In this short talk, Guy Finley explains how real compassion is the fruit of the mind that awakens to where it is harming itself.
Click here to listen to “The Birth of True Compassion”
It’s a funny thing to think that you can look at people daily, see all of the various forms of dysfunctionality they exhibit — all the signs of great personal suffering — and still not know anything at all about their pain. But there are good reasons for this kind of blindness.
No one can know the unspoken pain of another person until one knows his own; and this self-knowledge, I believe, is the heart of compassion.
In some strange paradoxical way, to know one’s own spiritual poverty is to see and know that same pain in all — and to value them all the more for it. And even more paradoxical is this fact: It’s never too late to awaken to what is true…and to see how it changes all things present, future, and past.
Question: In our world, being successful is linked to making a good living. With fear running rampant in the new realities of our global economic situation, making a good living appears harder and harder to achieve. It seems we need a new definition for “success”!
Answer: Counter to popular opinion, real success is not measured by the amount of our possessions. Simply stated, the truth is that real success — ultimately the only success — is determined by how much we are in actual possession of ourselves. And by the light of this great fact of life, we can also see that the person who fears the loss of what he thinks is his success has not truly succeeded. Why is this the truth? The individual who lives with secret self-defining fears is not a self-possessing person but rather a person possessed, often pushed and punished by his fears.
To see the truth of these findings is to realize the need for a whole new way to succeed in life. And to come upon this new order of success calls to us to search out a totally different path through life, a new path we can climb only by calling on a whole new set of higher actions. We can begin our ascent to securing real success with the following new action:
We must begin the inner work of consciously proving to ourselves that there is nothing to fear, instead of allowing our fears to push us into a never-ending series of fearful actions. This suggested new action makes more sense the more we gain insight into our present notion of success; for if we look closely, we can see that contained right within it, although unseen at present, is the fear of failure. The real fear behind this idea of failing is our unconscious fear of losing our familiar, confident sense of self. So, what we must see here, unflinchingly, is this next fact in our study.
As long as what we think of as being our “success” in life harbors the secret fear of our self somehow being diminished by the loss of this same external source, then our sense of self does not belong to us. Under these conditions we are little more than unsuspecting victims subject to every vagrant wind of change that blows through the world of our enterprise… not a very pleasant or promising prospect, is it? Of course not. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can learn life’s secret lessons about the nature of real success, and follow them all the way to the Real Life that is their source. So let us begin this inner journey that will take us beyond our fears and our unconsciously fearing self.
If your answer to some sad memory that floats through your mind is to just drift along with it, why should you be surprised when you suddenly find yourself being carried over the falls of deep grief? The reason you have the feeling of falling is because you and your answer are never apart.
Your answer to the challenge of any moment — and what you experience as the quality of your life in that moment — are one and the same thing. In other words, the way you answer life’s events, and what you experience as your life, are really one.
You can’t separate yourself from what you receive from life any more than the ocean is apart from its own waves.
Within the space of each beat of your heart, you get the exact measure of the answer you gave to life the moment before. No more, no less: Life is always true in this way. Without fail, and without judgment, life speaks directly to you through your own immediate experience of it. Learn to listen for its wise council whenever you meet a moment. What it always says is: “Here is you back.”
Reality is a perfect mirror, and our fearless nature is the perfect teacher because it never denies what it sees. Your life can be just as light-filled and light-hearted as is this pure, elevated Self, if you’re willing to see that when there’s something sour in your life, it’s your answer that’s bitter.