Click here to go to the next issue
Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day
#1865 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
Does Compassion belong when there is no other?
In the American Dictionary, compassion is defined as sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by the urge to help; deep sympathy; pity.
In Advaita Vedanta, there is no other, no second, so who is there to feel sorry for another? And so if one is intellectually convinced of this notion then when ones friend comes up and says that he is dying of cancer, one can remain naturally silent, because how can one be coming to another if there is not two, let alone talking about dying when nothing is even born?
When I first became a practitioner of Non duality, which admits of no other, I understood this with the logic of my mind. So when I saw people who were obviously in pain, whether physically or emotionally, I would stand there, and with eyes unblinking, I would tell myself that all this was illusion, and go on my merry way. I watched myself go through several relationships in this way as each partner would go through the throes of emotional pain, while I retreated into the security of my head and its mental dispassionate safety net.
It was not until I began teaching small children that I began to learn from them, who can be wailing in exquisite pain one moment and the next skip off in joy, forgetting completely the pain that they were in. My heart started to open and I slowly descended back into the sticky realm of light and shadow.
Know there is one, but act as though there is two, so said Ramana. This is what Hanuman, who is considered to be an incarnation of Shiva, did when he served Rama. He knew the Unity of the One but played the part of devotee, as did Rama play the part of a weeping husband bent on freeing his wife. They knew the Truth but played their roles. When I allow the feelings to come forth, I am no more my feelings than I am my thoughts, yet they are part of that humanness that manifests through this unique expression called Janaka.
The word sympathy comes from the word pathos. The Greeks recognized the divinity of pathos, the suffering that humans go through. If I go to my heart and out of my head, when I see a child crying because they miss their mother I then wont say, Why are you crying? Who cries for whom? I will instead say, You want your mother right now and you miss her. You are sad because she is not here with you. I can be where the person is without trying to fix anything. When there is pain, there is pain; when there is joy, there is joy.
Next to the word compassion is the word compass, and the compass encircles, encompasses. The tendency of a philosophical path is to be very straight forward, very masculine. To encircle is the way of the mother who holds the laughing or crying child.
However, just as the straight forward way can be dangerous by locking us up into a cold cell of a false enlightenment, so too does the compass way have its pitfalls. While non-dualism can get caught up with antipathy, pushing the world away, compassion can become waterlogged with sympathy and may sink into the suffering of the world, where it is hard not to succumb to the notion that the one Self is actually in pain. Then pity comes forward and the world becomes a pitiful place.
Ramana talked about the importance of helping others, not for their sake, because they are the Infinite Self which needs no help, but for our own. When one extends oneself one gets out of the little me and finds that by helping others we help ourselves. The trick is, however, to give up the notion that I am helping, which only feeds the ego. There is simply helping. Another danger is falling into sympathy of the sufferer and siding with their notions that they are a victim and that somebody or something has caused them to be so. This only feeds the illusion of Yes, you are a pitiful body. If one can simply acknowledge that the person is suffering and witness what they believe is actually happening, without agreeing or disagreeing, then one is being present in this amazing play called Life, that the One Consciousness is expressing through the myriad forms on this planet.
What a Mystery! May everyone have the good fortune to play with little children. But, hey, who plays with whom?
Daniel Kehoe Jerry Katz, I've enjoyed nonduality.com for
years (it seems!). Thanks for I've started an interesting
project, at It's a project that gathers
quotations that have inspired great The site provides a daily
"reminder of what is" to students of Several teachers have already
made contributions of their favorite This is not a typical collection
of quotations, because I have not
that I want you to know about.
teachers in the self-realization tradition.
quotations, providing over a hundred quotations so far; and several
more teachers have expressed their intent to contribute.
asked the teachers to contribute words they have expressed themselves;
rather, I have asked them to collect the quotations of others who have
inspired them to a deeper realization of the truth. Thus, these are
the quotations that have inspired those who themselves inspire, as if
the quotations form part of a lineage of thoughts that lead to
I've enjoyed nonduality.com for
years (it seems!). Thanks for
I've started an interesting
It's a project that gathers
quotations that have inspired great
The site provides a daily
"reminder of what is" to students of
Several teachers have already
made contributions of their favorite
This is not a typical collection
of quotations, because I have not
Ivan M. Granger
-- Sacred Poetry from Around the World
I've been on the Nonduality Highlights list for some time, and I
especially enjoy all of the wonderful poetry that is regularly
included. In the last few weeks I just posted a new website called the
Poetry Chaikhana <http://www.Poetry-Chaikhana.com>. The Poetry
Chaikhana as an on-line resource of sacred poetry from around the
world. It includes:
- The great Sufi/Muslim poets, like Rumi, Hafiz, Abu Said, and
- Hindu devotional poets, like Mirabai, Lal Ded, and Ramprasad
- Christian mystic poets, like St. John of the Cross, St. Francis of
Assisi, Hadewijch of Antwerp, and Thomas Merton
- Zen Buddhist poets, like Basho, Dogen, Han Shan, and Thich Nhat Hahn
So far, the Poetry Chaikhana has more than 100 poets and 500 poems --
and I am continuing to expand its content. Visitors can search for
poets by name, tradition, century, or in a timeline. The meaning of
common themes and imagery in sacred poetry are also explored. You can
even listen to music while exploring the site.
I've included a little more information about the meaning and purpose
of the site below. I wanted to let you know in case you and the other
editors of the various lists are looking for more on-line resources of
Ivan M. Granger
Poetry Chaikhana -- Sacred Poetry from Around the World
- What is a chaikhana?
