Throughout history, the question has dogged beggars and philosophers alike—why are we here? What are we here to learn? What is the greatest thing that we can learn while we are on this Earth? In this body?
The answers depend upon what corner of the church we face and what God we ask them of. I am no philosopher nor do I propose to know the answer to one of Life’s greatest questions, and I don’t propose to know more than I’ve learned. Even then, I really know nothing. Not truly.
But then there came this.
One morning, sitting in stillness, the questions, the thoughts, the “what if”’s fell away and for the first time were replaced by a knowing and a feeling of undeniable truth. Surreal and yet sacred in its delivery, the questions and answers came without hesitation. The moment had been waiting and I was ready to finally listen.
What is the most important thing we can learn in our lifetime?
Without compassion, the love we feel for another will still have attachments and conditions.
Without compassion, the forgiveness our lips speak does not match the anger, hurt, and resentment still in our heart.
Without compassion, the understanding we have for the other person will still depend on their skin color and faith.
Without compassion, the peace that we fight for is nothing but murder and an excuse.
So how do we find compassion? Through suffering. Without personal suffering, there is no compassion. Suffering is more than having “bad” things happen to you. Suffering is going through a situation that is negative or unpleasant but it’s also the opportunity to take the situation from cries of “Why me?” to something that will forever deepen our understanding of others and our own reactions.
No one can know how they’ll feel or react in a situation unless they’ve been in it. Anything outside of that is just an opinion. To have compassion for anyone else means walking through your own fires first.
The importance of compassion is one of the key teachings in Buddhism. It is also one of the key teachings in learning to be fully human. No one is above suffering but we don’t need to perpetuate the feelings of suffering from what we are suffering from.
Trying to find something to watch on television the other night and looking for the next thing to graze on as we channel surfed, I wondered why I was looking for more—more entertainment, more food. Why was I feeling so insatiable and not just about TV and food? I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.
On the whole, we have become insatiable in our food, entertainment, and possessions and have become a group of voyeuristic zombies constantly seeking to become fulfilled with the latest he said she said he wore she’s dating gossip. Why do we care? I know I really don’t but I keep going back. I keep going back to my email, feeling insatiable that I may have missed something someone said. I keep finding ways of making and saving money because I feel insatiable in my fear that there is never enough.
We have become insatiable in almost every corner of our lives from feeling that there is never enough of well, everything from food (just look at the increase in portion sizes) to activities (how much after school activities can we cram in for our kids or for that matter, after work and weekends for us adults?). Some would call it greed, but I think it’s more than that. I think we are searching to fulfill a need.
When did we start chasing our own tails looking to fulfill that need and, what exactly isthat need? I got tired of always looking for the next whatever and so I started asking myself, why. Why do I feel insatiable with food today? Ah, I’m really bored or I’m feeling fidgety. Why do I feel insatiable about not having enough downtime? Ah, I stayed up late watching that movie on Netflicks last night, and well the night before was a new episode of NCIS, and I agreed to write another article for that magazine.
I realized that on a deep level I was using all these thing to try to fill areas in my life that I was unhappy with. I clearly saw that I was causing my own distractions and insatiable feelings, which were being driven by a need for simplicity and a craving for life choices that were more aligned with my soul and not my ego. In order for me to take this deeper, I had to drill down with bare bones honesty toward myself about myself in my head and my heart to get to this point of recognition and it wasn’t always pretty but the results and realizations are now at least true.
What are we trying to fulfill? What is insatiable for you and why? Taking it deeper one breath at a time.