When we look at another being in suffering, most of us feel sympathy for others in suffering. That is love too; however it is not love in action or love in movement. It is not love in process or love expressed. It is merely love contained, like water in a sealed bottle that cannot be drunk till we open the sealed cap and only then can we quench our thirst.
Love that does not heal or love that is inactive is sympathy. Love that heals and caresses is compassion.
Looking back in the somewhat distant past I recall myself traveling on a bus. One poor old lady from a village was traveling on the same bus. On being asked for the ticket she started complaining to the ticket seller that she had to travel further and all she had would be spent on the bus ride. She wanted him to let her travel without being charged the fare. The ticket seller would not agree. Finally she was forced to buy the ticket but she was almost in tears as she needed to travel further to see her son. I sat there in the bus thinking to myself that maybe I should give her some money. In the meantime another man reached out to her and said “Mother here keep this money, you will need it on the way”. It was obvious to me that he wasn’t that well off either. But here I was and I could have spared the money, but strangely it was like as though some kind of inexplicable lethargy had a hold on me. I sat there thinking but I could not move. Something held me back from doing good. It was my selfishness.
I look back very shamefully at that incident to this day but it served me as wakeup call. When I looked inside me, it was clear as a crystal to me that I lacked the will to give, that I lacked in active love, in compassion.
For our spiritual journey, if we truly wish to travel, we have to look inwards. The poet Sage Kabir in a couplet says “I looked around the entire world for dirt, bad and evil but I found no one. When I looked inside me I found none worse than me”.
One of my favorite teachers is a Swami who has no worldly possessions; however his most amazing quality is his ability to give. He has some kind of strange siddhi (perfection). When he really needs something it will come to him. In one day he distributes almost everything that visitors will bring him. He will often borrow money to pay or give people. This most truly amazing avdhoot style of life means that he may have some devotee bringing him loads of food on a particular day. Usually on the following day he would invite many poor people and villagers from nearby and feed them thereby exhausting his entire supply of food. Finally on the third day he along with his disciples may be sitting hungry the entire day as they have no food.
Other Swami’s and Pandit’s visit him frequently, he tries to give them some money or gifts when they depart. It is this astonishing ability of continued giving that makes him a being of light, a devta; containing infinite compassion, a quality that I can only admire from a great distance and hope for some miracle that will make me alike him.
Aparigraha means non-possession. The practice of non-possession leads to removal of greed. It does away with the need to accumulate and to hoard. Removal of greed leads to giving. Giving leads to selflessness. Selflessness leads to love. Love leads to compassion.
On the other hand desire for possessions leads to greed. Greed leads to selfishness. Selfishness leads to blocking of love. Blocking the flow of love leads to Misery.
Frequently this world tends to seek miracles. A swami/ person telling you your past accurately, or somebody producing something like a watch out of thin air or doing any such trick amazes the world. These miracles attract people. However the true miracle of a spiritual life is to be able to feel that love in your heart. Love makes us Divine. Love is divinity. To be able to feel love within one’s own being and to be able to spread it. To let that love become compassion. And letting Compassion flow from the heart in a flow of healing love reducing suffering, bringing joy to many in this world. That is the true Amrit, the immortal nectar.