Posted on Sep 29, 2016 | 0 comments

CULTIVATING COMPASSION

Part of the preparatory work of Elul—as we recite the Thirteen Attributes of Compassion—is to examine how compassionate we are in our own actions.

Elul is a month when God’s compassion is flowing. But to tap into this flow of compassion, you must reach up from below to channel it down in your direction.

This is the secret of Ani l’dodi, “I am for my beloved”—I take initiative, I show that I am for my beloved, rather than waiting for my beloved to make a move.

It is true that God told Moses  (Exodus 33:19): “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show compassion to whom I will show compassion.” Therefore, sometimes you can experience God’s compassion without having done anything yourself. But you can’t expect it. You still have to do your part.

As compassionate as you may be now you can always be more compassionate. (As they say, if good is good, is better not better?) Compassion is a trait that can be cultivated—you become compassionate when you act compassionately.

Make no mistake, as people often do in the Western world—compassion doesn’t mean that you look the other way and ignore crimes committed against you or others; compassion is not a contradiction of justice. It is true that forgiveness is part of compassion, but compassion is a great deal more than that.

First, compassion means being sensitive to another person’s soul; it requires remembering that each one of us—however coarse and imperfect we may be on the outside—is endowed with a perfect Divine soul on the inside. And second, compassion means transcending our own comfort zone out of love for another.

Ask yourself:  How sensitive are you to the souls of others? Do you see the Divine soul in others? Exercise for the day:

– Identify what it would mean for you to transcend your comfort zone for the sake of compassion. – Reach out in compassion to someone whose Divine soul you have a hard time seeing. – Recreate day two of creation, by reviewing whether you have healthy boundaries in your life.

from the Book – 60 Days of Spiritual Journey which can be purchased at Meaningful Life

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