COMPASSION & KINDNESS FROM DAAJI, HEARTFULNESS
Kamlesh Patel is the world teacher and the fourth spiritual Guide in the Heartfulness tradition. He oversees Heartfulness centres and ashrams in over 130 countries, and guides the thousands of certified Heartfulness trainers who are permitted to impart Yogic Transmission under his care. Known to many as Daaji, he is an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the inner world of spirituality and Yoga and the outer world of science, blending the two into transcendental research on the evolution of consciousness. He is expanding our understanding of the purpose of human existence to a new level, so necessary at this pivotal time in human history.
There are many qualities that make us human. For a start, our race has a well-developed mind and heart. The mind is able to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad, efficient and inefficient, profitable and unprofitable, and so on. The heart is able to feel, resonate and respond appropriately. Perhaps two of the most important qualities that make us human are the ability to sympathize and empathize with others who are suffering, and the willingness to help them. It is the attitude of caring for others. Under the spell of passion, our own satisfaction and fulfillment come first, whereas a compassionate heart makes no such demands; others come first.
A compassionate heart will go all out to make a difference, despite personal inconvenience and sacrifice. And the end goal is not to earn brownie points to enter the gates of heaven; it is far from that. Actually in such compassionate and loving hearts, true Divinity already resides, and there is no lack of anything, including heaven. And at a higher level of evolution, help is extended as if one is helping oneself rather than the ‘other’. This is when we will see the quantum leap in evolution of the human race.
Everyday acts of compassion and kindness are actually quite common, and we see them around us all the time: a young boy helping an elderly lady to cross the road; a woman giving food to a homeless person; a gentleman helping a mother with small children to get on the bus. There are whole professions that traditionally have compassion and kindness at their base, such as the medical profession, the teaching profession and the hospitality industry – in fact all the service professions. There are also many charitable organizations that run soup kitchens, distribute clothes, feed the poor, provide free medical care etc. They are inspiring examples of the goodness and vision of people who set about to make the world a better place.
Compassion is all about feeling, resonating and responding appropriately. So it is not that we need to have personally experienced the same pain in order to support someone who has fallen. Must we be ill before our hearts decide to help the victims of disease? No, but having suffered ourselves, we will perhaps better understand the pain of others. It will make us better empathizers. It is here that we can ask the question, “If I were in the same situation, what would I want?” The natural capacity to “Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you” is distorted only when the voice of the heart goes unheard, overridden by the more self-centered ‘rational’ concerns of our desires and ego: “Oh, if I help that lady who has fallen down, I will be late for work. Then I will be in trouble with my boss. Also, maybe I will have to get involved in taking her home or to the hospital.” “If I spend time helping my junior colleagues, they will get the kudos for the project and I will lose out on my own promotion.” “If I say sorry to my wife for being so angry, I will look weak. I cannot let her and the children see me as a weakling!”
But if we withdraw our senses and turn our focus inwards on ourselves, it is just like looking in the mirror to check how we are dressed, how our hair is etc. We can then adjust ourselves if something is not quite right. As we look into ourselves we become increasingly aware of patterns of thoughts and emotions that otherwise go undetected. As there is no external agency pointing the finger at us, there is no backlash from the ego, so it becomes a potent and solemn moment where we come face-to-face with our true nature. It is then that change becomes possible.
How to come face-to-face with ourselves? It is through meditation and meditation alone. As we increasingly connect with the heart, it guides us on questions of kindness and compassion and many things beyond, about which we have not even started asking questions. When the hand slips into the pocket to reach for a few dollars to give the homeless person ahead, but the legs have already walked past, it is the heart that makes us turn around and go back to help. It is also in the silence of the heart and mind that we come to acknowledge and make peace with our own failings. Once we can do this with ourselves, we can do it with others. Extending the courtesy of tolerance and understanding to our fellow beings is then a natural outcome.
Imagine reaching deep down into your consciousness, peeling away the layers of identity – name, gender, ethnicity, background, qualifications, religion etc. Imagine that in deep relaxation you are able to go beyond the body and mind. What remains? There is still an awareness that you exist. At that level, how different are we from each other?
Now, imagine a canvas on which various things are drawn: people, animals, an island, trees, mountains and the sun. Each object is separate, but they are all on that one canvas. Once the outlines of the individual objects are washed off, what remains is only the canvas. Our consciousness is like that canvas, only in our case it is so vast and the contours so invisible to the naked eye that we do not see how we are all connected with each other.
With some imagination, though, we can surely understand that when disease is all around we cannot simply close the doors and remain healthy, and when others are hungry we cannot hoard food. Yet still today we find obesity in some communities and malnutrition in others. Would that be possible in a world of compassion?
The experience of inextricable connection to others brings about a consciousness that naturally empathizes. From this perspective, compassion is not a conscious willed act, not even a necessity, but an intuitive reaction as natural as when our hands protect our body or our legs run away from danger.
When we try to ‘practice’ compassion and kindness from the outside, through exercises, logic, expectations, rules or a sense of shame, it can never be genuine, although it is a good place to start. It is good, for example, that school children celebrate and participate in ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ in their community. A time will come when such acts of kindness will become heartfelt and natural.
By awakening our heart’s consciousness, we become more aware. The greater the awareness, the better our human race becomes. Continuous improvement at a human level opens up yet other vistas for further evolution. Per contra, if we do not respond appropriately, that faculty will remain underutilized and will certainly decay over time. How to raise our consciousness to a level that is more fluid and flexible, ever ready to respond correctly with the right dosage? Ask yourself: Is compassion in itself good enough? What higher purpose can it serve?
If you are convinced that it does serve a higher purpose, ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ and compassion will not remain random. Instead, we will make use of this trait for our betterment towards purity. And how to enhance this vital quality? We develop it by diving deeper within our hearts in order to feel our connection with everything around us, so that we can live life in such a way that compassion and kindness become natural and spontaneous in every thought and act.
Heartfulness Meditation with pranahuti helps us do just that, gradually removing the filters of excessive desire and ego that complicate the affairs of the heart and mind. This allows us to shift our attention from ‘me to we’. As we proceed further, consciousness expands to a still higher dimension, where the qualities of generosity of heart, seeing others as greater than ourselves, humility, compassion and kindness reach their epitome, as a result of the love that blossoms from within. Then we find a spontaneous and all-encompassing embodiment of goodness. That is the Heartfulness way!
All the best,