“The principle of compassion is that which converts disillusionment into a participatory companionship. This is the basic love, the charity, that turns a critic into a living human being who has something to give to––as well as demand of––the world.”
-Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss
I stumbled across this quote while I was reading some tributes on Facebook about a member of one of my communities that recently passed away. It’s funny, but I hadn’t talked to this man in a really long time nor had I seen him in possibly a couple of years. What I remember about him was that every time I saw him he was kind to me, compassionate, always knew what I was up to and would engage with me to find out how I was doing, all with a smile. I even had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of group coaching sessions he ran, and I found them relevant and enjoyable no matter what degree of personal growth work each person attending had already done. He also helped me in a time when I was really struggling with finding compassion and forgiveness for a person and a situation I found myself in almost a decade ago. Hearing the news of his death, brought back this memory as I saw others writing similar stories along the lines of he helped me, he was always available, he had words of wisdom, he had compassion and friendliness.
The timing on finding this quote he had posted on his page, prior to his death, couldn’t have been more impeccable because I was sitting on my back porch yesterday explaining to someone, “Man, I really try to have kindness and compassion at all times to the best of my ability but this really pushes me to dig deeper to try to find it.”
The key to that last paragraph is the digging deeper part. In the coaching work I do in HR and the counseling work I do with individuals and couples, I advise in situations of conflict for the other person to stay curious, to ask the question of the other, “What is it like to be you?” Because what I often find is that when I can start thinking about what it’s like to be that person, I can not only begin to resolve the conflict but also come to understand myself more completely.
Sometimes it takes a loss of someone who aimed to live well and treat others well to remind us to ask ourselves if we are living well. So I do ask myself can I dig deeper, can I keep trying to understand this other, can I continue on my own path of personal growth and correction of my own intellect so that I may know a deeper peace, a deeper sense of humanity and connection? I hope the answer continues to be yes.