connecting psychotherapy and spiritual growth for human awakening
The spiritual message is perennial and clear: I am you and you are me: we are all continuous—one Consciousness with no boundary. From the point of view of the Divine, of eternity, I am all people in all times in all circumstances… I need not, should not make the mistake of identifying with me, of thinking that all I am is myself… that would be a case of mistaken identity.
Now this great spiritual realization impacts everything of course, but nothing more so than the reality of the heart and its sublime functioning: compassion.
Compassion is one of the central qualities of human awakening. Does this mean that people who have not awakened out of their conditioning cannot experience or practice compassion? What about family life and caring for others and a host of daily and spontaneous demonstrations of love and caring that most people feel and express? Can we only be compassionate once we have completed our inner journey, freed ourselves from emotional-behavioral patterning, and become authentic?
In Part I, we discussed how people participate in life through different levels of awareness or consciousness and that the collective level of human awareness is currently within the first three levels. Remember, these levels span the animalistic concerns for survival, the biological layers of human experience, like family ties and interdependent relationships, and the further sophistication of relating to oneself and the impulse toward the quest for truth. Within these first three levels, compassion is subject to the limitations of the conditions of those levels. For example in the second level, love and compassion toward our children is expressed in the kinds of concerns that are appropriate to family relationships—protection, well-wishing, desire for individual pleasure and fulfillment, to preserve the family through procreation, to enjoy good health, shield and keep them safe. In the third level, friendship, involvement, and the thrill of interacting with others in complementary roles to our own stirs the heart and precipitates involvement of different kinds with a variety of loving feelings.
To cross from the third into the fourth layer of consciousness is a transformational act, a movement between two levels of reality—one dominated by fear, the other dominated by love. It requires an extraordinary depth of inner work, an act of great courage, and trust in the unknown. We realize the meaning of heart as coeur—bravery and courage.
This transformational quality is also true with regard to compassion. In the fourth level there are distinguishing elements to compassion, which are clearly different when compared to the first three levels. Compassion is increasingly not proffered or given; it is a fact of the second stage of awakening, an intrinsic element. This is because the historical personality issues have been resolved and the person who participates in the fourth level of awareness acts from their authenticity and their true nature. In summary, the experience is: when compassion is present, I am not. This is a very different relationship to compassion to, say, that of the second chakra where to varying degrees you are effectively allotting compassion or serving it out. Consider, for example, the common enquiry, Do you love me? which underpins the difficulties that arise in primary love relationships. In the fourth level, compassion radiates from the heart as a form of love. When you are centered in the heart, you have no choice, there is no option and there is no act of will involved with expressing compassion or love. You may not withhold it; you may not bestow it. It simply is, as a spontaneous expression of your nature. You can no more prevent, interfere, or take credit for it than a rose can for its fragrance. And you can no more choose who to give it to and who to withhold it from than a flower can decide who may or may not smell it!So, to summarize: In the lower conditions of consciousness, compassion is always a self-motivated, self-directed diversion of self-concern, fear, and desire through psycho-biological levels of basic ego-concern. At the fourth level, however, where there are no others, no separateness or division, compassion is a state of being; it is the function of love. When I am in my true nature, in the flowering of the heights and depths of personality, compassion is extended indiscriminately to all and everyone.
(Adapted from Harvey, Richard, Your Divine Opportunity: how to awaken to your true self in the modern era, Part IV: Awakening our True Heart-Nature, 94-95, Sacred Attention Publishing 2021. Full details and ordering at https://www.therapyandspirituality.com/books/)
This article was published on this site in December 2020.