Compassion may be experienced in one’s silent witness to the suffering of another individual or group. This kind of compassion resists turning away or avoiding unpleasant or disturbing events and involves taking in a felt sense of others’ pain and suffering. That is how compassion begins to be cultivated, as a shared sense of being, a connectedness with all others as well as with all life forms.
A deep joy is felt at witnessing the end of others’ suffering, not necessarily an intense joy, but a joy that seems to expand the space between the atoms, molecules and cells of one’s own body. One feels more expansive, as if chains around one’s heart had been broken.
Compassion comes easiest for people of the same cultural background, with the same sensibilities about life, the same customs and habits of living. When we see someone suffering from the same misfortune that we have experienced, compassion is more likely to arise than if we have not been through that experience and not been raised in the same cultural and social context in which it arises. When we suspend judgement of others and focus on understanding the nature of the conflicts that are integral to their suffering, we come to the place of compassion more easily.
In the end, compassion is about making friends. Friendships persevere through both joy and pain, happiness and suffering. And that is where compassion, which means suffering with, has the opportunity to mature into a universal caring for all living beings. But one must continually step outside one’s comfort zone to tend the garden of compassion.
Neighbors Connect is a forum for tending the garden of compassion, and looking out for one another in our very own neighborhoods. To this end, Friends of the Family Projects will be the primary vehicle in which we come together in order to tend to the needs of families, and especially single parent families. The first project is currently being organized and hopefully will appear soon on this website.
These projects will need a variety of talents and expertise. If you are interested in contributing to the development of this first project, click on “Contact” at the far right of the menu above and drop us a line.