Ultimately, compassion represents a shift from me-centered to we-centered thinking, and the realization that loving others is loving yourself. My teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda, beautifully articulates this essential truth when he says, “Real love is possible only when you see everything as your own expression. All others are none other than you; they just appear to be different. We always need to go beyond the name and form. When we rise above the worldly limitations, we will find that the essence is the same.”
I believe our practice of compassionate action is much more potent when seen in the context of the condition of our world, our communities and our homes. Everyday choices, as well as our long term goals, take on new relevance when we realize that each action and every focused thought is a tangible contribution to the collective consciousness of our planet.
We may not be able to negotiate peace settlements or end world hunger, but we can each take concrete steps to volunteer our time right where we are. We can offer free Yoga classes, serve in a soup kitchen, tutor disadvantaged children or reach out in myriad ways to those in need.
Serving in these ways is a natural expression of compassion and arises from the recognition of our interdependence with all of life. Actions performed with genuine care for others are healing for our hearts, and we find joy in giving rather than looking for a reward or outcome. This is how we really bring our Yoga practice to life.
“Unless we realize our own true nature, unless we become aware of our spiritual reality, our life’s purpose is not fulfilled. The main goal behind all these searches and approaches and actions is to realize our true nature, to realize the Self, the God within, and thus to realize that everything is the expression of that same Spirit.”
Sri Swami Satchidananda
“Although the trance of feeling separate and unworthy is an inherent part of our conditioning as humans, so too is our capacity to awaken. We free ourselves from the prison of trance as we stop the war against ourselves and, instead, learn to relate to our lives with a wise and compassionate heart.”