Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Path to Peace

Many people of my acquaintance use the terms "sympathy," "empathy," and "compassion" interchangeably. I believe that they have different meanings and applications. It seems to me that compassion is entering into, or sharing, a feeling with another; this is accompanied by a willingness to act. Empathy is the sharing of feeling with a desire to absorb some of the energy, but not to necessarily act. Sympathy is the projecting of one's own feeling on another.

If I have compassion, I too have an emotional investment in the resolution of another's problem or feelings. I will look for ways to share the other's burden. When I empathize, I am emotionally present for the other. In sympathy, I simply acknowledge that you have a given feeling. I like to think that compassion is a sharing of the love of the Infinite in all of us; that we are all bound together by the same spark of creation. I believe that what hurts one bit of creation hurts all of us, and that what heals one soul heals a bit of all.

Many also seem to loosely use "motivation" and "manipulation." My yardstick for these terms is how they are used to effect the one who is being led to act. If I encourage action of another with selfish motives on my part, that is manipulation. If I support action for the betterment of others, that is motivation.

What does all this have to do with faith? I believe that to become one again in Eternity, we must seek to be more compassionate, even of those we feel are our enemies. We must also ask ourselves if our leaders are acting as motivating forces or simply manipulating us for their own selfish ends.

Compassion is the only known path to peace. The Buddha, Abraham, Moses, The Christ all sought to motivate their followers to live lives of compassion in order to promote community (unity with others) -- "on earth as it is in Heaven."

1 comment:

  1. I like your thoughts on motivation vs manipulation. Whem I'm motivated against my will (coerced) I feel manipulated. Or if I am motivated and then find out later I have been motivated by a deception, I am angry - at other, yes, but mostly angry at myself for not recognizing the deception. Does that make any sense?