Sympathy is generated from fear, compassion from love.
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How often do we hear a terrible story of someone who has experienced a difficult situation or loss? We imagine we understand how the individual feels, and often can share a portion of their pain. It stirs emotions deep within us and we are sympathetic.
In sympathy, we share in the troubled individual’s emotions. We feel badly for and with them. We view their difficulties as something ‘bad’ that has occurred to them. We place a value judgment on their experience and wish, for them, that it had not occurred. We see them as someone, separate from us, who has experienced something terrible. We see them as a victim of circumstance.
We also may imagine what it would feel like if the ‘bad’ thing happened to us. We may ponder what we might feel and do. We may be afraid of what our lives would be like, should the difficult situation happen to us.
All of these reactions, on our part, are based on viewing the other’s difficult experience from the viewpoint of separation consciousness, which is based in fear. We evaluate that the situation is harmful to the other person, which blocks us from understanding that all life experiences are a gift from the divine, generated for our benefit by our sharing within.
Every difficult experience holds a message and an opportunity. When we view another as a victim, we believe their suffering is meaningless. Sympathy allows us to feel for and with another, in their difficulty, but prevents us from acknowledging that there is a deeper meaning and potential benefit in their situation. Sympathy has us view the troubled individual and ourselves as limited.
In compassion, we share in the difficult experience from the standpoint of connection consciousness. From an understanding of our connection with all other beings and things, we are willing to share in the pain of a difficult situation. But we do so with the understanding that there is meaning in the pain, as well as hope for change and improvement.
We place our trust in the divinely inspired nature of existence, and we can imagine that good things will arise out of the difficulty. We have faith in the ability of the troubled individual to heal and grow. Our belief that they can weather the difficult situation and prosper will help them to do so. We extend them the gift of divine love, by seeing them as interconnected with us in the sharing. We see them as a divine being, and we wish them well.
Let’s try an exercise that will help us experience the distinction between sympathy and compassion. We’ll start by thinking of a recent terrible event that we heard of, one that happened to someone living far away from us. Perhaps we read the story of an earthquake victim in another country. We’ll catalog all of our emotions regarding the event and the person. For a minute, we’ll let ourselves feel the fear, anguish and pain of the situation fully.
Now, we will take a minute to visualize golden light in our heart center, where the divinity within us, our sharing within, resides. We’ll see the light growing brighter with each inhalation and spreading through and around us with each exhalation. When we feel a sense of calm and assurance, we’ll know that we’re in conscious connection with our sharing within.
We’ll ask our sharing within for a new perspective on the terrible situation, and we’ll note our emotions and thoughts. Likely, we will find the situation seems less emotionally charged—not less difficult—just less emotionally charged. We will see the troubled individual as a fellow member of the sharing, one who is fully capable of coming out of a difficult situation better and stronger.
Now we’ll visualize the golden light beaming from our heart to the other person. We’ll intend that the light will give them clarity, strength, and confidence, as well as the ability to sense the loving support the sharing offers them. We’ll beam divine love at them and the situation. We’ll trust that in this present moment, the sharing is caring for them and giving them exactly what they need.
Our gift of compassionate love to the troubled individual is the most important thing we can do for them. By acknowledging their divine nature, we help them to see it within themselves and heal.
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Divinely unique and beautiful reader, when have you been the recipient of divine compassion from another person? Please share…