The Flowering of Compassion and Contentment
In every day life, murder, manslaughter, homicide and all forms of victimization, involve two or more persons – an offender and a victim. When you enter the world of the soul, the entire prospective of criminology changes. Here, we all are criminals and agents of self-victimization. Essentially, the mind is the offender and the soul becomes the victim. The mind poisons the soul and thus, becomes a hindrance in one’s spiritual journey. Clarity of the elements, which damage the soul, is ideal on the pathway to salvation. Until we attain this deeper understanding, we will remain criminals forever.
Many fruits blossom within one’s heart, as one acquires spiritual wisdom and a deeper understanding of life. Among these, is the blossoming of compassion and contentment.
ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਦਇਆ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ
gur updaysh da-i-aa santokh.
Compassion and contentment sprout by listening, obeying and applying the Guru’s teachings in one’s life.
(Page 1152, Line 11 – Guru Arjan Dev Ji)
However, our animalistic tendencies, which have accumulated in the mind from previous lives, act as a barrier, preventing the enhancement of compassion and contentment within.
We consider that sharing food with the needy or assisting those in need, is an act of compassion. However, the meaning of compassion is much deeper than what we presently perceive it to be. Compassion, first and foremost, is a feeling directed towards the Atmaa, the Self. Understanding the concept of loving-kindness towards the Self is ideal for spiritual development. The soul is delicate and fragile like a small child; therefore, compassion towards the self is essential for the spiritual aspirant.
A clear understanding of compassion sprouts as one realizes that the soul has been imprisoned in various life forms, for example, as a snake, a mountain, a tree, an animal, for millions and millions of years. Embodiment into the human life is the soul’s golden opportunity to align itself with the Pure Consciousness, to realize its true potentiality and essentially merge back into its origin. Those individuals who do not attain this union, cause immense pain, suffering and misery to the Self. The individual who ruins his soul is the greatest butcher in the world.
ਆਤਮ ਘਾਤੀ ਹੈ ਜਗਤ ਕਸਾਈ
aatam ghaatee hai jagat kasaa-ee.
Those who neglect their Soul are the assassins of the self and the butchers of the world.
(Page 118, Line 6 – Guru Amar Das Ji)
It is through the lack of concern towards the soul that we cause immense damage. For instance, if we say to our loved ones that we do not have time for them, there is no greater pain we can inflict. Similarly, when we show disregard towards our soul, we inflict great pain upon it, preventing the joy and exultation of our own spirit.
How do we damage our spirit? How do we poison, frustrate and make our soul sick? By doing the things, which are opposite to the genuine nature of the soul, which can be simply said to be animalistic tendencies. In every situation we encounter, we are constantly being instructed and guided through the voice of the soul. Unfortunately, the most ignored voice in our lives is the voice of the spirit. As we continue to ignore the inner voice, it becomes so dim to the point where we can no longer hear it.
The soul is in harmony with the principles of the universe. The order of everything in God’s creation is harmonized with the principle of detachment. For instance, leaves fall off in the autumn and a flower withers away in the evening. Similarly the soul is free from attachment. Only the mind becomes attached, not only to materialistic belongings, but also to other people, in which it starts controlling and possessing. The soul does not control, and when it is controlled, it feels trapped and suffocates. The genuine nature of the soul is love. Love is freedom.
The soul’s nature is bountiful and boundless. It feels an abundance of everything and is never in shortage. Only the mind is insecure and feels a sense of shortage. Only the mind thinks that one has to keep on saving and accumulating the wealth. The soul and everything else in the entire universe has the attribute of existing in abundance. Hence, our soul becomes damaged when we live our life according to the nature of the mind. These elements are opposite to our soul’s intrinsic nature, and thus lead to numerous types of illnesses, as it is the energy of the soul that underlies all physical and mental ailments.
Contentment also blossoms to great depths through the awareness of the soul. We commonly perceive contentment to pertain towards money and other material wealth. Yet, the full spectrum of contentment touches many aspects of our daily life. A simple example would be the amount we speak. How much of our speech is truly necessary and how much is just downright unnecessary? Contentment basically means, “no more than this is necessary.” It is a sense of completeness, fulfillment, as well as gratitude towards everything in life.
In one’s spiritual journey, a necessary practice in order to attain a peaceful state of mind is to reduce the tendency to speak unnecessarily. Such practice is extremely fruitful in silencing the mind, which is always swimming in external thoughts. As a result, the alignment of the soul within one’s awareness occurs and one gains a sense of empowerment, in which a deep sense of contentment is felt. Through constant hammering, gradually the mind begins to quiet. The mind loses in defeat and the peaceful nature of the soul takes over. The truly victorious people are those who engage in a fierce battle with their minds, and since it is weak, it ultimately loses.
Another diligent practice is to limit the variety in our life. We have so much variety in our eating and our clothes. Bringing one’s life down to simplicity is imperative in order to discipline the mind and beautify the soul. One becomes an ocean of compassion through exercising contentment in every activity he pursues, which includes being extremely watchful in eating, speaking, sleeping and dressing. Fulfillment in one’s heart enables the individual to pursue every activity through simplicity and complete awareness.
In essence, a life of simplicity beautifies the soul. Beauty shines through the eyes, the voice and one’s presence becomes so enlightening and provides comfort to others. The energy of the soul is infused into every aspect of one’s life. As a result, one remains composed, joyful and experiences the exuberance of the spirit. Such is the fruit of compassion and contentment towards the Self.