Compassion is a metaphor……What?…OK…a metaphor holds two incompatible ideas together like a battery holds positive and negative poles. Just as the battery generates energy, makes contained energy available, metaphor makes compassion a felt energy. If you don’t feel the energy of compassion, you don’t have compassion. Compassion is a living energy, not an idea of energy, something to be attained.
What are the poles or polarity of compassion? Joy and Sorrow. This is a polarity of opposite ideas and feelings. We like to separate pleasure from pain. That is the American Way. Buy pleasure, avoid pain. Compassion is not pleasure or pain; compassion is pleasure/pain. That is ambiguous. Which is it? If you say pleasure, you are wrong. If you say pain, you are wrong. Compassion is a Zen Koan. The leap that transcends the polarity the Zen Koan is a metaphor.
Compassion is authentic passion. We recognize it when we see it because we feel it. A 28 year-old woman in Queens just defeated an entrenched Democrat because she has compassion. Compassion is the felt suffering of others, but where does the joy come from? Just feeling the sorrow has no joy. But having joy with no sorrow is not compassion either. The gin of the martini must have at least a trace of vermouth, the wine of sorrow.
The joy happens when you realize the Truth of Buddha that all life is sorrowful. There is no escape. All life is Loss, a letting go of what you value, and the last thing of value is one’s sense of separate self that seeks joy without the sorrow. The joy in the sorrow and the sorrow in the joy leap forth when you realize through and through that you can’t separate the gin from the vermouth. Then life becomes an elixir of the Holy Grail.
Compassion is creativity. When you use a battery, you have energy to turn on a light. Creativity is a light. Compassion give you Awareness Energy, energy that not only knows what to do, but is the energy of doing itself. Compassion is Knowing and Doing as the same action. Compassion does not divide time into Now and future. Compassion does not seek a future without pain because compassion contains the pain of life and mixes it with the joy of being free from pain, which is caused by being separate from life through time. Our avoidance of pain and sorrow creates our pain and sorrow. Compassion is the end of avoidance.