Thoughts: Compassion is spiritually superior to love and forgiveness

spiritual fiction compassion love buddhism christianity metaphysical new age novels

The Eastern principle of compassion is spiritually more mature than the Western principles of love and forgiveness in terms of social interaction. In short, in order to love and forgive you must believe that you and I are separate and that I can judge you. For example, I feel superior to you because I love and forgive you whether you deserve it or not. In Buddhism, however, there is no place for judgment. In order to feel compassion, you must recognize that there is no separation between you and the person you are interacting with, which requires a higher level of spiritual maturity.

Love and forgiveness beget judgment

Many people say that the primary (and some say, only) rule of Christianity is Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31–“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” which includes love and forgiveness. The two cannot be separated. In order to love unconditionally, you also must forgive unconditionally. However, forgiveness requires separation, which opens the door to judgment: God says I must love and forgive you–even you haven’t earned it–so I can become a better person. You bestow your love and forgiveness upon others as if it were a gift, and in return you feel superior. For spiritually immature individuals, then, forgiveness legitimizes judgment and feeds the ego’s desire to feel righteous and superior.

The emotions of separation and judgment are present when a parent teaches a child to love and forgive. Children learn to act as if they love and forgive, and their reward is parental approval and a sense of superiority. This relationship of the Father to his children is key in Christianity.

Compassion, however, is what the parent feels for the child. As a parent, of course you love and forgive your child. That is never in question. Your children are part of you, and you are part of them. A well-adjusted parent cannot not feel love and forgiveness, no matter what the child does.

Mature spiritual growth, then, means to evolve beyond God-as-Father and be the Father/parent–“be as God” (Genesis 3:5). Spiritually evolved individuals are able to experience compassion, for they recognize we are all connected. We are all part of each other, the world, and the universe, as the parent and child are part of each other. Therefore there is no need to give love and forgiveness, because those emotions are implicit when all things are connected.

Buddhism embodies compassion

A more profound spiritual growth is required to practice compassion. In Tibetan Buddhism, compassion is defined as wanting others to be free from suffering; the Latin word for “compassion” means “co-suffering” (Wikipedia). To be compassionate, you must feel empathy and recognize that there is no separation between you and the person you are interacting with. Everyone is on the same long journey of self-discovery; we all have made the same mistakes, and we all are doing the best that we can at this time.

Of course, the world is full of many spiritually evolved Christians (and atheists, and Muslims and so on), and they interact at the level of compassion.

How to live in compassion

When you meet someone and become frustrated or angered, you remember that, not only does a deep connection bind you both in the way a parent is bonded with a child, but you also understand, at the deepest level in your being, that you are that other person: At some point in the infinite universe, you have shared the same breath, the same physical space, the same atoms. And at some point in your infinite lifetimes, you have been that person: the zealot warrior, abusive husband, conniving merchant. You comprehend that you truly are that person (although not in this time or space) and you do not judge that person or see them as separate from yourself.

You understand what drives people at the core of their being, and you remember that you have experienced those motivations as well. You empathize deeply with them and feel overwhelming compassion–the same compassion you feel when you witness your children learn a difficult lesson.

Compassion sometimes means not interfering

You may wish you could lessen another person’s suffering. But you know you cannot, the same way you know you cannot take away the pain of your child’s first love, or rejection, or failure. You know they must experience those emotions and resolve the conflict themselves in order to learn. And all you can do is empathize with them, understand their missteps, and love them with all your being.

But you also experience their successes and their joys. As such, every interaction with every living thing is filled with pain and suffering but also with love, triumph, appreciation. And you focus on the good, and recognize that often the best way to help is to not interfere in their journey.

A note from PJ: This is the first time I’ve ventured into expressing my own openions. Am I off base? I’d love some feedback on this notion. Thanks, all.

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts: Compassion is spiritually superior to love and forgiveness

  1. Hmmm, “spiritually more mature” isn’t this a judgment in the first sentence? It could be said that spiritually more mature is simply respecting what others believe or how they go about their journey. All that really matters is accomplishing what we’re for. Are we not all here to learn all those virtues such as compassion and forgiveness to become love? Not just give it and receive it but BE IT. How can we grow without the sense of being separate, isn’t that one of the purposes of this reality of duality we cling on to? After taking life times for me to learn forgiveness, I must say it’s not about judging others or even forgiving others, it’s about what it does for you inside. It’s about letting go of that emotion inside that is preventing you from moving on. It’s about forgiving yourself for what you have created and needed to begin with.

    Your new friend,
    Rob C.

    • What great points, Rob. I really appreciate you helping me clarify my own thought processes. You’re right; a preferred religion (or lack thereof) doesn’t matter as long as it leads to spiritual growth for the individual. Thank you.

