Today, I am participating in a group writing project brought to us by three awesome monks:
To participate, just follow any of the links. Sticking around their sites and reading the other entries is also definitely worthwhile.
So, what is compassion anyway? The main problem with some definitions I have read is that they are always linking compassion to certain feeling of love towards others, as if it was something reserved only for those high up in the clouds on their spiritual paths, devoting their lives exclusively to the wellbeing of humanity. None of the above monks is actually guilty of that, it’s just a general impression I have, certain connotations that always seem to be floating around the word’s meaning.
So how do I define it? Compassion, for me, is about one simple thing: allowing, instead of trying. It is accepting situations as they are, and just letting things flow naturally. Yes, in such a state a deep empathy for all living beings arises within, but that is just a byproduct of allowing oneself to see the world from a natural and accepting viewpoint. Compassion is also about embracing creativity, expressing the self naturally without any restraints.
But it seems I’m losing myself in the clouds (again). Time to get a little bit more grounded, and tell you something that happened to me recently that made me think a lot about the true meaning behind compassion.
A couple of days ago, I found a couple of old photos in my wallet, which I took a little over a year ago to renew my passport. The photo in and of itself had nothing in particular: just a shot of my head on the mandatory gray background.
When I really started looking at the photo, though, I noticed something that really surprised me. I was seeing a serious and boring face as I expected, but the eyes staring back at me looked incredibly hollow and pale.
I had already been starting to forget where I was in my life just one year ago and how much I’ve seen, learned and done since then, so it was really scary to see my own face with that look of quiet rage and despair I have become so used to seeing in others whenever I take the public transport, but which has not been present on my face for what seems like forever. I was totally baffled and didn’t know how to react to all the memories that suddenly filled my head and vividly reminded me of my life just one incredibly short year ago.
“If you knew what I know now” I told this past self I was staring at, “You wouldn’t have that look on your face.” Really, it’s true. The tiny spark of light that was hidden deep inside back then would have been just a tad more visible, playing around in my head merrily even as I watched my life crumbling to pieces around me.
“It doesn’t really matter, though,” I went on saying, “because things shouldn’t have happened any other way. Right now, I’m exactly where I want to be.”
And with those final words of acceptance, the last bit of resistance I was still carrying around from that time just started melting away, giving way to a feeling of awe, to the pure wonder of even being alive. Letting go of the part of me that wished things had been different, embracing all that happened without bitterness, allowing myself to just stand there, photo still clutched in my trembling hands, a feeling of pure love and gratitude surging from within me, now that is something I can truly call compassion. It is something that naturally flows outwards to everyone I have (and haven’t) met on this journey which continues to amaze me every day.
If all of us could feel what I felt there for just an instant, the world would indeed be a very different place. If you are finding yourself in a tough situation right now, just look forward and ask your future self: “Why the hell is this happening to me?” Just be patient. In that future, I’m sure you will have your answer.
I have distant memories of my childhood when we used to have a christmas tree in our living room every year (more out of tradition than anything else.)
Now I’m all grown up, and I haven’t had one for years. I have no specific religous attachment to this symbol, but it does remind me of years past, of a simpler life. Therefore, in honor of my inner child that is in the process of reawakening, I’m renewing the tradition – right here in my new virtual home.
Making a fractal can often be a painstakingly deliberate way of creating art. The math’s right there in front of me, and even if it’s not evident most of the time, I have absolute control of what’s going on in my images. That makes it all the rarer to just fire up apo and see a really intriguing flame staring right back at me whispering to my imagination, one that is already beautiful and malleable enough to make me want to shape it into something unique, even if it’s not up to the ficticious standards of my latest self-declared masterpiece.
This sort of ocurrence has been more frequent lately, but maybe it’s just because I have been looking more closely. I can’t stress enough how important experimentation is – when you just go where your ideas lead you, you will always end up somewhere interesting. Sometimes it’s a bold journey into the unknown, but mostly, it’s just about seeing potential in the unremarkable – finding the extra within the ordinary.
