Search
  • Barry Shirley

Mumbo Jumbo News - Issue 17 - May 2021- 'Humanity, Compassion and Love'

Hi Guys. In this May 2021 blog (Issue17) – I would like to contemplate the intertwined subjects of ‘Humanity, Compassion and Love’.


As in my previous blogs, I will draw on the views and opinions of past and current masters, sages, mystics, gurus, philosophers and generally wise people. I also tap into all the worldly belief systems, religions and philosophies to draw on ancient knowledge and wisdom. These blog posts are designed for those interested in mindfulness and will only give you a taste of the information, knowledge and wisdom that is out there (and all points raised can easily be further researched


The world seems to be hurt and broken at present. And there would seem to be some people that live entirely in their own ego construct and sense of identity with complete disdain for the plight of others. It is recognised that we have ‘programming’ in each of us to ensure our survival but ‘schadenfreude’ (German word meaning enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others) is also alive a well for some people.


We have seen this in aggressive politics and related behaviours all around the world, isolating communities in latent or overt tribalism, embracing ultra-nationalism, patriotism, extreme ideology and religious beliefs, selfishness, demagoguery, propaganda and general craziness!


Can you identify with other human beings in this imperfect world?

As Charles Dickens (English Author and Social Critic of the Victorian era) famously said; It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” A quote still relevant today.


Never forget we are all figuratively ‘climbing the same mountain’ and if you can envisage the current world view as; people ‘suffering’ to a degree beyond what you would accept for yourself, then you are experiencing compassion and humanity.


What is compassion? Compassion is said to be a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them.


The great sage Eckhart Tolle (Spiritual Teacher and Author) has given much commentary on the subject of compassion and draws from his seminal work, The Power of Now when he states that; “Compassion is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures. But there are two sides to compassion, two sides to this bond. On the one hand, since you are still here as a physical body, you share the vulnerability and mortality of physical form with every other human and with every living being. Next time you say “I have nothing in common with this person,” remember that you have a great deal in common: A few years from now – two years or seventy years, it doesn’t’ make much difference – both of you will have become rotting corpses, then piles of dust, then nothing at all. This is a sobering and humbling realisation that leaves little room for pride. Is this a negative thought? No, it is a fact. Why close your eyes to it? In that sense, there is total equality between you and every other creature.”

Surprisingly, mainly unknown, the Charter for Compassion is a document and worldwide movement designed to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action, to the centre of our lives. The Charter for Compassion was recognised by the Australian Parliament in 2010 (Gillard Labor government). It was the first parliament in the world to affirm the Charter. In preparation for the launch of its strategic plan 2021, Australia; A Continent for Compassion, the Charter for Compassion Australia is introducing initiatives including the National Day of Compassion (21 September 2021), the Compassionate Cities Program and the Compassion Action Network. See; https://www.charterforcompassion.com.au/


Karen Armstrong is a world-renowned writer and religious historian who won the global TED prize in 2008. She made a wish to create, launch and propagate a Charter for Compassion. The Charter was crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers and was based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect that follows the Golden rule of ‘do to others as you would have them do unto you’. See the following link; https://blog.ted.com/on-the-12-steps-to-a-compassionate-life-qa-with-karen-armstrong/


After the launch of her book; ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’ in 2011, Karen was asked by an interviewer; 'What do you think is the biggest obstacle to experiencing compassion or understanding compassion, and then more importantly, acting on it'?


She said; “Oh, just superciliousness, I think – a feeling of sophisticated disdain that “this won’t work.” And secondly, a sense of defeat, that the world’s problems are of such magnitude that people feel paralysed. Also, there’s egotism: people don’t want to put others before themselves.


We are addicted to our egotism, our likes and dislikes and prejudices, and depend upon them for our own sense of identity. When we come out with a clever and unpleasant remark about somebody else, we get a rush of self-satisfaction. Unfortunately, that hit poisons us, and it poisons the atmosphere around us.


I begin the book by explaining, almost in neurological terms, how central our survival mechanism is, and how it can make us lash out violently at others, making people aware of these aggressive tendencies. These automatic reflexes are very strong. If a tiger suddenly jumps into the room, we’re designed to get up and run for our lives or shoot it, not sit and meditate, or try to make friends with it.


But we can’t afford that aggressive tendency to dominate our dangerously polarized world. People are reluctant to accept that our enemies are not separate from ourselves, and treat them with contempt, or with violence. And we still think suffering happens far away. In fact, we are connected whether we like it or not – we’re electronically, educationally, financially and economically interdependent as never before – and our perceptions haven’t yet caught up with that. Compassion is now central to our survival, and the book tries to help people to integrate this global thinking into their daily lives……”


What is humanity? The word humanity is from the Latin humanitas for "human nature, kindness and tenderness.” Humanity includes the totality of the human race, but it can also refer to the kind, compassionate and loving feelings humans often have for each other.


The current Dalai Lama has made many expressions on the state of humanity in the world. In his 2011 book, ‘How to be Compassionate’ he comments that; “In a sense, all human beings belong to a single family. We need to embrace the oneness of humanity and show concern for everyone – not just for my family or my country or my continent. We must show concern for every being not just the few that resemble us most. Differences of religion, ideology, race, economic system, social system and government are all secondary.


First you need to realise that each and every other sentient being wants happiness and does not want suffering, just as you do; in this fundamental way you and they are equal. Then, when you consider that you are only a single person measured against an infinite number of other sentient beings, you realise that it would be completely ridiculous either to neglect the welfare of others, or to use them for the sake of your own pleasure. It would be far more reasonable to dedicate yourself to their service.


