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Week of Compassion | Lightwaves
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Week of Compassion

November 19, 2009 by Sandra Hindson
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Temple-3On Sunday, November 8th Yasodhara Ashram initiated a week of focused celebration to mark the launch of the Charter for Compassion.  In the company of other Radha Centres in the United States, Canada and individuals both here and all over the world, there was a joining of hands bringing compassion into the forefront of our minds.

The long awaited Charter was released Wednesday night and shared with the world the next morning. It is a  finely drafted document resulting in a potent message with the intention of retrieving the Golden Rule.   The Ashram celebrated the launch with an early morning offering and a week of Satsangs dedicated to the topic of compassion, some of which will be available on video over the next month. Read reflections on Compassion by both residents and a young adult.   Also watch a video of our early morning launch event with excerpts from Swami Sivananda’s Satsang talk and audio recordings of mantra chanting of several faith traditions.  Namaste.

Temple-2On the morning of November 12th, our Ashram community met in the Temple of Divine Light at 7:00 a.m., with our coats and slippers, to walk in procession, carrying a candle representing our individual Light of compassion. We walked through each of the 8 doors of the Temple chanting the mantras of several religious traditions.   In a climactic moment,  Lynn Fairey came to the altar to read the Charter for Compassion. (Click here to  read the Charter of Compassion and/or to watch the video.)  Swami Jyotihananda shared her experience of that moment with me: “When Lynn stepped forward and read the Charter I felt a great sense of hopefulness. It is simple, direct, something I have known since I was a child.  My teacher Swami Radha always said, ‘practicing consideration is the key,’ this is the Golden Rule.” We then invoked the Light (For instructions on practicing the Divine Light Invocation, Click Here) and there was a feeling of Light and space that permeated the day and we were all lifted by the message of hope.

Lynn Fairey shared her reflections from the week focused on compassion:

The morning in the Temple where we gathered to sing mantras and songs from many traditions was uplifting and felt like a culmination of all the focus that had been happening over the previous months all over the world.  I felt like something caught fire that morning as other people joined in to celebrate. The memory of our coming together in the Temple lingers on and helps me to remember that the most important aspect of this whole exercise is to put Compassion to work in daily life.  In my reflections I better understand what a discipline acting in a Compassionate way is.  The work I do on myself is what helps me know what acting out of Compassion looks like.  It helps me to be clear and act from this place.  Compassion involves an open heart; a vulnerability which goes against the needy part in me that is focused on survival of the familiar.  It is an invitation to change. The Divine Light Invocation is a practice of Compassion.  It joins the inner and the outer Light and shows me that we all are made of the same stuff and can meet in the One Light where there are no differences.

The inspiration of the day continued throughout the week.  Satsangs offered each night by the Ashram residents were personal and uplifting.  Swami Sivananda spoke about the compassion of Swami Radha who wielded the sword of compassion to cut through the mental/emotional obstacles his wife was encountering in her battle with cancer. A different flavour of compassion than most of us are used to, one that calls on the inner courage and awareness of the teacher.  Swami Radha Krishnananda spoke about Patanjali’s sutras and how they are related to both healing and compassion. She highlighted her talk with her own experience of healing with Parkinson’s disease.  Swami Samayananda shared a moving story of a woman held hostage for 3 years and how over time she developed deep compassion for her captors. Deborah Pohorski  spoke of her experience of healing and Charles Green shared his experience of kindness exemplified by his interactions with Swami Radha.

Tara-1 I spoke with Tara Courage (Sylvia Boss) who has been living at the Ashram since June of this year sponsored by the Young Adult Program. She has just completed the 7 Days of Yoga and emerged with a new name.  I was curious to hear from her what inspired her to change her name and her experience of compassion during the workshop.  Here is what she had to say:

When I closed my eyes and really heard what Karen Armstrong was saying, it really connected with something in me.  It connected to a lot of beliefs that I have about the world and I think a lot of people of my generation share, that we’ve got to reverse the direction we are going so that we don’t fall off the cliff.  Compassion is learning to treat others the way that they would want to be treated, and to me, that’s the deepest spiritual practice there is, because it involves going into every aspect of myself and bringing understanding and love to those areas.  From this place, I can relate to everyone, fully.

What has your experience been with compassion over the last 7 days?

I was inspired by the Satsang Rebecca Dale gave, who said that to her the Dalai Lama “is the embodiment of Compassion.” A coat that her brother brought back to her from Dharamsala that when she wore it brought compassion to the forefront of her mind.  This is where the idea germinated; that a name, a name people call me by is a constant reminder. Now when someone calls me Tara,  I am reminded to exhibit those qualities embodied in the Divine Mother of Compassion. I know the feeling that I have when I’m not living up to my potential. I know there are states of mind that I am in where I’m weak or giving into someone else’s power, or I’m not being my true Self. Since I decided to change my name to Tara, I am checking myself and calling myself back to my intention: to embody compassion for myself, which means fully realizing all the aspects of myself so that they can relate harmoniously to one another with Love, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding. Then I can radiate those same qualities outwards, because it all starts within. It’s been a good beginning.

The week ended with Sunday morning chanting in the Temple with a reflection from Mantras: Words of Power.  Swami Radha asks, “How does one develop compassion?” She says “Observe yourself; practice awareness in order to gain understanding of yourself.  Wrong conduct must be discarded, not condemned.  When you see and forgive your own failings, you will be ready to forgive the failings of others and have more understanding for those you wish to heal. In the process of healing, we meet ourselves.” So as the week came to a close I was left with the question: “What do I need to forgive in myself?” As soon as I asked this, memories from the past began to emerge-times in my life when I had not been open and honest with others creating pain.  Practicing coming forward with another is an act of compassion both for myself and for the other person, bringing in the Light of understanding.

I leave you with the Mantra for the Svadhisthana Cakra from Kundalini Yoga for the West:

In the Svadhisthana of yours I praise Him as Samvarta forever happy in the form of fire, O Mother and also Samaya, the great one.  When His glance filled with great anger consumes the world, it is Her glance dripping with compassion that makes this cool (soothing) service.

To hear some of audio recordings of the different mantras we chanted on Thursday, you may click their names below.  We chanted a Hebrew, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Cree mantra/prayer, weaving in and out giving space to the vibration of each.

Hari Om

Kuan Yin Pusa

Om Tara Tuttare

Rouach


As part of our initiative to increase the compatibility and accessibility of our content, we have formatted this video to a widescreen aspect ratio that is friendly to most mobile devices and widescreen computer monitors. In order to post longer, higher quality content, we have begun hosting videos like this one on our server. If you would like to donate to the Yasodhara Ashram Society click here.


3 Comments »

  1. Thank you for a totally inspiring summary of the Ashram’s week of Compassion. My hope is for this ideal to come ever-more alive in my thoughts, speech and actions. The example you all offer from the Ashram surely is influencing change, even in small and unknown ways, throughout the world.
    With gratitude, Om Om
    Terri

    Comment by Terri — November 25, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

  2. What a wonderful event that must have been. I would love to have been part of that. Thank you, Sandra, for sharing it with those of us who could not be there.

    Carol

    Comment by Carol Collier — November 27, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  3. This is one awesome article. Awesome.

    Comment by Imanol Ahn — February 19, 2012 @ 1:55 am

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