Friday, September 7, 2012

What Is Compassion?

Not unlike Jesus, my spirits have risen somewhat today and for that I am eternally grateful. I am also grateful that the DNC is over because I have been staying up too late to watch it but I'm glad I did. As much as I loved Obama, and as much as I thought that Biden (and his wife, too) did a great job with their speeches, I think my favorite line of the entire evening came from John Kerry when he likened Romney's oversea's goodwill mission trip to a "blooper reel."
Haha! Good one, John Kerry!

Anyway, I keep thinking about what a man on Terry Gross's Fresh Air said yesterday. His name is Martin Bayne and he lives in an assisted living facility due to early-age Parkinson's and has lived in a Buddhist monastery and writes about aging and what he said that keeps ringing in my mind was something about self-compassion.
That self-compassion is as important as the compassion we may have for others and that when he realized this and found it for himself, it was the most profound experience of his life.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I am thinking about that. I like to think of myself as a compassionate person but when I really search my heart, I do not think I am nearly as compassionate as I would like to believe and when it comes to self-compassion, I can't even fathom would it would mean.
Is it possible that if I became more self-compassionate, I would become also more compassionate towards others? Would one, could one, begin with self? Is there any difference?

And Obama's speech seemed to me to have a theme of compassion as well. As did most of the speeches at the DNC. Compassion is what causes us to want to hold that door open for others which Michelle Obama spoke of, isn't it? Isn't compassion what allows us to see the struggles of others as not unlike our own and isn't a compassionate government what most of us would strive for?
And do we really need to be compassionate towards our own imperfect selves, our own struggles?

Well. As I say, I am pondering these things.

I wondered last night what our president did after he made that speech. Did he go home and change into comfortable clothes and maybe allow himself a drink? Did his children tease him and did his wife tell him she was proud of him? Did he go back to his office and go over more briefs? What DOES the president of the free world do after making one of the most important speeches of his political career?
Mostly I hope he got a good night's sleep. Mostly I hope he basked in the love of his family for at least a little while.

All right. I'm off. I AM going to shave my legs. Yeah, you needed to know that. I am going to town to the library and to see my boys and to Publix. A big day for me. I am going to think about compassion towards others and towards myself. Maybe I'll have an epiphany. If I do, I'll be sure to let you know about it.

Happy Friday, y'all.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Yes, I also listened to Bayne's interview yesterday and was moved as he described falling to his knees in tears at the notion of self-compassion. Where does one even begin with that?

    I'm glad you're feeling better today.

  2. I have read more than one buddhist-leaning something-or-other that has said compassion for the self should come first and that it is how we learn to be compassionate for others.

    I tend to learn the other way around. I'm just saying that's what I read. My mom has asked me many times over the years when I was being hard on myself that if I were my own friend, wouldn't I be more kind to myself? Don't I deserve the same kindness I would give my friend?


  3. i am holding the door of my heart open. i love the camp of "we're all in this together". i cannot imagine living any other way.
    love you neighbor!

  4. I thought about Obama, too, and what he might be doing after his speech. I noticed that despite all the energy, the tension, everything hideous and nerve-wracking about the election, he DOES have that beautiful family, and it's clear that they're TIGHT. That made me feel like all is well -- that there's nothing new, really, under the sun.

    I'm glad that your black cloud has passed and that you're feeling better.

  5. I really hope that he relaxed and enjoyed some time with his family. I really think he is an awesome fellow.

  6. ah, mary, this is such a profound post. it resonates for me on so many levels, but i'm a little blocked for words right now and cant quite explain. so i'll just say, again, thank you. thank you for being you, for being here, for sharing your heart. i love you.

  7. Self compassion seems to come lower down on the list than it should, I'm thinking. I'm gonna think more on that too...
    I hope our President had a piece of cake and tucked in his girls.

  8. Mary, that was wonderful. I wish I had heard that program about self compassion...I've been working on a post about it and working on it for myself lately.

    Maybe there is a thread in the universe that we pick up sometimes, because I just asked myself the other day..."if I can't be compassionate with myself, how do I expect to find it in me for others?" I too have been reaching out for that. Thank you for speaking up.

    And yes, I think Barack so beautifully embodies that for us.

  9. Happy Friday. Thank god it's the weekend!

    When I think of Bob Kerry as former Governor of Nebraska, "Terms of Endearment" and Debra Winger.

  10. Correction: When I think of Bob Kerry, I think of him as the former Governor of Nebraska, "Terms of Endearment" and Debra Winger.

    But you knew what I was saying. :-) Again, thank god it's Friday.

  11. Enjoyed this post Ms. Moon, and I really enjoyed the DNC. Made me feel good about the US of A but I am sure those feelings will change as soon the hatred and negativity raise their heads again in this political season.

  12. This was a good post - for me, and it seems others. Self-compassion is SO hard for me. I generally feel so kind and loving towards others and yet am so critical of myself. I believe it's a practice, like any other thing we learn to do well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The Obamas actually made me think more hopefully personally as well. They are a beautiful family. Sweet Jo

  13. I wonder if that Terry Gross broadcast is available online, as a podcast or something? I'm going to look for it. I would love to hear it.

    I've never been good at self-compassion. I'm more of a self-disciplinarian. I think it makes me meaner than I need to be. Not consciously meaner -- just harder, you know? Anyway, food for thought.

  14. It makes sense to me that compassion for ourselves would help us to be more compassionate toward others.
    However, I am not going to shave my legs. They need all the compassion they can get.

  15. I was reading a book this morning called Compassion by Christina Feldman, a Buddhist. I'm going to be on retreat with her next month.

    Self compassion, yes.o, yes. it all springs from there, from holding ourselves with such tenderness we can let in a little love for, ug, Romney or some other loathed person. I like to see those I detest as little children who were bullied or shamed or hated. Those horrid things make us grow up crooked. Deep unhappiness inside. And Obama got loved by his grandma and his mom. Look at him. He loves us ladies. He loves his family. Truly.

    Gawd, I hope that didn't come out all preachy.

    You, Ms Moon are full of love and it shines down on you. From me too.


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