The word compassion comes from the French compassion and before Latin word “compati” /compasio: com= together, pati or patio = suffering /pain. The exact meaning is “ suffering with”.
The Dalai Lama is advocating over and over learning and expressing compassion first for self so we can to express compassion to others because, as he said, without self-compassion, expressing compassion for others is difficult if not impossible.
So, self-compassion means to “to suffer with self.” Sounds weird, isn’t it?
It is a fact: all of us are experiencing mood swings up down, up down, all the time. There are many obvious reasons to be down and depressed such as when a disaster is striking but our mind can be moody even without obvious reasons. For example:
Sometimes we wake up in good spirit, sometime we feel gloomy and down without any specific triggers.
Beside the powerful hidden impacts of our subconscious mind on our swinging mood, our emotional ups and downs is probably one of the best tools used by our conscious mind to control us since emotions, especially the negative ones, are attracting our attention like light is attracting bugs at night.
Here is a great question from Harish Verma, one of our Sat. meditation group.
Re your talk on Saturday, I fully understand and agree with the importance of remaining in “the present”. I also realize that devoting your attention to the past and the future can sap away the dynamism and vitality you need for the present.
However I cannot help but think of the fact that we are all products of the past and our present behaviour, way of thinking is based upon our past experiences. At the same time from a transactional point of view we have to pay attention and do something about the future. A good small example is you emails about the upcoming meditation session.
How can we reconcile the above with being only mindful of the present ?
Perhaps you can throw some light on this at the next talk. Harish Verma
My reply in blue
No one will deny past and future. It is a matter of 1) definition of words. 2) proper balance that is going along the Mid Way.
“We are the products of the past” …..etc….
Yes and no:
We are always the products of a “present moment” which is dead right now and that we call past. Beside, this definition is restricted only to our material creation i.e . fecundation of an egg with a sperm.
We are —–I think, as Zen Buddhism does—–far more that just a genetic material stuff.
As far the future:
Same thing. The “future” is in fact an incoming “present moment” not born yet.
Life is made of endless cycles birth and death and the present has the same
cycle that is incoming birth ( future ), actual present moment and death ( past )
Planning for the future is OK of course but in fact we are planning for an incoming present moment
2500 years old Zen Buddhism and now modern medical research are stressing the beneficial impacts of living in the present moment and be mindful to its various components.
What is the present moment?
It is just now, not 3 min. before, not five min. after.
Based on necessity, we invited time 5000 years ago. Using the moon phases, the Egyptians created a calendar of 12 months and 350 days. Then weeks, hours and seconds were defined to achieve what we have now. A very useful mathematical invention. Without it , planning will be impossible.
We are convinced that past, present and future do exist. If the present obviously exists because we are experiencing it now, past and future exist only in our mind. They are not real per se because
Siddharta Gautama nickname the Buddha was born on 623 BCE. He was the son of a local king near the current border of India and Nepal. This silver-spoon young man left his wife, young boy and family at the age of 19. His quest: to understand the sources human suffering and to look for potential solution.
After 5 years of huge struggling including near death ascetic practice, he decided to meditate intensively and to find some answers. Meditation, practiced for thousands of years was an integral part of life for everyone. At 30 years old and after6 years of meditation he found the answers he was looking for.
“ I am awake!” he said meaning, “I am aware of the present moment & its concrete reality. I am free from my relentless mind-madeday dreaming”.(more…)
The purpose of meditation is to improve our quality of life that is 1) being able to have a better control of our stress and 2) to control our restless ego-driven mind producing negative emotions, daydreaming and ongoing useless labeling. The ultimate goal of meditation is to achieve serenity within self and altruism / compassion for others.
Our main source of “suffering” is self-induced and has 3 roots: clinging, hatred and illusions. They are creating all kind of struggles and emotional storms. By learning to tame these 3self-induced sources, we should be able to reduce if not eliminate suffering by accepting then controlling our emotions and finally to achieve peaceful mind and serenity.
This is how quality of life is improved not only for self but also in our relationships with others.