Today, I will talk about compassion, because that was the topic of the latest meeting at TrueTao.org. I am not talking about the emotional state that many refer to as compassion, but to the deep concern that one may feel for others. I feel like I'm a natural at feeling compassion for others, even for animals, but this does not hold true to compassion for myself.
Compassion insists that you leave ego and competitiveness behind. This has always been a big struggle for me. When I compete, I want to win, and tend to take it badly when I don't. I've seen this about myself, and have tried to adjust my behavior, so people will still want to "play" with me. I have a better reason for that adjustment now, though. I see that by labeling myself as a winner, labels another as a loser, and that's not what I really want. I never see those I beat as losers, so why, am I so insistent when I lose to call myself a loser?
Another problem I have is admitting when I'm wrong. I know that I am a smart individual, and tend to base my conclusions on solid evidence. But when faced with an argument I am not prepared for, I tend to panic and retreat from the conversation rather than consider this new perspective. In recent years, I have gotten good at considering it after the fact, but still have trouble controlling my immediate defensiveness at discovering I'm wrong.
Accepting others, including their flaws is a part of compassion. But there is also a need to show that compassion to yourself. I know I'm not perfect, so why should I react so defensively when I discover I'm wrong? I feel it is out of a desire to appear perfect. But then one must define what it means to appear perfect, and realize that not everyone will share the same interpretation. An answer that one person finds arrogant and snarky, another may find sassy and endearing.
So for me it all boils down to seeking external validation. If I accept myself and my lack of knowledge, the defensiveness can disappear. If I am kind and compassionate in all of my dealings with both others and with myself, I can rest peacefully knowing that I am cultivating the Tao.