  2. I liked the way you expressed yourself. We grow spiritually as we make a choice to do so, and I don’t think that means you were taking a judgmental stance, since you are openly a Seeker. I believe organized religion does make it easy to “hide”, and especially Christianity seems to make people feel superior, if the person uses their faith or just a mindless list of scriptures they never thought much about to make others feel less spiritual. Hubpages has some of the worst offenders, since many there feel that just because they profess a belief Jesus was God’s son and died for their sins (which I question) it saves them from Hell, from trying to be a better person, and makes them the judge and jury. Not all Christians, but man. I’ve had to sit on my hands a few times to not respond to many on that site who preach to others. There are similar words in Buddhism and Hinduism that are the same as “We reap what we sow.” Just because you can memorize a few scriptures and remain ignorant of any other religion–or no religion–that does not make you Spiritual or a better person. It takes time to get into that mind set where we are all one and not separate, I luckily have a son who is often reading the same stuff as me and we have long talks. And you read a lot of very thought provoking material, I often check to see what you are reading. I read light suspense and crime fiction for fun and some book reviews for online sites, but you know it’s the metaphysical stuff I love. Good job!

    • Nice review. However it’s sending me a message about how we all have work to do in regards to judgement. Her remarks about Christians is drowning in judgement wouldn’t you say? I happen to believe in the metaphysical message of Christianity. By the way, isn’t your website all about judging? At times like this I find it helpful to go back and redefine it, basically start over. Like what exactly is judgement and is it all necessarily something to avoid? Couldn’t you say that forgiving someone is a compassionate action and is letting go of judgement? We’ve got a lot to talk about here! What’s your definition of judgment?

      Rob

      Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

      Ficti

      • So many good thoughts, Rob! And you’re right, as humans we can barely open our mouths without saying something judgmental. Even saying something as simple as “the sky is blue” requires a judgment that others may disagree with. I think the key to my argument, which I didn’t express very well, is based on two components: reaction and intent. Let’s use a simple public interaction as an example event.

        A person bumps into you on a crowded sidewalk, and you drop a pile of loose papers. How to you react?

      • Do you get upset first, calm down as they apologize profusely, and then forgive the person because it was an accident?
      • Do you calmly accept that accidents happen, pick up your papers as they apologize profusely, and then inquire how their day is going without irony?
      • In scenario 1, you immediately judge it to be a negative event, and then change your mind and view it as neutral because it was an accident. However, the event was just an event. It happened. Things happen. It was your judgment, the story you created about the event, that made it a negative, and that injury was done to you. That negative judgment then allowed you the small thrill of self-congratulation as you overcame your righteous indignation and forgave them. However, their intent was not to injure, so what was there to forgive?

        In scenario 2, you recognize that all events are neutral and that their intent was neutral, and you allow your reaction–your story of about the event–to remain neutral. Your interaction becomes a simple exchange of pleasantries, and perhaps you feel compassion as you learn that the person had just left their doctor’s office after having learned they have a serious illness.

        I don’t mean to offend anyone by using loaded terms such as Christianity and Buddhism. A Christian person could have the same neutral reaction as scenario 2. However, each religion’s dogma focuses on a different aspect of the two scenarios: forgiveness (which requires you to first evaluate the event as negative before you can react appropriately and forgive them) and compassion (which requires you to see the other person’s point of view and evaluate their intent).

        Make sense? Feel free to argue, Rob – I’m not saying I have a corner on the truth, here. And you’re right, my site is all about judgment. But please consider the aspect of intent: I judge with the intention of helping people find good metaphysical fiction. But you’re right–it still requires judgment.

      • Hi PJ,

        I need to pause here. I’m just noy into comparing different religions. There is no doubt in my mind that these religions were created or twisted to keep the populace from finding spiritual wholeness. That’s why they are taught such foodlessness. So to discuss judgment, forgiveness and compassion in terms of religion has nothing to gain for me inside. It’s their dogma, they came swim it it. We can grow together without it.

        Let’s try something else with these two scenarios you presented. I’ve been that person being bumped into many times and know a lot about the reason why I reacted the way I did. For keeping it simple, let’s say that there was two different Rob’s. The one before his mid-life crisis and the one after his mid-life crisis. In my case, the reaction was not due to any of the virtues mentioned above. I know this to be true because I didn’t work on any of those things to change my reaction. It was all about the pain and anger that was built up inside of me. There is only way I know of to get rid of unresolved pain and unfortunately it doesn’t fit into what a guy should be according to our so-called civilized society. No one teaches us this kind of stuff. Can you imagine how few violent crimes there would be if everyone was free of unresolved pain? Learning how to feel again was the first step and from there it was just letting the tears flow. This process kind of fell into my lap, that’s how things happen when you’re on that spiritual path. I made this cd with five songs that touched me deeply emotionally. Everyday I sat down at my desk with my head face down on my arms and listened to those five songs twice. Once the tears started, they just wouldn’t stop. This continued for four months straight until the tears stopped. From that point forward, I was in your second scenario. You see, religion preaches to look outside yourself for the answers when you need to look inside. It’s what is inside that shows up outside as judgment or compassion. Got any new thoughts?

        With COMPASSION,

        Rob

        Date: Wed, 29 May 2013 23:34:25 +0000 To: rbc911@hotmail.com

  3. Pingback: Book review: The Novice by Thich Nhat Hanh | Fiction for a New Age

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