Compassion: Insights From the Anusara Teachers Gathering

It seems I continue to process insights from the Anusara Gathering of Certified Teachers, who met in North Carolina last week.

As I mentioned in several previous posts, one of the highlights of the week was the opportunity to listen to and share with Dr. Bill Mahoney, an expert on Vedic literature and studies at Davidson College. In his main presentation, he addressed the topic of grace, and then went into refinements of grace, ending with his explanation on the various aspects of compassion, which I would like to share here, because it is both insightful and relevant to many of us.

Bill Mahoney observed, that there are four refinements of grace. These are:

1. Karuna - benevolent compassion.
2. Kripa - grace as as a bestowal or active embracing.
3. Anugraha - a sense of grace that is is supportive and has both descending and infusive qualities.
4. Bhodana - moments of awakening which are nothing more and nothing less than the benevolence of grace enfolding you.

Bill then proceeded to explain how there are three parts or aspects to compassion, and that all three are necessary components to living compassionately:

1. First of all, place yourself as authentically as you can in the position of the other person's situation. Then ask yourself, and reflect on such questions as: What are the vectors in the other person's life? What is their karma or duty? Try to put yourself in their shoes and see their situation from their perspective.

2. The next step is to do this same thing with yourself. What is my situation? What are my intentions - my biases, and my karma? We need to be aware of our own insecurities - otherwise the tendency will be to work them out in the other person. This is a form of self-inquiry that is both important and necessary.

3. When we have reflected on the two preceding points, we are ready to consider what a yogic perspective or practice can contribute to the situation and we implement this practice. What is it that I can say or do in this situation, so that this person and I can come closer to God? What can I do - so that I can lessen the suffering of the other person and myself? What can I say or do that will lead to a greater awakening on both of our parts?


So, yesterday, I found myself becoming very angry at a situation that seemed very manipulative to me, and somewhat out of my control. But this morning, after a good night's sleep, I remembered these points and went back to my notes to review them. I found, as I reflected on these questions and applied them, I began to soften. I began to see that my perspective wasn't the only way of seeing things. I began to get an insight into why the person in question was behaving in the manner that irritated me, and I realized it was based on a sense of fear, and an inability to really act or connect in any other way...

Bill was quick to point out, that if all three of these aspects are not considered, you don't really have compassion. Instead, what you have is sympathy.

In a very real sense, what we are doing by reflecting in this manner and engaging in this process - is nothing more and nothing less - than "Opening to Grace." As John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga, wisely observed, after Bill shared these points with us, when we open to Grace, we make space. We do not avoid the difficult questions or situations - but create an environment to invite a sparkling fullness.

I have much to apply and ponder, but then - life is a journey - is it not? We never quite arrive...


Kate said…
thanks you!
working on this at present and your clarity is very helpful
Olga Rasmussen said…
Thanks Kate! Am obviously working on this issue too! More to follow!

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