Competition vs. Compassion
I wish you a smooth and pleasant start of the year accompanied with a nice deep full inhale and looking forward for a happy, peaceful and healthy year for us all :)
I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and reflections on my own personal journey on the path of yoga.
Competition vs. Compassion
I watched the Dalai Lama speak recently. He was bringing up (as usual) the topic of compassion and how important it is to develop that quality as individuals, but also how crucial it is for human kind as a whole if we are to prosper and live peacefully in a sustainable way. He pointed out that there is too much competition in the world and very little compassion.
This statement threw me back years ago..
Back in my 20's (before I started practicing yoga) I was pursuing a goal very diligently. I studied in film school with the dream of becoming a film maker, of making feature films. This started as a passion, as an expression of joy of the art of making films, but slowly and gradually turned into a pursuit, an identity, a status that I had to acquire. It became more about how I make my mark in the world.
Not that there is an innate wrongness in that, but for me it ended up going sour in many ways and the pure joy was mostly lost.
Many things caused me pain having to do with this ambition and the many failures and very few successes that I had. There were the obvious external obstacles that led to frustration, but also the periods of time when I was completely blocked creatively that caused doubt, insecurity and even hopelessness. Looking back I realize these obstacles were very natural and common, and they weren't the source of the distress that I felt, they were just the symptoms.
After years of yoga it is very clear to me why I could not feel fulfilled in this previous life I had. The most simple reason is that I chose a profession that was not compatible with who I really am, with the essence of my own natural tendencies. This has to do with a very important concept in the yoga tradition which is called "Dharma". To know more about that come to the next master class where we'll discuss it in details.
Another reason for my suffering was that I turned this ambition into an identity. It came to a point where I could only justify my existence if my goals were fulfilled, at least partially.
No matter how many of these goals were fulfilled, it always led to having more goals, more ambitions. It was a bottomless pit.
There was another cause of unhappiness which was not clear to me until I heard the Dalai Lama speak the other day.
I can remember now how I felt a constant state of competition with everyone who had the same dreams as I did, whether they were strangers or friends. This thing was always under the surface. If someone had succeeded in something I wanted for myself I was highly critical of them, thinking they were not "real" film makers, or labeling them as "sellouts". If someone failed I used it as fuel to enhance my pseudo-confidence in myself. Of course I would pretend to support others but that was just part of the "the game".
When I look back I realize that this pattern was all around me, for the most part. I could feel that competitiveness from everyone who was in that field, including very close friends. It was the norm.. This always kept me and them in some state of disconnection.
I know now very clearly that this state is a state of disharmony with my true nature as a human being. The urge to make deep connections with others is deeply engrained in us. We have a strong need to express love and care, to give to others with an open heart.
This is what the Dalai Lama was talking about!
Our default settings are (for whatever reason) - "fulfill myself", "take care of my needs first", "get what I desire and crave for", "get recognition", "protect my interests from others", and so on..
Compassion at its purest form is the feeling of sympathetic joy when seeing others are happy and the feeling of sadness when others are suffering. It is very simple yet so profound.
It is also a strong urge to care for others, to contribute to their happiness and wellbeing, to express love at its purest and unconditional form. This may be one reason why people have a strong urge to have children so that they can express this natural tendency with ease.
We all have the potential to develop compassion within us. The more this is developed, the more broadly it is directed towards others. And, the more we feel compassion and spend time and energy showing care and love for others, the more we ourselves feel fulfilled, happy, and peaceful. Much more than when we just take care of our own individual needs and desires.
The Buddha discovered this 2500 years ago and these days there is more and more scientific data to support that.
My new year resolution - develop more compassion :)
Happy new year!
Looking forward to seeing you at yoga in 2022!
With love and gratitude,
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