Fifth Stone: Compassion

The greatest mystery
Redemption in suffering
The Cross


"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:24)

"the riches of glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you." (Colossians 1:27)

"But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings . . . . If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you." (I Peter 4:13-14)

"There is no worship without sacrifice." Gandhi

For anything to live, something must die. Compassion is the most divine of all energies; the shepherd of being. If our very existence is coexistence, then it follows that the more we share in the life of our brothers and sisters, the more fully we live ourselves. To have compassion is to be willing to share the life of another in such a way that their joy and sorrow becomes our own. It is to be willing to suffer with another and to do for them that which we would have had done for ourselves in similar circumstances. Jesus taught his disciples that if they would have eternal life, then they must be willing to give up their restricted lives and be willing to live for, in, and through others.

This is a mystery that goes against the grain and common sense of the world whose mantras are "You deserve the best", self-fulfillment and "Be all you can be." Except in rare cases of extreme circumstances it is not our human nature to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others. Our human nature is to be self-protective and self-seeking, often at the expense of others. It takes great faith and great love to be released from anxiety about one's own well-being in order to be wholly present for others. Jesus willingly accepted death in order to teach his disciples how to live. He became his own greatest parable, a koan, an icon. To the extent we are able to make sacrifices for others, we become, like Christ, agents of redemption and reconciliation. We become Christ to others.

The final goal of the spiritual journey is union with God. Jesus spoke about this goal in John 17:21, "As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us." He also said, "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40)

This is That. There is no ultimate distinction between you and I. And the universe is summed up in both of us, together.