A chaikhana is a teahouse along the legendary Silk Road pilgrimage and
trading route linking China to the Middle East and Europe. It is a
place of rest along the journey, a place to shake off the dust of the
road, to sip tea, and to gather together to sing songs of the Divine...
- About the Poetry Chaikhana Website
The Poetry Chaikhana joyfully shares the sacred poetry of cultures,
religions, and spiritual traditions from around the world.
There is, however, a definite Middle Eastern theme to the Poetry
Chaikhana. This is partly to honor of the centuries of vibrant,
ecstatic, devotional, irreverant, and truly profound sacred poetry the
region has given to the world. But another important reason for the
Middle Eastern flavor of the site is in order to counter the miserably
limited portrayal of Middle Eastern cultures and religion we are given
in the West.
Although I am not a Muslim or Sufi, it is desperately important to
remind the Western world of the rich spirituality the Middle East has
given to the world. Perhaps even more important is that we in the West
must remember how strongly European Christian traditions, particularly
Christian mysticism, has been influenced by the sacred (and poetic!)
traditions of the Middle East through centuries of cultural
As you explore the Poetry Chaikhana, notice the similarity of
experience and unity of heart described by Christian saints, Sufi
shaikhs, and Hindu mahatmas. While we must cherish the differences
within each tradition, those who believe that there is something
fundamentally irreconcilable between the spiritual traditions of the
world are trapped in misunderstanding and have not yet touched the
heart of their own tradition.
It is my sincere hope that the Poetry Chaikhana will open your heart,
inspire your mind, and elevate your spirit. May we all fall into the
embrace of the Eternal One with ecstatic songs upon our lips!
- Poetry and the Sacred Experience
The experience of spiritual ecstasy is not easily conveyed through
words. The state is too all-encompasing, too immense for descriptive
prose. The language of prose attempts to box in meaning, whereas poetry
allows meaning to gather. The elastic nature of poetry is better suited
to the sacred experience, relaying the truth of the experience without
attempting to circumscribe it.
The metaphors of sacred poetry are often spontaneous. The sacred
experience is beyond word and form, yet the limited mind, in trying to
understand what it is witnessing, reflexively reinterprets the
experience in terms of the world known to the senses. What emerges is a
primal language of metaphor, a rich and spontaneous pidgin that
develops between the limited mind and the unlimited awareness.
As a result, mystics the world over find themselves speaking of a
golden ocean, the sweetness of honey, the giddiness of wine, the
shining moon, ecstatic annihilation in fire.
And this is why mystics in every culture write poetry.
~ ~ ~
Highlights editor's note: This website is a great venture and resource. Here is an extract followed the poems on the site that have the theme of Smile. You can access the links to them at http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Themes/Smile.htm
A giddy joy comes upon you in the ecstatic state, felt especially as a spreading warmth upon the heart. This is greater and, at the same time subtler, than what is normally called happiness. Happiness is sharp-edged and fleeting, but this joy is filled with peace and completely independent of external circumstances. This quiet bliss is steady and radiant.
The welling up of feeling can be so strong that often one reflexively smiles or even laughs out loud. This behavior is one more reason that spiritual ecstasy is often compared with drunkenness.
~ ~ ~
If I say that the skies
have opened, the spring has come,
I mean that my beloved has shown me some affection.
If I say that the meadow
is adorned with blossoms,
it conveys that my sweetheart spoke to me with a smile.
Galib Dede (Seyh Galib)
Timeline (1757 - 1799)
~ ~ ~
you are too practical, trying to put
this odd lump
to good use.
Melt me down.
Make of me
some golden trinket,
some frivolous, bejeweled thing
from your ear;
let me rest
against the warm pulse
of your neck.
Go ahead, Mother,
it is just you and I
before the mirror.
I won't tell
if you want to spin
like a girl
this bit of glitter
--Ivan M. Granger 2002
~ ~ ~
 The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
The Moving Finger
writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
-- from The Rubaiyat of
Omar Khayyam Explained, Paramhansa Yogananda / Edited by J.
Donald Walters (Kriyananda)
~ ~ ~
The following are poems on the website that have the theme of Smile. The links may be accessed at http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Themes/Smile.htm.
Abil-Kheir, Abu-Said In
my heart Thou dwellest--else with blood I'll drench it;
Abil-Kheir, Abu-Said  Nothing but burning sobs and tears tonight.
al-Hallaj, Mansur You glide between the heart and its casing
Attar, Farid ud-Din God Speaks to Moses (from The Conference of the Birds)
Galib Dede (Galib, Seyh) If I say that the skies have opened
Granger, Ivan M. A Question
Granger, Ivan M. Cheshire Cat
Granger, Ivan M. Trinket
ha-Nagid, Samuel Red in aspect, sweet in taste
Hafiz Hair disheveled, smiling lips, sweating and tipsy,
Hafiz The Thousand-Stringed Instrument
Hanh, Thich Nhat Looking for Each Other
Hanh, Thich Nhat Please Call Me by My True Names
Hopkins, Gerard Manley Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Jacopone of Todi (Benedetti, Jacopone) At the cross her station keeping, (from Stabat Mater Dolorosa)
Kerouac, Jack The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
Khayyam, Omar  The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Machado, Antonio Last night, as I was sleeping,
Maharshi, Ramana The Marital Garland of Letters
Tulsi Sahib The Rainy Season
Whitman, Walt  Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? (from Song of Myself)
Whyte, David Muktinath
Yogananda, Paramahansa OM
Yogananda, Paramahansa Samadhi
These are the other themes. The website is organized according to theme, author, tradition, century and timeline. It's an excellent resource for The Highlights.
Lover and Beloved
Visit the website:
Poetry Chaikhana -- Sacred Poetry from Around the World: http://www.Poetry-Chaikhana.com
top of page