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A Call to Action: Living Compassionately
by Cindy Barg, M.Ed, LMHC
I never expected to be swept back into my own spiritual tradition when I visited an Ashram in India, in 1974. I was an exchange student living with a family who all decided that I might enjoy the experience of participating at a holy temple for a week, which was tucked away in a remote village on the southeastern coast of India.
Of course I would oblige. After all, I was in their home, their country and I fully wanted to respect their intentions.
At the heels of a grueling 4 hour drive to Pondicherry, we finally arrived at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Before I got out of the car, my host mother, in her broken English, declared that they would see me the following week.
There I stood, a young adolescent, in front of an incredibly beautiful, antiquated, hand-carved building, barely knowing the language and utterly bewildered as to what to expect next.
The Temple sat on the hill with a sweeping view of the sea. The beauty promised silence. Fixed before me was a magnificent statue which the monks refer to as Boundless Compassion. The beautiful face of this statue evoked the quality of a loving kindness that moved my soul.
I stood before the statue for a long time. Tears came to my eyes as I recalled how often I found comfort and hope in compassion. As I stepped into this Temple, I had no idea how deeply that visit would impact my inner world for years to come.
We live in a world that is not immune to tragedy, pain and hurt. Adversity does not discriminate. It often comes with little or no opportunity for preparation.
Even if preparation is viable, crushing anguish penetrates too deep, while intolerable sorrow transcends our beings. Yet, after the storm has passed, and the pain has softened, wisdom and tenderness often bloom in the garden of our hearts.
Suffering sears us. Compassion transforms us.
The movement of compassion intimates an energizing reciprocation of divine tenderness and kindness. Compassion is ungraspable, faultless and is completely free of all limitations. It is when we surrender ourselves to the acceptance of compassion that we can open our hearts freely, without laboring over an outcome. In essence, we can love again, and we will, and we must.
As we slowly peel away the layers of our projections, our sorrows, and undress our minds, compassion allows us to rekindle our spirits. It is imperative to practice compassion and to have compassion for ourselves.
Compassion is about being with others in their suffering. It is about entering into that pain in such a way that no one is no longer an observer, but an integral participant. Compassion allows us to experience another person's pain, to sense a kinship with the one who is suffering: no judgment, no questions, just being. To have that compassion for others, we must enter into our own suffering and extend loving kindness to ourselves.
Exposing our own humanity, recognizing our heart connection with all who share the human condition, revering the blessed worth of every human being we meet, opens us to be divine instruments of sacred compassion. It is much easier to practice compassion in this lifetime, than it is not to.
On my last day at Sri Aurobindo, a Sufi Master came up to me and stated: "The only time we are ever awake is when we die. And to know compassion, we must be awake." I did not want to wait that long.
Cindy Barg is an intuitive licensed psychotherapist and highly respected consultant, public speaker and author, whose expertise lies in the areas of, but is not limited to: Grief, Loss, Relationships, Self-Empowerment, Transitions and "Getting Beyond Life's Stuff."
In 1971, Cindy was told she would never walk again or be able to have children, after a devastating car accident. To date she has conducted over 500 workshops all over the country & abroad (China, Malaysia, India), while operating a private practice & offering spiritual retreats on Cape Cod.
Cindy counsels and consults with individuals in person or via phone consultations. She is most recognized for her unique & gifted approach to healing, where she attempts with humility & grace to teach clients to tap into their personal power, grasping & gathering the threads of their life, no matter how profoundly tragic or joyful their circumstances.
For more information about Cindy and her work visit her website: www.gettingbeyondlifestuff.com