There are two types of compassion: pity-compassion and love-compassion. What is the main difference from these two types of compassion? Could there be more types?
What is Pity-Compassion?
You actually are gaining something from your “good actions”. Your state of mind is not of pure attention toward the other and yourself. For example instead of listening deeply to the others’ real needs, you do what you deem is compassionate without actually observing the what is happening to your surroundings.
This is the type of compassion that makes you feel good if you do “good”, a type of goodness that represents an actual projection of your own beliefs.
For example, you will only give to those who you believe are in need because your perception of what is in need is limited within your concept of “who should or should not need”. I believe that a poor person should need something I “have”, so I give him money or “something”. I believe that sad person should need happiness, so I make a joke.
Can you see that pattern here? It is not actually about who is needing and their understandings of life, but about what you believe they should need based on your own biased experiences that does not attend others’ reality.
We are taught that this type of compassion is actually good, but what is the use of compassion if you are not really understanding its depth?
Of course, there is some sort of benefit. If a person is crying, and your actions do provoke an actual visible change that might actually benefit, but not because of your intentions but because of your passionate attention toward others.
It is this true devotion and attention to the other where love-compassion lies.
What is Love-Compassion?
You cannot gain anything because it is not about your “beliefs”, but about actually observing and listening deeply to the other. It is in this state of pure awareness where one actually listens or pays attention that true compassion can occur.
Your state of mind is in the present. It is not worried about the past or the future, but about doing what is possible now. You actions are full of love because your perception is open to the other.
This might sound radical, but in fact it is a process to learn how to become compassionate. You might start trying to be compassionate due to your own beliefs of who might need your help, but as you become more aware of the facts that surround you… Your approach to other’s pain is much more conscious.
Let’s give an example:
You see a man in the street, and at first it might seem that if you give money to him you are being love-compassionate. Well, if you do believe that to give money is love-compassionate you are wrong.
Why? If you had paid closer attention to him you would have seen that he had a bottle of vodka peeking under his jacket. You could have smelt his alcoholic breath, and you would have understood that a man who is drunk might as well be an alcoholic.
The money you could have given him would have promoted a state of deeper depression within that man asking for your “compassion”.
However what would have happened if instead of giving him money, you asked him if why was he living in the street? Could that act be of love-compassion? What if by asking sincerely for the well being of this person, he realizes there is something worth living for?
Can you distinguish the difference between pity-compassion and love-compassion?
Pity-compassion is about imposing yourself on others. It is about your beliefs and thoughts being imposed in the other one who might be asking for “compassion” through any mode of expression: sadness, explicit, anger, etc.
Love-compassion is about caring so much that you actually pay attention, listen, and observe the other person deeply.
Sometimes the most compassionate act of love is actually not saying or doing anything, but actually caring deeply and waiting for the precise moment to act. You do not act when you are ready, but when the other person is actually paying attention as well. Sometimes to be an example is far more compassionate than to just say a few words…
Each person must find their own balance, and their own ways to reach a state of constant love-compassion.
Sometimes, an act of pity-compassion is in fact the antechamber of love-compassion. Do not follow these ideas as a rule book, instead be flexible and use it as a guide. I might be wrong. My intention is to expand your awareness to the fact that our beliefs of what is compassion might not be in the right track.
Sometimes it is better become aware and devote your attention to others, than to give money to the ones who seem to be “poor”. It is in attention where radical change lies, not in a mere economic “enhancement”.
Sometimes our beliefs are the ones who prevent us to actually listening to the other’s desperate but simple plea that might be shattered by our own self-contained thoughts.
The simple plea might be:
Please, accept me.
Please, don’t judge me.
Please, only love me.
Are you actually attentive?
Photo Credits: Hartwig HKD