Today’s mood is black and white, an image gaining a crisp force of expression through the simplicity of its tones.
Your life is like a fan, fine cloth exquisitely painted in vivid colors.
The question is: Do you allow yourself to open it and show it to the world, or are you afraid? After all, it could be broken, stained, stolen, transformed! But I must wonder – isn’t that the whole point?
I was inspired to write this post quite a while ago. Something totally unrelated I read gave me a tiny spark of inspiration, building up inside me for weeks, being pushed off by my conscious mind in favor of more urgent matters, until the sheer pressure forced me to let loose an avalanche of ideas I was barely aware of. Strange quirks of my creativity, I guess. I get the feeling sometimes that I have a team of gnomes working on all the ideas inside my head… I can’t explain where else these fully formed thoughts come from, just popping up in my head from one moment to the next.
Anyway, back to today’s topic, Magnitude.
Magnitude is the scale at which something resides. In the context of today’s post, that something can be an idea, an act, a thing, a thought, or anything else that interacts with other people.
I think it’s important to realise that order of magnitude is irrelevant. There are no small actions or large actions, there are just actions. Nothing is insignificant – there is no such thing. Whenever people affect each other, chain reactions will start happening, expanding continuously into the infinite. The pebble you’re putting out into the world today might just be the one that changes the course of an avalanche. This is the basis of what I’m saying here – the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings.
We don’t see this plainly in our day to day activities because the world, this oozy and ill-defined mass of matter, energy, awareness, is not a thread but a multidimensional fabric. There are a lot of factors at work simultaneously, which lead us to the chaotic mess that we see every day. You, me, all of us have an impact around us, a field of magnetic influence if you will, and its effects will spread far and wide until they blend right into the mix, being bent in strange directions and formed into bizarre shapes in the process.
The variables in play are innumerable, and so entangled that we could not possibly understand them fully (it’s a bit like that weather thing). Even the simplest things can cause lasting effects that stick around inexplicably:
-A childhood memory popping up, for no reason at all.
-A smile, given away for free, finding it’s way back to you – or not.
-The sweet scent of a flower, a butterfly trampled on (or a sound of thunder, perhaps)
-A blog post of mine, or one of yours, being read years, decades, centuries, millennia from now.
So, what does this mean for us? It means that we are causing a lot of things to happen, all the time, whether we want it or not. This is what gives us our infinite potential of creation, what makes us able shape the world around us in part – as one of many factors that define existence. It means that the responsibility is ours to reflect what we want from the world, first and foremost within ourselves, and let that influence spread out through all of our actions, big or small.
Hi, this is Vitor.. from the past. I’ve just finished using the timebending tool that is future posting. You’re reading this right now, but I have probably taken a plane to Peru (biz trip, no time for sightseeing – sigh). Breaking the laws of physics has never been easier.
A small backlog of images has been starting to build, so I am replacing the mystical words surrounding my art with mundane ones for a change. After all, letting an image waste away on my hard drive would be an offense to my inspiration.
Yesterday’s fractal seemed to be the final trigger to set off something – I don’t know exactly what. I’ve been struggling to redefine everything and, most appropriately, chaos ensued. It has been a messy process.
The concept I have of blogging is quickly changing – from a static exposition of ideas to a dinamically flowing and evolving tool of communication, first and foremost with myself, but also with the many amazing individuals I’ve come to know over the last few months.
I am seeing it clearer everyday, the chorus that we form by connecting to each other, spanning the globe in mere milseconds. I feel like a single neuron hooked up to an immense net. The information, the insights I have, are meaningless on their own. But as soon as I connect and start exchanging these bits of information with others, a larger picture starts to emerge.
Back to the fireworks now. The curious things about chaotic systems is that small modifications that seem meaningless when looked at from the magnitude of the whole, can still have huge impacts: The proverbial pebble that changes the course of the avalanche.
In that context, I played around a bit with yesterday’s piece, and a few tweaks later something radically different emerged. It almost seems to fall apart at the edges, but carries a strange beauty in its bizarre shapes.