There is a lot of talk about compassion nowadays. Compassion for all beings. In the Buddhist tradition, compassion is a huge focal point. It is the core of everything they talk about, believe, and live their lives by. And there are so many ways that we can apply compassion in our own lives as well.
Ollivander the Snake
The other day, I was walking down the street, and I saw a snake lying across the road. I stopped to look at it because I like snakes and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, how beautiful!’ His eyes were open and he was just sitting completely still.
(I am calling the snake a “He” because he looked reasonably masculine to me, and I felt the name Ollivander suited him nicely).
My initial thought was to get him out of the road because I didn’t want him to get run over. But then I looked a little closer and realized that he had already been run over. The snake was very hurt. He had looked fine at first glance. But then, looking a little closer, I could see that his organs were oozing out of the bottom of him. He was dying slowly.
I was just completely wrought with compassion for this dying snake because I knew how much he must be suffering. Sprawled across the road like that, with all of his organs out, he was still alive! He had to experience this entire thing.
And here I am, standing in the middle of the road, with cars driving by, staring at the snake. And I just burst into tears, because the pain that I could feel for this snake was so overwhelming, all I wanted to do was take the snake’s pain away.
What Can We Do?
I stared at the snake for a little bit longer, and I did a visualization that my spiritual teacher taught me. I imagined that the snake was turning into this golden light – this glittery light – that floats up into a chosen deity (or just a chosen Divine Source or even just into the universe or the ethers – depends on what you believe). Then I just imagined that I could take all of the snake’s suffering away.
Now there’s something to be said for taking away the suffering of another being, and a lot of people are hesitant to do this type of thing because the first instinct they have is, “if I energetically take someone’s suffering away, then I’m going to suffer too, right?”
But the thing about that… you’re doing something so selfless for someone else the universe doesn’t actually let you experience pain. It’s a completely selfless act, and it can only do good things.
What We Put Out There Will Come Back to Us
When you’re doing something good, and you’re putting good out into the world; only good things come back to you. That’s the beauty of the loving-kindness (or Meta Karuna) that the Buddhists talk about. This whole principle behind compassion is a concept that is hard to wrap your mind around, but once you start practicing it, it becomes almost fun, even addictive.
You want to keep helping people, and you want to keep taking suffering away from others. I’ve actually been able to apply this to my own lifetime of dealing with chronic pain.
Although, after a long time, I have been able to actually overcome chronic pain, using a series of mindfulness, as well as muscular movement techniques. But this is one of those little things that I was taught a while ago, that has been a complete game changer for me.
I can look at something now, something that’s suffering, or someone who is suffering (and if I can, I put my hands on them, if not, I just do it visually), and I imagine pulling their suffering from them.
Let It All Go
It works when you’re the one suffering too. For instance, if you deal with chronic pain, or if you’ve had an injury, or you’re sick, just imagine that you can offer that suffering up to the universe. Offer it to the universe or whatever Divine Source that you look up to, and just offer that pain and suffering away.
Allow it to go back to the Earth, back into the universe for recycling, because that’s what the universe does. It recycles the bad and transforms it into good. But the best part is, the more good you put out there, the more compassion you put out there – the more you get back.
So even though you’re doing something like consciously trying to absorb someone else’s pain, it’s completely selfless, so you know that you are always protected.
Only good could come of this, so even when you’re suffering, you can allow that suffering to go out into the world and imagine that, by offering that suffering up, your actually alleviating the pains of others. You are lessening the pains a little bit.
Pain With a Purpose
This is even a belief in Christianity, the idea where Christ died on the cross for our sins. He got up there and suffered. He offered himself up to God, his Divine father, to completely eradicate the sins of all the rest of us. And that was just one man, so imagine if all of us were out there doing things like that!
That does not mean go out there and purposely seek pain. It does mean when you experience it you can give it a purpose. By giving a pain a purpose, our suffering will feel less pointless. We will feel less worthless.
So many of us feel like we’re suffering for no reason and it makes us feel completely hopeless. I understand because I’ve been there. I felt hopeless, useless, and I didn’t know why I was suffering. And I wondered about it out loud all the time. And when you just lay there and ask “Why?” that’s actually the ego putting it out there.
The Ego LOVES to Complain
The whining, the suffering, and the “poor me” doesn’t help anyone. Sitting around and asking “why me?” doesn’t help either because it’s the same thing as whining. All it does is it put negativity and inferiority and worthlessness out into the world. And the thing is, you get that back when you put that out there. So if we can actually stand up and really put positivity out there, it’s only going to come back to us. Over time, the suffering begins to lessen.
So after walking by and seeing this snake suffering, I was completely filled with compassion. I wished that I could take this snake’s misery away, my eyes were filled with tears. I felt ridiculous because I knew this was just a random snake I had never interacted with. But it reminded me of all the instances when I would watch my daughter suffer.
If you have a child, you know what this is like because you wish you could just take your child’s pain away, and you don’t care if it means that you’re going to experience the pain too because you would do anything for that child.
If we can get to that point with, not even just our loved ones, but random acquaintances, and even the people we dislike, then we have finally learned the fine art of compassion. I feel that this is a point Divine enlightenment (or God realization, Samadhi, Nirvana, Christ Consciousness, Oneness with the Holy Spirit – whatever you want to call it) that is when we reach that state.
Find Your Bliss
When you can actually experience that same kind of compassion for all beings, whether big or small, someone you like or dislike, and feel that kind of compassion; then you’ve truly reached a state that you can genuinely be proud of.
We are all connected. The snake is me, so of course, I suffer with it. And now, I smile because I know Ollivander is finally at peace, and his soul was never in danger.
If you liked this article you will also be interested in Saying Goodbye to a Dying Parent.
You can also watch my VIDEO about this same topic, which goes more in-depth about giving pain a purpose.