Mindfulness and Compassion.
These are two words that we throw around with joyful abandon on a regular basis. At least I know that I do here on this Blog.
Well these are both actually really big words with powerful meanings and implications.
The dictionary defines mindfulness as 1. bearing in mind : aware 2. inclined to be aware.
But in the Buddhist practice, mindfulness (Sati) has a much deeper meaning.
Mindfulness, which is an attentive awareness of the reality of things (especially of the present moment) is an antidote to delusion and is considered as such a “power”. This faculty becomes a power in particular when it is coupled with clear comprehension of whatever is taking place.
A prime example for me recently, has been mindfulness of the food that I consume.
Prior to a month ago, mindfulness to me meant being aware of all the people who had worked to produce and deliver food so that I may eat it. I would think to myself, thank you Farmer, Rancher, field worker, truck driver, grocery store clerk. Everyone whose efforts contributed to bringing the food to me that would benefit my body.
But never did my mind consider the animals that were tortured and killed for my benefit. And what of the environmental impacts of the livestock industry that causes far more environmental damage than all the transportation industry put together!
I, in fact, was not being very mindful at all.
If we are not mindful, there is no way to be compassionate beings.
Remaining ignorant of harm to the self and others is to live without compassion and loving kindness.
And to me, compassion is not compassion if it is not engaged. Compassion is an action word. There is no way to passively engage in compassion with the World and your fellow beings.
I have come to see that it is my selfish nature, the “I” that turns a blind eye to the suffering of others for the sake of instant gratification. And I also wonder how many other situations are present that I simply am choosing to ignore because they do not suit my greed and delusion.
How many people are out there right now who desperately need a little help? A friend who needs comfort, and old folks home who needs volunteer help, a child who is starving in East Africa, a Monk who needs shoes.
None of us can do everything for everyone. But genuine compassion will engage itself as much as possible, wherever possible.
Mindfulness will open your eyes to reality, compassion will change the World.
May all blessings be upon you.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.