This week we are going to start Chapter 3, From Fear to Courage. We will begin by just spending some time exploring the relationship between fear and compassion. Dr. Jinpa shares a great story about his decision to leave monastic life to talk about the connection between fear and compassion. He points out in vulnerable situations, our need for the connection and kindness of others is also the root cause of our fear around the situation. He brings out the natural and human tendencies to worry about what others will think about us; whether people would dislike us and/or judge us harshly; whether we would be rejected or seen as a disappointment. These worries/fears can become so intense that we cannot see anything else; we become paralyzed.
This level of fear, however, is counterproductive. Dr. Jinpa suggests that instead of worrying about what others will think, consider how might your action(s) affect those who care about you. I can feel how that simple shift in words can create space. The more spacious we become around fear the less of a hold it has upon us. Jinpa does point out that compassion takes courage. He notes that it takes courage to care about ourselves, to make decisions that are in our own best interest and to not let the fear of what others think throw us off course.
Jinpa also spells out how compassion MAKES courage. When we have self-compassion around a vulnerable situation we become more confident in our actions. We take the time needed for clear reflection on what is important for us and the best response for the well-being of others. When we have compassion for others affected by our decisions/actions we are less self-absorbed. We have access to more spaciousness and energy. We cultivate the capacity to hold the suffering and difficulties others might experience because of our actions, without jeopardizing our own values and integrity.
For all its benefits, we still resist compassion when we need it the most. Dr. Jinpa, identifies three kinds of fear that block us from experiencing the support and benefits of compassion – fear of compassion for others, fear of compassion from others and fear of compassion for oneself. He list several statements associated with each of these fears. On Thursday, we will explore our personal relationships with these statements (I’ll bring the list with me). We will all recognize ourselves in each statement but some statements will resonate more than others which will show each of us where we are the most resistant to compassion.
I’ll see you all tomorrow…