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Radha Centres on Compassion

December 8, 2009 by Sandra Hindson

part of the groupTwo weeks ago the Yasodhara Ashram community, Radha Centres and individuals around the world honored the historic release of a Charter for Compassion, initiated by Karen Armstrong.  Radha Centres wrote us to share their events and inspired reflections.  Read how the Comox Centre integrated compassion as a focus in meetings with their community.  Radha Centre Calgary teamed up with another yoga studio hosting a Satsang to celebrate the launch and Faith Hayflich shares her bookclub event-sharing the nourishment of compassion with each other .  Ottawa, Spokane and Nanaimo also share their heartfelt event offering.

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Arlene Trustham, from the Comox Radha Centre wrote:

We’ve been using the Charter for Compassion in meetings and gatherings here at Creekside and in Radha classes.  It has been a very rich experience implementing it in a practical and real way.

The first of the events we hosted was a house concert held the day after the release of the Charter for Compassion, with Kula Kirtan, a three piece band who inspired us with devotional music and singing. I read the Charter that night and we dedicated our chanting to compassion in the world. The next day someone in the community copied it and read it in a particularly difficult meeting at Creekside.  Compassion was the ‘spiritual practice’ for a special council meeting to review our decision-making processes.

We’ve also been dealing with fears amongst some of our members in the community about recent incidents of graffiti and vandalism in a dark corner of our property near the park. Some have even suggested a perimeter fence and strong signage to keep out unwanted visitors. However, another idea has begun circulating to establish mental ‘Light’ gates at our entrances. Of course we’ll likely do some practical measures like adding light standards to the dark park area but I expect the Light gate will be as effective! It keeps us remembering compassion for these young graffiti artists.

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Wendy Blackmore from the Calgary Radha Centre wrote:


The Charter of Compassion Scroll

Forty people gathered for a special Satsang, offered at a local Yoga studio, Yogadotcalm to launch Karen Armstrong’s Charter of Compassion.

It was very much a group effort with the same spontaneity of Ashram celebrations. Each of the Radha Centre teachers participated in the various aspects of Satsang. There was a lively playing of bhajans and an introduction to the Divine Light Invocation. The room looked lovely with our addition of a mobile altar and flowering plants. A copy of the Charter for  Compassion was printed out and tied with a ribbon and distributed to all those in attendance.


Our altar at Yogadotcalm.

Divine Mother was with us, Tara the Goddess of Compassion graced the altar and we chanted Om Tara as the mantra. There was a reading from the Yoga of Healing, with Swami Radha’s reflections on “How do you become compassionate”

Afterward, a young woman spoke of finding comfort by browsing the Ashram website. For the moment, she couldn’t see her way to visiting there with the challenges of a young autistic son.  Time will tell. Surely it is time for this Charter for Compassion.  With the beacon of the Ashram lighting our way, we hope to be able to continue celebrating and pursuing Karen Armstrong’s “golden rule”.

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Evelyn Hadican writes about the Ottawa Radha Centre’s Satsang event:

In preparing for my Satsang on the theme of compassion, I turned to Swami Radha’s writings to learn more about what compassion is. In  her book, In the Company of the Wise, Swami Radha led me to understand that compassion means being with another person in their pain, without needing them to be different; acknowledging the dignity of another, their perspective and the choices they make, without taking them on as my own.  Compassion comes from a place of strength, not of indulgence. It is concern for the welfare of others regardless of my own desires.

I asked myself how I can develop compassion in my own life.  In Time to be Holy, Swami Radha informs me that I have to have made mistakes in order to develop compassion and that I need to discriminate clearly between sympathy and true compassion.

After the teaching, a bowl was passed around containing slips of paper with key sentences on compassion by Swami Radha and each participant took one of these seed thoughts and shared it with the group. We concluded with the Divine Light Invocation, taking in the Light of Compassion and offering it to the world.

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Swami Durgananda shares stories of Swami Radha's compassion

Jed Wagner and Sharon Wobker from the Spokane Radha Yoga Center wrote:

The keywords for our marketing  of this event was, “open, inviting, responding to what’s happening” gave birth to the Unity in Diversity event.  The event itself had a different energy.  We wanted to present “The Charter for Compassion” and asked that others present something of compassion from their experience, this allowed people to feel they could be themselves.  It really offers something for people to come together in this way.

The evening was highlighted by the relaxing music  of Bhajans offered throughout the eventing. The offerings were indeed diverse and heart felt.  We danced to  Divine Mother, poems and stories were shared, and a guided meditation led us through an evening of heartfelt devotion.  One participant spoke of his experience starting a compassion group at Eastern Washington University followed by a video of Karen Armstrong speaking about the Charter for Compassion. A thoughtful discussion followed.

The opportunity to gather and have a dialogue about compassion was something very special.  It seems we can be of great service that way.  Already, the “Compassionate Interfaith Society” a group from Eastern Washington University is considering a gathering at the Radha Center studio to honor the Charter for Compassion.  This would be an open invitation for  anyone to attend, creating more connections for the Centre.

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Faith Hayflich from Spokane wrote:

I met with my book group, a group of dynamic and creative women, some of whom have come to Radha Yoga classes at our Centre here in Spokane.

There’s an old Buddhist story about the difference between heaven and hell. There’s a long table filled with delectable dishes. In Hell people are sitting at the table, starving, because all the forks are too long and they can’t feed themselves. But in Heaven, they’re feeding each other.

So my book group met for a potluck. We started by taking turns reading the Charter for Compassion. Then we took turns feeding each other, moving around the table so that everyone would get a chance to serve each other. As we took a bite, we’d say a person’s name that we were symbolically offering nourishment to and then spent the rest of the evening sharing our experiences and ideas about compassion.

Hari om

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Dorlean Peck a teacher from Nanaimo wrote:

This past Saturday, Nov.28, seven of the Radha teachers on Vancouver Island got together to reflect on the Charter of Compassion.  We met from 10 to 4 at the new Nanaimo Yoga Weyr, a very beautiful building close to the Nanaimo River. It has a large hatha room, a large kitchen, a suite for the visiting teacher, and a meditation loft.

Arlene Trustham lead us through a Hidden Language practice of the Sun Salutation in the morning.  We had a pot-luck lunch and then went for a brisk walk along the river.  In the afternoon we reflected on each paragraph of the Charter, and how it applies to us. It was a wonderful way to reconnect with each other.

In the Light, Dorlean                         

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