We typically think we lack compassion or the capacity for unconditional love. We want to define it, learn it, teach it, or acquire it, but none of us lacks it in the least. We are simply unaware of the compassion we possess, preoccupied by the judgmental thinking that darkens our hearts with fear, greed, and anger. When we quiet our thoughts through meditation, we finally see the truth about ourselves. This kind of seeing is called “waking up,” like waking up first thing in the morning before your headed is clouded by even a single distraction.
The awakened mind has two natural attributes. One is compassion, what some would call love. The other is clarity, what some would call sight. They are not really two things. Each is a function of the other. When you see, really see, you just love. When you love, really love, you just see. You see things as they are, not as you expect, and in that wide-open clarity is love.
This is the kind of love that everyone wants, the kind that everything needs. It is love at first sight, unconditioned by definitions or demands. Nothing can come in between the pure seeing – not even a hairbreadth of difference, judgment, or hesitation, not the filter of so-called understanding or an extra layer of elaboration – just the streaming of light unhindered by thoughts.
Rightly realized, compassion is not an idea or a feeling. It’s not an intention or even a certain kind of action. It is palpable state of oneness: effortless, complete, peaceful, pleasing, happy, and alive. When you live in compassion, you instantly transmit it to everything and everyone you encounter. You give care where it is needed, and you withhold the anger and judgment that is not needed. The entire universe is filled with the compassion you alone bring to it. This is reason enough to sit down for a while.
Karen Mazen Miller
Author, Zen teacher and Copper Beech Institute guest faculty
Karen Maezen Miller will be leading the Beginner’s Mind Zen retreat at Copper Beech Institute, April 17-19, 2015. Space is limited. Details and Registration: https://www.copperbeechinstitute.org/mind-zen