of true love for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future

Offering Compassionate Self Care

by Stephen Robbins Schwartz

Compassion is an experience that emerges from the body and it’s not an experience that emerges from thought. Compassion is an understanding that is felt… it is an incredible energetic entry into another person in which wherever they are, whatever they’ve been through, however much torment, self-imposed or otherwise, whatever the events, the confusion, the warmth, the embrace, the stroke, the beauty of that person remains, acknowledged and intact. That we, as we listen, as we share — are listening and sharing to someone for whom we deeply care. That caring is felt in the body.

The moment this work of compassionate self-care becomes an effort to prove something, to get a point across, to help somebody, even to create changes, to help them “get it”, we are in an experience in which there is pressure. And where there is pressure there is a loss of compassion.

In our work toward sharing and teaching, at any level, formal or informal, we must be aware of the pressure that exists within ourselves to make something better for someone else, or to have someone “get it”; or to induce someone to get over something, that they are seen, in our view in an incomplete or painful way. No matter what kind of sincerity or goodwill is motivating our attempts to fix somebody, or to move somebody out of their predicament, it is always doomed to end up being kind of patient/doctor, or subject/object, pressure and pressured one role. This is not compassion. So when we come to speak with one person or many people about self-care, self-respect, direct and unsentimental self-acceptance, it is necessary for us to sit with our own pressure towards fixing, to sit with our own pressure towards helping others. Rather, to wait until that pressure turns into the warmth of true understanding.

And then, the essence of compassionate self-care and a way to teach compassion itself will become clearer and clearer. This work is on a wave of “I love you”. At one level the wave of “I love you” is emerging from the one who is teaching it. But at a more profound level, more subtle level the “I love you” is passing through the one who is teaching as an offering, as a gift, as a stroke to those who have come to listen.

Without the “I love you”, without the warmth, without the body recognition, and the body expression of compassion, there is no compassionate self-care and there is no teaching it.

Compassionate self-care is a transmission of love from something that resides outside of merely human identity. It is passing through the identity via the body and is being given to others as it passes from one side to the next. There is an understanding, and there is knowledge, there is a way of relating to ourselves which can be conveyed. Unless that conveyance is occurring on a wave of compassion, we are merely passing on information and we are not passing on the truth.

What is the preparation necessary for me to begin to convey the understanding of compassionate self-care along with the compassion, with love?

It doesn’t require that we reached some perfect state. It doesn’t require that we be over all of our issues and that we never suffer or never struggle.

It does require that we be fearless enough to face ourselves, our own concerns, our own hurts, our own woundedness, our own longings, over and over and over again, so that we are fearless enough to face the hurt, the wounds, and the longings of someone else.

One of the great beauties of sharing to work with other people is that it is for the one who is teaching it, to plunge more deeply into experiences of fearlessness.

[From an interview with Stephen R. Schwartz. Information about the teachings of Stephen R. Schwartz is available on the website compassionateselfcare.com.]
in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Apr 09, 2015


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