Spiritual Awakenings – Ruthless Compassion

Spiritual Awakenings

We’ve all experienced those people and situations that could drive a Saint to lose it.  I recently found this perspective and found it extremely insightful on how to approach difficult people, or situations.

Ghandi Quote

Ghandi Quote

Someone said that the concept of ruthless compassion is an oxymoron, i.e. a contradiction in terms. However, I want to clarify: “ruthless compassion” is not an oxymoron; it’s a kind of dynamic tension between seemingly opposite forces, in which one aspect tempers the other.

For example, compassion without ruthlessness is simply mushy niceness without backbone or boundaries. Ruthlessness without compassion is merely vicious callousness. When combined, however, we get the best of both attributes: the loving-kindness of compassion & the fierceness & no-compromise stance of ruthlessness.

Ruthlessness plus compassion is empowerment without cruelty; compassion plus ruthlessness is love with appropriate limits. When we practice ruthless compassion, we accept the other person, but not necessarily their actions; we understand their behavior but don’t necessarily tolerate it.

Those of us that practice and live a Yogic lifestyle have as our foundation, The Eight Limbs of Yoga, as outlined in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. 

The first limb is called the Yamas, and there are 5. The second limb is called the Niyamas. And there are also 5.  These are likened to the ten commandments. By observance of these restraints it helps one to attain a healthy mind and body. And to live in this world in harmony with others, everything else on the planet we inhabit, and the planet itself. Asana or Postures, is not at the beginning of the Yogic Journey.

These ethical guidelines, briefly outlined below, are challenging, some more than others. Be they are aspirations. And each person is at a different place on their Yogic path.

The Yamas:

  1. Ahimsa: non-violence (or love)
  2. Satya: benevolent truth, absence of falsehood
  3. Asteya: non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya: spiritual advancement by education and training. Some traditions associate Brahmacharya with celibacy.
  5. Aparigraha: non-appropriation, absence of avarice

The Niyamas:

  1. Shaucha: cleanliness of thought, mind and body – purity.
  2. Santosha: happy satisfaction; good contentment.
  3. Tapas: spiritual effort; austerity.
  4. Svdhyya: self study, study to know more about God and the soul, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
  5. Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to God 

To practice ruthless compassion may seem in conflict with these. However, I feel, that as long as genuine kindness and compassion are practiced along side this, then we continue to honor these observaces. Your thoughts?


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