When you consider the situation this way, it becomes very clear. To lose the happiness of a single person is important, but not so important as losing the happiness of many other beings.”


What is Love? As the 1955 song and film indicates; “Love is a many splendoured thing…. love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living…”

Erich Fromm 20th century German Psychoanalyst and Social Philosopher studied different aspects of love, drawing on his work with patients and emerging ideas in philosophy. In his 1956 book, ‘The Art of Loving’ he said that; “…. modern humans are alienated from each other and from nature, and we seek refuge from our lonesomeness in romantic love and marriage.”


However, he then observes that real love "….is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone. It is only through developing one's total personality to the capacity of loving one's neighbour with true humility, courage, faith and discipline that one attains the capacity to experience real love. This should be considered a rare achievement”.


He observed that the key to love is to treat it not as a noun – a state to be found and possessed – but as a verb – a practice to be mastered. The difficult work is the mastering, which then confers ease upon love between those who have done this work.


Ancient Hindu philosophy also had some amazing insights into what love is, with 5 different stages culminating in the final stage called, ‘Atma Prema’ (Sanskrit word), translated as; ‘unconditional Self-love’. The previous 4 stages of love are directed outward into the world and ‘Atma Prema’, as Self-love, does not mean the self as we would usually think of it, but the higher Self, the self that exists at the centre of all of us (the Atman). The 15th century Indian mystical poet Kabir Das interpreted this as; “The river that flows in you also flows in me.” I.e. we should see ourselves in others and see others in ourselves.


The Bhagavad Gita (ancient Sanskrit Hindu teaching at least 3-5 thousand years old) also mentions compassion, humanity and love throughout. The Gita basically denotes an allegorical battle between the forces of the ego and the higher self with Krishna as the Supreme Soul teaching the warrior Arjuna (representing the best but flawed aspects of humanity) how to defeat the ego forces and discover the higher self.


At Sloka (i.e. verse) 32, Chapter VI – Krishna states; He who, through the likeness of the Self, O Arjuna, sees equality everywhere through joy and sorrow, he is considered a supreme yogi. The verse, interpreted among other meanings, recommends a kind of universal empathy – always looking to the welfare of all living entities.


At Sloka 15 of Chapter 12 in the Gita, Krishna states that a yogi is; “By whom the world is not agitated and he who is not agitated by the world, who is freed from joy, envy, fear and anxiety – he is dear to me”

I.e. one who has defeated ego.


In overall terms of humanity, the Barret Academy for the Advancement of Human Values is a London based international think tank which seeks to provide evidence-based advice on the evolution of human consciousness. - see link https://www.barrettacademy.com/


The Academy recently analysed the results of over 1 million Personal Value Assessments. After the value profile was distilled to the top five values it indicated that inter-personal safety was a fundamental priority for most people. And that historically, personal safety has always been linked to belonging and identity. It also suggested that self-expression is also a fundamental priority.


However, the results indicated that people prioritise inter-personal safety over self-expression. Only when we feel safe do we feel free to express who we are. The article indicated that, “We cannot grow and develop unless we feel safe. Once we feel safe, then self-realisation becomes our main priority. If we want to build a positive future for everyone, we must create the conditions in our society that allow people to feel safe, especially our children, and support everyone in their self-expression. Feeling safe is intimately linked to belonging and belonging is intimately linked to identity.”


Do any of these aspects make any difference if countries have closed or open societies? - i.e. does it make any difference if they are democracies or authoritarian in their make up?


It is highly probable that that it does make some difference. Please see Freedom House - https://freedomhouse.org/article/new-report-global-decline-democracy-has-accelerated – Freedom House is a U.S.-based, U.S. government-funded non-profit non-governmental organisation that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. Freedom House was founded in October 1941, and Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons.


On 3 March 2021 Freedom House released the ‘Freedom in the World 2021’ annual report of a country-by-country assessment of political and civil liberties. The report (as quoted in the press release) found that the share of countries designated Not Free has reached its highest level since the deterioration of democracy began in 2006. Also, that countries with declines in political rights and civil liberties outnumbered those with gains by the largest margin recorded during the 15-year period. The report downgraded the freedom scores of 73 countries representing 75 percent of the global population. [pause and be grateful if you live in Australia – my emphasis! – the report makes interesting reading].


Quotes

  • You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” - Mahatma Gandhi - Indian Lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, political ethicist – (1869 – 1947).

  • ‘I will never apologize for saying that the future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict.” – Barack Obama – 44th US President (b. 1961).

  • "I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one 'race' - the human race - and that we are all members of it.” – Margaret Atwood – Canadian Author – (b. 1939).

  • "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa – Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary – Sainted by Catholic Church – (1910 – 1997).

  • “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness – spiritual leader Tibet – (b. 1935).

  • “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything – American author – (b.1969)

Take away

  • Practice Compassion, Love and Humanity – heal this world and your own world.

  • Practice mitfreude, the active wishing of good-will to other people – connect.

  • We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We all have the same basic needs and concerns. We all want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals. That is human nature.

  • Also, try yoga, along with meditation – a natural combination for overall well-being.


Compiled by Baz Shirley.

Contact:

barryshirley@iprimus.com.au

*See also: bazabstractart.redbubble.com

Instagram: @bazabstractart - Facebook: Barry Shirley

And all my previous posts on: mumbojumbonews.com*

38 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All