A while back, I shed a huge bit of my automatic personality. It literally felt like I was wearing a skirt that simply fell to the floor. When I say literally, I mean that. Something fell. The only odd thing was that I was sitting down. Don't blame me, that is the way it happened. The emotional impact was of feeling G-d's grace. The problem I will always have with your average, and maybe non-average, Christian is the line about how no one deserves G-d's grace. If you've ever felt that, you KNOW everyone deserves it. There are few people I really hate, so few there is only one, that said, even that person deserves it. I would put in a bottle and give it to that person if I could.
There was a deeper impact. Every misdemeanor I ever committed fell away too. Those things in the back of your head that you are aware of and feel guilty for? Gone. Surprisingly, I KNOW I dropped guilt for things that I had no memory of at all. No, I cannot explain that either.
From that moment, my reactions to things have been changing. I haven't been frustrated at work, a long blogged about problem, since before Yule. Things people do that made me feel bad and I previously accepted are no longer tolerated. I no longer consider myself a Holy Idiot. Well, not the idiot part anyway. I speak to complete strangers with joy and laughter. I never did that before.
I've also been more compassionate in many areas of life, spoken more about compassion and began to read Buddhist books. The books I am reading focus primarily on praxis rather than directly about compassion. Obviously, one cannot force compassion into existence, it must grow.
I have noticed that I have had a very narrow definition of compassion that involves helping people. For instance, yesterday, I stood in a line for lunch as an older woman was shepherding a group of developmentally disabled people through. She was teaching them, probably for the 1,000th time, how to order, deal with money, what to eat, sitting in the chair properly etc. Obviously, she was getting a bit frustrated and terse.
I did the Manifestation Meditation and asked my Greater Neschemah to give her patience both for herself and those she was caring for. The moment I felt that energy land on her she turned 180 degrees looked me right in the eye and said, "Thank you for your patience." She told the clerk it was because I stood their waiting quietly while she did what she needed to do. I knew what she was thanking me for even though she didn't. She and her charges seemed much better after that.
This sort of helping the beleaguered is often viewed as compassion. However, think of it from the other end. Most people want to be helpful. Most people want in some way to make someone else's life better. We find it pleasurable to help. Yet, we have become so self-focused that we say, "No, I can take care of myself." Perhaps that is true. Yet, other people have the need to be of assistance. Compassion says that if it is not to your detriment, allow them to do so. Acknowledge their need to assist the world. Feed that need. It brings them joy and that joy is contagious. Let people help you. It is a compassionate thing to do.