Grit without compassion is just grind. What would be most fun to create this year? How can self-compassionate grit support you in that creating? - See more at: http://trackingwonder.com/quest-2015/community/#sthash.tUQzm9Qg.dpufGrit without compassion is just grind. What would be most fun to create this year? How can self-compassionate grit support you in that creating?
Last night, unable to sleep because I was up working on memoir stuff and writing poetry (a great reason not to be sleeping! Inspiration!) I also did some reading in preparation for a meditation instructor training I am taking in December. It's a familiar chapter - the Four Foundations of Mindfulness in a book called Heart of the Buddha by Chogyam Trungpa. These are super essential, really fundamental teachings, the four foundations, and I have come back to them again and again - there are many eras of highlights, underlining, notes to refer to notes, marginalia from all kinds of stages in my Buddhist and Shambhala journey.
I glanced at a page in the chapter before (Intellect and Intuition), which speaks to Idiot Compassion, one of my favorite phrases from Trungpa Rinpoche. Idiot compassion is when we are actually using what we call compassion in an un-useful way - contributing to co-dependence, enabling, etc, to use common psychological terms. I love his teachings on this, and so read further, even though it wasn't assigned.
Then I spotted the word Karuna, which is another word for compassion (the most common Sanskrit word we use for compassion in the west is Maitri/Metta, which means Loving Kindness). I didn't know of the word karuna until the last couple of years. I am now taking part in a program called Karuna Training, which began in November of 2014 and will go for two years. Here's what Trungpa Rinpoche has to say about Karuna:
Karuna is usually translated as "compassion." However, the word compassion is filled with connotations in English which have nothing to do with karuna. So it is important to clarify what is meant by enlightened compassion and how it differs from our usual notion of compassion... Enlightened compassion is not quite as simple-minded as that notion of a kindly, well-meaning soul...compassion is a state of calmness; it also involves intelligence and enormous vitality. Without intelligence and skillfulness (dare I say, grit?), compassion can degenerate into a bungling sort of charity.... In this type of compassion we do not just blindly launch into a project but we look into situations dispassionately.Here's why this passage echoed in my head this morning.
When I read Jen's prompt, I read it like this:
Compassion without grit is just grind.
Interesting mis-read, no?
For someone who works with people in an ostensibly helping way, as a dharma teacher, this "mis-read" is actually more powerful for me. I can certainly find "compassion" (I put in quotes because real compassion is not like this) to be grinding - feel compassion fatigue, as the social work field calls it. I need some grit - some reality, some traction, some deep but practical reason - to feel and practice compassion.
The grit I find works best is to let myself rub up against structure - sort of like discipline but more flexible and loving. For instance, when I do self-care (self-compassion, in Jen's phrase above), I do get more done. I often have such a dim view of self-care - even though I think it's a good idea, the self-hatred kicks in before I even attempt to go to the gym, meditate, write, etc.
I know I am not alone in this. But here's what really makes life less of a grind - and I'll say it loud and clear here! - to actually DO THE GRIND - the gritty stuff like self-care and eating right, etc. those things actually help me feel less grind-y and more involved in real life. Otherwise I am just going through the motions in my work, and not really caring deeply for myself, or anyone else by extension.
And as for my work? The main work I need to do is make my work more financially sustainable. Though it often feels like "one more thing I have to do" it, too, is like going to the gym and eating right and meditating - essential self-care. Baseline self-care. And it all helps me be more present and truly compassionate for my students, my wife, my life.