Compassion and power. Simple words that can be defined in many ways.
Compassion is love. Compassion is the desire to help others. It is that strong desire to be able to relate, even if you can’t. It is sympathy and sometimes even empathy. It is what makes us cry when we see something terrible happening. It fuels our basic human need to do all we can to solve the problems of the people we care about.
Compassion, in all its simplicity, is a basically good emotion that helps keep our world functioning. Without compassion, where would we be? If I didn’t want to help you when you most needed it, what would happen to us all?
Then, there is power. Power is such an incredible and polarized word. Power can infer a dark desire for more. Some people have the ability to make great change, and misuse it. This abuse of power gives it a bad name and a negative connotation in some cases. Power can mean awesome strength. Power can symbolize greatness and something absolutely incredible. But power can be easier to grasp than we may realize.
Power doesn’t just belong to the God and Goddess that created us. Power is found in the fierceness and brutality of nature, but power is also found in the simple calming properties of a tiny flower. Humans are born with power… perhaps not as grand as what we witness around us, but it is still there.
Humans are also born with compassion. It is simply something we have to tap into. What is so amazing about power and compassion is not only do they intertwine gracefully, but they are also similar. Compassion is power — more so than we realize.
However you believe human beings came to be, I think we can all agree that we did not end up on this earth to eat, sleep, and die. We all have some kind of purpose. Most people do not know what this purpose is, and some may not even ever discover what it is.
Whether you believe it is to love and be loved, or to make the world a better place, or to prepare yourself for the next life or Summerland, or even if you think all we are meant for is to carry on our race – there is something that a human must accomplish. To make this accomplishment possible, we have power. Free will is arguably one of the greatest powers bestowed upon us. Every other power we possess in our being relates to whether or not we choose to utilize that power for the greater good. Compassion is one of these powers – and oh, how wonderful it is!
Compassion is a power within us that creates a need to help others. Some people lack this power altogether. In some, it isn’t as strong as it is in others. For every person who isn’t compassionate enough, there are those who are so compassionate that they almost can’t handle it. This is something we must consider carefully. If we aren’t doing enough, what can we do so that we can do more? What happens if we’ve done all we can, but that need to help is still there? And how do we tell the difference? We start by assessing what other powers we have that we can put to good use.
For our purposes, I will divide our human powers into two basic groups: spiritual and physical. When people reference compassion and what is in their power to help, the usually think of the most very basic spiritual power – prayer – and the most easy physical power – monetary aid. (For us Wiccans, we would probably translate “prayer” into something like meditation, ritual, or spell work. They are essentially the same thing, but just given different names by different religions.)
It is so much simpler for us, when faced with a disaster, to donate a little bit of money to the Red Cross and do a daily ritual for a few weeks, and then forget about what happened. But sometimes we feel trapped because our compassion is so overwhelming, and we think, “Why did that have to happen? What can I do to help? Should I do something crazy, like flying down and helping out the Red Cross in a mission or housing a homeless family? I feel like I’m not doing nearly enough!” For some people, it’s enough to bring them to tears – feeling that hopeless and helpless is never pleasant.
The first thing we must learn to develop in any situation that requires our compassion – whether it be a friend in need of a friend, or a huge natural disaster – is our spiritual power. This can have so much more of an affect than we may realize. Positive thinking is one of the keys to getting things accomplished. This can benefit not only the person whom the thoughts are directed to, but the person thinking them as well.
Someone once referred to me the book “The Hidden Messages In Water” by Masaru Emoto, and the point made there is basically the same as mine. It is a true account of a scientist who studies the crystal patterns of water in its normal state and then again after they have been exposed to intense amounts of positive thoughts and words. The crystal patterns of the water became substantially more complex and beautiful after having positive words said over them by a Buddhist monk.
Now, if one person can have such an effect on water, what’s to say any of us can’t have a beneficial effect on a more difficult situation?
Certainly it requires more effort and perhaps some practice, but that isn’t to say it can’t be done.
Sending positive thoughts through ritual can have such an amazing effect on the universe. It is one of the most relieving feelings in the world to know that there is someone out there who is at least thinking of you, even if they are powerless to do anything about your plight. When you know you are loved or in someone’s thoughts, it gives you the strength to carry on.
So the first thing we should do when we feel strong compassion for a situation is use that power of compassion to generate positive thoughts and spread awareness. Knowing is often half the battle, and the more people who are aware of a situation, the more positive thoughts that can be generated to help it. Persistence is also key – if this situation is something you meditate upon daily, the more likely you are to be of service.
Once we have a spiritual handle on the situation, it is then we are able to approach it level-headedly. We can use our other physical powers to help the situation, doing things like writing letters and volunteering our time, and donating supplies and money. It’s so much easier to accomplish all we are able after putting as much spiritual and mental effort into the situation as we can.
Of course there will still be situations where we still feel as if we haven’t done enough. That compassion is overwhelming, and when not giving the right kind of advice to a friend or when faced with a world crisis where we are powerless to help, we feel like failures.
In these situations, all we can do is be compassionate and let people know that we extend these feelings of love towards them. Sometimes it’s all we can do and sometimes it’s the best we can do. And even if our rituals, meditations, and donations only help one person, isn’t that enough to have made a difference?
If we all could help just one person, it would mean so much. Of all our powers of human aid, compassion is our most powerful. Not only does it spurn us to help those in need, but also our powerful feelings in themselves help those in need. The Goddess and God are always there, always listening, and are a wonderful medium to work through when what we desire is truly what we want.
I had begun working on this essay during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the same thoughts held true the year before during the Tsunami disaster and they hold true now through the situation in Darfur. We always hear things about Christians using the power of prayer, but it is essentially “the thought that counts”.
Taking a few moments to meditate each day on the Goddess’ children who are hurting, or perhaps even casting a generic spell to help those in need or sending positive thoughts into the world can be surprisingly helpful.
Feeling a powerful compassion toward a person or situation is the most amazing power that we have – and it’s something we should learn to use more often.