I was born and raised Jewish, but do not currently practice.
Later in life I found yoga and I am currently a practicing yogi.
Within one single and sad week, both of these practices were targeted by anger, hatred and fear, leading to incomprehensible suffering.
Both of these practices teach a strong adherence to compassion. To truly be compassionate to others is held in the highest regard and when that fundamental concept is challenged, that is when even more compassion is needed. We put love and understanding energies out into the world with no expectations, not because we are told to, because we know in our hearts it is the right thing to do.
A Hebrew term for compassion rahamanut, is derived from the term rehem, meaning ‘womb’. Thus compassion, in Judaism, can be translated as having the same love for others that a mother would have for her child, or that siblings may have for one another who have shared the same womb.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he describes ashtanga, an eight-limbed path to a complete and enlightened yogi. The very first limb, the Yamas, are practices for living ethically with others on your journey through this life and this world. Of the 5 Yamas, the very first one is known as Ahimsa, meaning non-harming or compassion.
Ahimsa is the practice of seeing ourselves in every living being, projecting the love, caring and forgiveness that we have for ourselves into others. We connect with others, in all of their non-perfected and flawed states as we should show compassion to ourselves.
“In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.” – The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sutra II.35
True compassion is not an easy path. This is why it is a practice. To look at others with loving hearts and caring eyes, regardless of their actions may be one of the hardest practices we can endure. But it must be done, whole-heartedly and unapologetically, for our humanity depends on it.
At this crossroads in our society we do not have a choice. We must instill the practice of compassion into our children, we must scream it from the rooftops and most importantly, we must make every effort to practice it individually every single day from our hearts.
We can choose to lift one another up, to support one another and to be truly empathetic to the challenges that we all face every single day.
We can perform actions every single day that connect us with others and let others know that we are there for them and we understand them and we love them. We must eradicate the idea of perfection and replace it with the belief that being flawed is the new perfection. We must practice true acceptance and forgiveness of one another. This is compassion.
From the same womb, we practice seeing one another as brothers or sisters and instill the same love in them we must show to ourselves.