Recently I’ve discovered that I’m really not an ‘All or Nothing’ type of person. I’m not sure if I’ve always been this way, or if it is something that developed as I got older, but these days I rarely believe that there is one 100% right or wrong answer for anything.
I would make a terrible Buddhist. I eat meat for a start, and the whole living in the moment thing… I suck at that! But the Buddhist concept of compassion always makes me stop and think…
To have compassion for all things is really hard.
It is easy to have compassion for someone who you mostly agree with, but to find understanding and love for those who’s actions you disagree with is difficult. No wonder it is ‘the path to enlightenment’!
While I’m no where near mastering ‘true compassion for all things’, the ideal does make me stop and think. I makes me set aside my initial judgements and try and look at things from another’s perspective. It encourages me to at least try to ‘assign positive intent’, even to behaviour that I strongly disagree with.
Often I don’t quite succeed. Often I find it next to impossible to find even a scrap of compassion. Often I get angry, or self righteous, or cranky, well before I even begin to think about compassion. But still, it does make me think. It makes me realise that the world is made up of so many nuances, so many experiences, so many things I will never know, so many shades of grey.
Are you a black and white kind of person?
Or do you see the world in a million shades of grey like me?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
toushka lee says
some things are just black and white. right and wrong. I do not budge on some issues.
but a lot of things are greyish. Even things I’m passionate about are greyish. I am less judgemental today than I was when I was younger.
I would like to think I have compassion for most people. I can see other viewpoints that are not in line with mine and that is ok, parenting for example. I believe there are a billion different ways to do things and I’m not one to force my opinion on others or believe I am superior. I learn new things from others all the time. But the big black and white issues I have a harder time dishing out compassion.
I am ‘pretty’ grey all over except on issues of child sexual abuse I don;t think I could even begin to have compassion about that.
I’d be terrible Buddhist too … I love meat and I’m as mad as a cranky cow some days.
I go the middle road and just agree with whoever says what “in the moment” or when in Rome …tomorrow I might have a different point of view.
On judgement – I just don’t get teenage boys who wear their pants half way down their backside …I just have to say something to my son.
ROFL and the pants… I don’t get that either! oh and I’ve come up against a cranky cow lately and that’s pretty darn scary too!
Many shades of gray and many many colours, and a bit of black and white too because they are also colours (or absence of light/colour or all combined light/colour depending on what colour model you’re using… ;).
Now to work out if I have compassion…
Yes, well considering that just today I read a tweet and thought, dear gods, you must be a miracle – walking around the planet WITHOUT A BRAIN!, I pretty much think I’ll never be happy…
I have compassion for most people most of the time – including myself – but sometimes it takes a few minutes to kick in and translate to a language I can recognise and make use of…
Buddhists are lovely, but a little misguided anyway… Er, I mean, Buddhists are lovely!
Mixed Gems says
I was more black and white when I was younger but experiences in life made me question some things I held fast to, so I put them in the grey basket. I must say I don’t have answers for it all. I try to be compassionate but it is always easier to “love those who love you”. I’ve also had to find a place in my life where I have no answers about situations with those I love and just have to shut the door on those issues whilst still loving and being with them. It’s tricky. I guess it’s like a denial but that’s the only way to deal with complicated grey issues sometimes. I wrote a post not long back which expresses my thoughts, in case you’re interested in reading it – “Black and White + The Shadows of Life” (http://bit.ly/nYQ35N)
I am the ultimate shade of grey because I feel that I am black, white, and grey. Well, I guess now that I think of it, when it is something having to do with ME (eating, drinking, exercising, etc.), I am black or white, all or nothing. When it comes to others and world views/political views, etc, I am shades of grey. So, perhaps I need more compassion for myself.
compassion for yourself can be the hardest I think….
I’ve always thought of myself as gray but fact is, if I feel something is doing something to the detriment of other people (perceived malevolence, ignorance, disdain or lack of care) I’m COMPLETELY judgmental. I jump so quickly to conclusions about their values, about their politics. I am seemingly unable to ‘see it from their point of view’ despite that’s exactly what I’m expecting of them. Ah, what irony. You’ve made me think however, so thank you!
Some days black and white, some days grey. Some days judgmental, some days everyone’s differences are celebrated. Some days compassionate, others not. I suppose that just makes me human… though probably not a good Buddhist – too inconsistent!
I’m a grey girl. Being a mum has taught me that we all start from the same place in life, and much of our fortune or bad luck is entirely beyond us. So I try to picture myself in others’ shoes before I speak or act. I think it makes the world a better place if we try to understand where the other person is coming from.
Great post. :)
Dale Sims says
I still view somethings with a black and white perspective, but more and more the things that once led me to judgment, distaste and stress are handled quickly using a simple compassion exercise I have learned. A few minutes following the 5 simple steps change the experience for me. When it involves friends or loved ones my connection to them deepens and I am led to tears of compassion. Phew! What a relief.
Keep seeking compassion. Its a gift to yourself and those you direct it towards. By the way if you would like a compassion exercise card send me an email and I send one to you. May all our “black and white’s” become open to compassion! Aloha- Dale