This title may seem like a mistake, but I assure you there is more to understand about compassion, than anything else in life.
During a time, when I had a most unfortunate break with reality; I found myself confined once again into some kind of mental health facility. Waking up in one of these places is never a great feeling. Usually, because my thoughts begin to level out as soon as I enter, but per the facility’s request, I am not allowed to leave until I can prove, that I am in fact, a conscious human being. And no matter how quickly I get out, it always seems like the grueling surveillance and experimentation went on for far too long.
Why does it always feel too long? Well, because the help that I actually need is not found there. Every moment in one of those places usually feels like a slightly more pleasant version of being trapped in a torture chamber, such as an iron maiden. It is often assumed by the staff of these hospitals, that they are helping the patients recollect themselves and re-integrate into society. And that will be the case for some, but for me, it just felt as though I was being drugged to a point of acquiescence, while simultaneously having my behavior judged as “normal” or “abnormal” in every interaction I had.
It is an unusual situation which creates a reality of paranoia within both the staff and the patient. For the staff want to believe they are helping, and the patient wants to believe they are being treated. In my mind, however, I knew I was zero threat to society, and I knew I could easily go home and work on ways of stabilizing myself through meditation, art, writing, or any number of things. This convinced no one.
When you are slapped with the label of “schizophrenia” people seem to get the most afraid. Though they are doctors, and may have read a little bit about the symptoms. They have no idea what the actual experience is like for that individual. And not only that, but it can differ from person to person. Additionally, they have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be on the anti-psychotics that they “benevolently” prescribe, as they only have an image about it from the words they read in university. Reading is one thing, but experiencing the effects are quite another dimension. Those types of drugs won’t even get a single strand of hair into approaching any type of actual harmony within the mind. All they can really do, is tranquilize the body, so that the patient is easier to talk to.
There was one such time, where I was close to being released, and a senior doctor came into the room where they were talking to me about it. He sat down and said with a bold voice “We can release you, but if you attack any of my staff, I will make sure you are dealt with” (or something to that effect).
This was hilarious to me! I believe, I even giggled a little bit, because of the irony. It almost seemed as though this person needed to be in my chair and scrutinized as the “crazy schizophrenic”. “Attack your staff?” (I think I said), as I began to realize I had best wipe the potentially suspicious smirk off my face. “No… no of course I would never do that.”
This type of distrust has continued as a thread with many other individuals I have interacted with. Always, a type of suspicion that I may desire to harm them, or may harbor intentions for doing so. It is the way of many people to think and worry about the intentions of others. What they are thinking? Why are they saying what they say? What will they do next? This, is a type of limited paranoia that I have never really delved into for very long.
For most who are defined as “schizophrenic” (of which I don’t use that term to label myself any longer, as I am off all anti-psychotic medications) are actually far more likely to harm themselves before they harm anyone else. The state of being pre-supposes a type of inter-connectivity with other selves that goes beyond what most people understand as a possibility within existence. This is usually why indigenous shamans, sages, and mystics are better at handling this state of being than any type of purely westernized doctor, who can’t too often think outside their own small scope of compassion. (Such as the strange type of compassion that has “friends” vs “enemies” or believes a pharmaceutical will cure all ailments)
Do we really know what compassion is? Or do we assume it means controlling the situation?
Contrary to the title, compassion is always necessary. But, we have to understand how our view of it can evolve.
Compassion is as much a skill, as it is a state of being one can reside within. When we are in love, naturally we desire others to feel the same, but when we are in misery; we can inflict that misery to others— unless, we somehow remember that compassion is a choice within the turbulence of our emotional savagery.
For me, I guess I still get a little triggered when anyone asks me “Are you ok?”. Sometimes I can neutralize it through a type of “energy transference”. But, often it feels like the question is a type of creeping suspicion of my usually well-to-do state of being. It is as though the past reverberations of my mental hospital visits still kind of haunt my sentiments. As though, someone doesn’t quite believe it is possible for me to self-sufficiently rise out of the deep-end of a mud pit. Always perceiving splotches of dirt from my past.
For others, they are probably not asked it enough. Some kind of acknowledgement of their feelings could be useful to allow people to vent their emotional energy in a way that is healthier than pent up rage or depression that will come out in a more disturbing way later on.
The things is, that this is not so easy of a question to pose to anyone! Most of the time people will just say “I am fine” in order to avoid having to express anything negative about their life. It is often easier to keep the positive facade going than, it is to admit there needs to be some kind of correction made to anyone that can detect a little bit of it in you.
So how do we know when to help others when they need it? Like the picture above, that illustrates a monkey removing a fish out of water; onto a tree, to be left for dead— there has to be a fundamental understanding of what compassion is.
Compassion is unconditional. There are no demands made through it, nor is there any expectation in it.
In Christmas time, we may assume it is compassionate to buy everyone we know a gift. And therefore, we expect a gift in return. This is probably the most obvious example of unnecessary compassion. If one truly desires to give you a gift, this is good, but if someone expects a gift out of you, this becomes a distortion. Because that is placing a condition on another. And any condition will create a very shallow type of compassion.
Sometimes we say that there is not enough love to go around. Many of us go about in the world and we find very few examples of people giving us attention, gifts, or help when we need it the most. This is definitely from a lack of compassion, but we can easily fall into a very undesirable state of being if we choose to expect that kind of stuff happening to us by happen chance.
The only way we can create more compassion, is not by assuming others will give it to us, but by doing it ourselves. As an example, I have noticed that no one paid much attention to any of my social media posts. I actually got a little sad from this! I was wondering why I was so sad? Why would I stay in that? Instead, I had a profound realization. I had to actually be that random anonymous one who gave out the compassion, that I felt I needed. And so I began liking and commenting on as much content as I could. I instantly felt my sadness go away. Really, I didn’t need anyone to like my work after all. I felt good just expressing to others that their work had value, because deep down I know it to be true, and I was too afraid to show it. Too afraid that maybe I will be looked down upon by people who would hate the things I was liking. But, if all things are love, why not like as much as I am able? Certainly all of us can appreciate any kind of unconditional positive reinforcement that is given to us.
It is best to forgive those who may have said words to you that felt they lacked compassion. Or perhaps you felt as though they insulted you in some way or format through the nature of their personality; that was attempting to have fun, and was ultimately well-meaning in that regard.
You yourself have probably said something out of alignment with another. This too, has to be forgiven because we all have to learn what is best to say through every single unique individual that comes across our path.
Often it is good to not think of others. When we don’t dissipate our energy with worry or fear about how others may think us as “not compassionate”, we can have more energy for ourselves. And as we have compassion and energy for ourselves, then naturally we will find the compassion for others when they actually need it. When someone is in actual distress, or visibly pleading to us for help and assistance; then our compassion cup will be full enough to easily pour them the necessary compassion they need. This is using compassion wisely.
We have to allow the growth of our consciousness to slide through the negativity with this fundamental understanding in mind. This is not meant to be an easy journey, but an enlightening one.