One of the responses to the last blog post was from a dear fellow compassion teacher. She asked what I think about the role of the teacher, if compassion can’t be taught. It’s such a great question!
Here’s an analogy:
We can’t teach water how to flow, but we can create a pathway, a channel for it to flow.
Compassion is like water: It flows naturally when unobstructed.
A good teacher can point out what gets in the way of the current of compassion, revealing her own experience of resistance, barriers and objections. That’s what I aim to do. I introduce a perspective, tools, exercises and practices. I share my experience of creating the conditions for compassion to flow, and what I’ve noticed as a result.
In compassion education we gather to explore this phenomena called compassion. The role of the compassion teacher is a role I play for discrete periods of time. In the role, I facilitate a conversation where compassion can reveal itself through stories and examples. I remind us of what we already know, what we want to live. At other times, you may remind me.
The real learning in compassion education is in noticing (without judgement) what gets in the way (negativity, judgement, self centeredness), and training the mind and heart to open pathways for compassion to be more and more our default, go-to response.
When we strip away our stress, busy-ness, self doubt and distraction, compassion is there. When we commit time to really listening to another, or reflecting on what life might be like for them, compassion is there.
We invite compassion in and then we notice what happens when it takes its natural course.
Do you feel less isolated when you’re struggling? Do situations that used to bother you bother you less?