How Does Meditation Lead To Compassion?

Written by
Bruce Davis, Ph.D.
| Published
May 29, 2023
The teachers and countless books about meditation make it sound so easy. Just sit for some time, watch your breath, let your thoughts and feelings drift by in the sky of your mind, and you will come to a new awareness. You will discover compassion!

The teachers and countless books about meditation make it sound so easy. Just sit for some time, watch your breath, let your thoughts and feelings drift by in the sky of your mind, and you will come to a new awareness. You will discover compassion!

Really? Is my mind that different from everyone else’s? I can sit and sit and sit, watch and observe, I can think about not thinking again and again but I can’t really admit I have discovered compassion. I do find breaks in the clouds of my constant thoughts. I do find some clear sky briefly in my busy mind. But in all honesty, these moments of not thinking, these brief periods of clarity, although refreshing, I cannot describe this as compassion.

Is compassion the result of all the patience I need to find these small breaks in my seemingly forever mind of thought? Am I to be patient with my cloudy mental sky full of nearly everything but compassion?

Maybe compassion is the result of my trying to sit day after day, finding some humility in the process. Perhaps compassion grows from the patience and humility in the realization of how ordinary I am as a human being trying to meditate. How long do I need to sit to see clearly I am nothing more or less than another person wanting to be comfortable on the planet? Is this the prize of the teachings, patience and humility yielding eventually an awareness of compassion? Will compassion rise out of my being as I see how thoroughly ordinary and non-special I am?

Compassion is a special form of understanding myself and others with acceptance, kindness, and love. Perhaps it comes not from having little or no thought but from something else entirely. Perhaps compassion comes from remembering and growing our heart. Isn’t it a big heart that we are seeking in meditation? How can all the training of the mind discover great compassion without discovering great heart, an awareness of delicious beauty, pure joy? How can we expect all our mental work to turn into an endless sky of compassion, sheltering us in perfect love and understanding without involvement of the heart?

It seems obvious, if we want an awareness of compassion, we need to discover the joy of our heart. Only a practice that embraces the heart, receives our heart essence, absorbing the light and joy of our heart will grow large enough, giving gentleness, offering kindness, care, and compassion to ourselves and others.

Perhaps sitting to calm down and clear our mind is really a matter of heart. Maybe our minds come to rest and let go as we practice receiving the simple peace around and within us. As we bring our awareness back home to our heart and leave the busy world behind, meditation begins. It is something much more then lessons in patience and humility. Meditation is a treasure box or better said, a treasure house to discover and enjoy.

Once we learn to bring our awareness from our worldly self to our inner being the adventure begins. The heart is a great purifier of all the stuff, desires and pains, expectations and attachments that so easily stick to our awareness. It is this stuff that keeps us from being present, giving, having compassion for ourselves and others. The heart is the great cleanser of all the judgments we carry around about ourselves and so many others. Once the stream of our thoughts is filtered with the presence in our heart, our awareness is open, supportive, becoming free.

Journeying deeply into our heart is the trip to India, the shaman, God in all forms that we seek. As we let our worldly self go and receive the presence in our heart is a here and now, a vastness without border or boundary. Our thoughts and feelings are far away. There is a being-ness, safety, and warmth that is indescribable. In meditation, we all have moments of this experience. But are moments enough? This could be our meditation practice. The golden silence we seek is the silence of our heart. The wisdom we want comes out of the quiet within us. As we leave our mental worlds, we come home in our heart. Here is the room of compassion. In fact, could it be our home, our heart, our very essence is compassion? We only need to rediscover it, to be it. The child within us tells us that our awareness is naturally giving, full of compassion, fun. Maybe meditation is returning to fun. Maybe our lightness of being will show us everything we want to embody including compassion.

Written By
Bruce Davis, Ph.D.
Original Pub. Date:
August 31, 2016
Original Source or Reference
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"As awareness rests in the heart, an indescribable joy from within unfolds." ​Bruce Davis

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"A retreat is time to come home inside yourself where the mind stops and silence of the heart begins." Ruth Davis

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