Compassion, Service, Joy

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ” 
― Martin Luther King, Jr


Expand Consciousness: Encourage Compassion, Service and Joy

By Rev. Gail Cantor

Consciousness gives rise to interest beyond the small self-interest and concern. That is why expanding our consciousness is called for. Without consciousness, and especially without an ever-expanding consciousness, the day-to-day particulars and circumstances become the focus of our attention, fill up our days, and use up our energy.

With an ever-expanding awareness, we are more likely to be engaged in an exploration of unified, transcendent and inspirational principles that refresh and replenish our wellspring of energy, open up our creativity and call us to connect, contribute and serve the greatest good.

The first thing that we can do to expand our consciousness is let go of the judgment that others are not interested. In the world of activity and survival, people will be distracted, self-consumed, busy, weary and often afraid. When we let go of judgment of that state of being, we can consciously bring compassion to human beings who live here on Earth in the realm of duality — dealing daily with the demands of great diversity and the constraints of being embodied and, therefore, limited. We can become spiritual beings who bring wisdom and shed light where there is challenge and suffering.

In her book, When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes that awakening is essential. She says:

“Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The Earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.”

This is great guidance. There is no better time than now to awaken and to expand our consciousness. Each of us has an opportunity to use up or waste energy. We can be leaders of discouragement or encouragement. We can add to the burdens and the challenges of the turbulent times we are in; or we can invest ourselves in developing our ability to sanely relate to change, to diversity, and to all of the challenges that confront us. We can become joyful leaders, bringing forth the powers of our gifts and talents.

Expanding our consciousness allows us to realize that as human beings, we are the most developed species of the most amazing creation that exists: this life, this world, all of creation. We can live in gratitude. We can live life as a privilege not a burden. And we can encourage the awakening of others and empower them to contribute their gifts as well.

How can we expand consciousness? There is no one-size-fits-all path, but here are some ideas and practices that can help, revealing your particular talent and creativity and using it for the betterment of life:

  • Review your journey: What has been the central issue or theme? What is the spiritual truth that you have learned? What inspired message does your life deliver?

  • What idea, precept, or virtue do you trust? You suffer when you violate it. You are lifted up when you stay true to it.

  • What do you yearn to contribute? How do you envision being of service to others?

  • Shed your old skin, let go of old habits, changing and healing to illuminate new ways.

  • Forgiving ego; forgiving all duality without judgment or examination. Have compassion for the condition of being human.

  • Change it up. Stop doing something that you are used to doing but has no life to it for 30 days.

  • Pick a repetitive, common thought that you have and intentionally let it go each time it comes up for 30 days.

  • Exchange energy properly, sharing for the common good, expressing your gifts through accomplishment.

  • Identify any current energy drains (people or projects that drain energy); cut the cords, end the projects if you can, and minimize your exposure and investment.

  • Bank some energy each day, maybe through meditation, music, downtime, walking in nature, etc. Don’t use it all up each day.

  • Work on your inspired plan daily. Make inspired commitments.

Initially, expanding consciousness can reveal pain and challenge, but ultimately, it is the path to service, grace and joy.


Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

“Educate and protect the lives of children; sit with the dying; don’t over-consume, be meat-free; give refuge to refugees; volunteer in prisons; protect our earth; look to women for leadership; address issues in our lives, in our culture, in our society related to racism; build community and a just economic order; end war, and become a peacemaker. Make compassion viral.” - Roshi Joan Halifax


The Fierceness of Compassion

I wanted to share a few short clips from a full-length film called Fierce Light, the same director as Occupy Love (highly recommend). For the activists in the circle (and perhaps there are more of us now) the people in these clips offer such gorgeous expressions of compassion in the face of great adversity. I was inspired, and hope you are too… may we all bring a compassionate heart wherever we find ourselves…. it belongs everywhere!


On Engaged Compassion

“Compassion is a verb” - Thich Nhat Hanh

I hope you enjoy this talk…. it is a favourite that we could all benefit from having on repeat :)


Writing Practice


Writing yourself a letter from your painting can be a powerful way to receive its message. Begin writing stream of consciousness (without editing or needing to pre-formulate thoughts), allowing your hand to become the conduit for your heart and spirit. Like being in a sharing circle, there is no need to think about what you are going to say before it is time to say it. Just allow your hand to write quickly to keep up with the sometimes random and surprising things coming through it. At first it might feel like your mind is the one writing it, but keep keep going and notice when the feeling of your writing shifts and becomes the voice of your heart. 


Painting Review

* Add smallest detail using whatever tool will give you the desired shape or effect (writing, dots, patterns, etc)

* Add thin highlighted lines throughout your painting

* Name & Sign!


With deep gratitude to each and every one of you for being a part of our sacred circle,

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