Wars begin in the minds of man, and in those minds, love and compassion would have built the defenses of peace. — U Thant
So lets begin by comparing these two simple words. For those of you who follow this blog, you will know that I define “Kindness” as doing something for someone else, with no thought of repayment or recognition. It is easy to see how someone would immediately compare this with compassion. So what is my definition for “Compassion?” Compassion means to “STRUGGLE TOGETHER”. Now this may not sound like a lot of fun, but it is the true essence of my definition. Being kind is a trait that we should always display. There should always be a smile on our face, we should be friendly to everyone we meet, and leave others with a sense of happiness that lingers, long after we leave. Compassion is a much deeper commitment. Compassion means to seek out those who are struggling, roll up our sleeves, and get our hands dirty, helping them. Compassion means opening our hearts and becoming vulnerable. It is more than just a simple donation to an unknown person. It is looking the ones we are helping, in the eyes, and feeling their pain.
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now that we have a definition, lets look at how this can make an impact in those around you. Last night we had a lady come in for class. She makes it to class about once per month and doesn't seem to learn anything, when she is there. Many of the students hardly know her and view her as a student who will never make it to black belt. So why do I mention this, and why is she important? First, her and I have been friends / training partners for the last 20 years. She has always had the desire to accomplish her goal of black belt, but has never managed it yet. As I have known for years, she suffers from several medical issues that prevent her from being an active participant in class. Her disorder has also caused brain damage which results in memory loss. So imagine a student who has been training with her form, everyday in preparation for belt testing, then wakes up one day, and it is gone. Completely gone, to the point that she has to start over from scratch again. Hopefully everyone can immediately see why this is important.
But if we have the energy of compassion and loving kindness in us, the people around us will be influenced by our way of being and living. - Thich Nhat Hanh
So, now that we are aware of this, as compassionate martial artists, what should we do? How do we, as random students help her? What can her training partners do? Although overwhelming, the answer is simple, we must show her compassion. We should take up her struggle, right along side her, and go out of our way to help her. This may mean using code words, that can help stimulate her memory. This may mean volunteering to hold a bag so she can get in extra reps, and build muscle memory. It means becoming her friend and learning how to look for the signs, and then searching for the key to prevent her issues, before they occur. And most of all, we need to be understanding of her condition and give her the love and support that she needs to build her self-confidence and realize that her dream is within reach. We should also strive to help her know that we are all behind her giving all of the support that she needs to succeed.
No man is a true believer unless he desireth for his brother that which he desireth for himself - Muhammad
This is one example, but I want all of my students to understand how many other opportunities exist. So far, I have only discussed one young lady, but everyone knows someone in need. If a student is struggling at school, befriend them and offer to tutor them. If an elderly neighbor is having health issues, offer to mow their lawn, or help clean their house, carry in groceries, or simply sit and talk with them to help with loneliness. If someone is in a bad relationship, offer to be there when they need to talk or offer a shoulder to cry on, when the need arises. If someone is being bullied, offer to bring them to class. Help them to understand that they aren't alone, and you are there to show them another path.
While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary. - Chinua Achebe
Always remember, a warrior is not the one who seeks out fights. A warrior is the one who stands between the fight and the ones we love. A true warrior isn't hateful. They are caring and aware of the needs of others. A warrior understands that not every fight is fought with hands and feet, some fights are fought with the mind and heart. Part of our path, is showing compassion to those in need and leaving a legacy for others to follow.
Out of compassion I destroy the darkness of their ignorance. From within them I light the lamp of wisdom and dispel all darkness from their lives. — Bhagavad Gita