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Practice Circle on Love & Compassion – Interspiritual Meditation Course
Practice Circle on Love & Compassion2018-05-15T11:24:13-08:00

Practice Circle on Love and Compassion

The sickness of love is not like any other;
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.
Whether Love is from heaven or earth,
it points to God.

However I may try to explain it,
When faced with Love itself
I’m ashamed of my explanations.
Whatever the tongue can make clear,
Love’s silence is better.

—Mathnawi I, 110-111 of Jalaluddin Rumi

In this step of ISM, we are focussing on love and compassion.  Why?  Because they are the highest of human intentions and the gateway into deep and sublime states of meditation.  Indeed, the quality of our meditation and our own health and happiness are proportional to the quality of our altruistic love for both ourselves and others.

But the reality for most of us is that we are just not always loving and compassionate!  Therefore, we turn to the great exemplars to show us the way and to inspire us when we need generate and to be absorbed in love and compassion.

Please share your writings on love and compassion in your weekly journal.  Or share the words of great teachers who have inspired you and helped you achieve a loving and compassionate state of being.  What methods are you finding to help you to generate love and compassion?

Please share a summary of your present contemplative insights on the step in the practice circle below. Condense your journal writing (into 2,000 characters or less) and post it in a comment box below. Your personal experiences with this step of the meditation will be gifts to everyone.  Please don’t be shy about sharing.


  1. Ed Bastian April 15, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Please share your emerging contemplative insights on love and compassion in the boxes below.

  2. nancy.bray@yahoo.com May 18, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    “Everything comes down to love”. My friend shared this phrase with me several years ago and I saw how just those words helped me so. If I felt conflicted about something or someone or was challenged in some way I would remember those words and all circumstances, all situations seemed instantly solvable. It is very easy for me to see that love & compassion are the foundation for health and happiness, an elixir for pure joy.
    Bravely, I share these two poems: one I wrote a long time ago and one I wrote this evening.

    We’re closer now you and I
    But you and I we hide
    We’re closer now you and me
    But its only you or it’s only me

    We’re closer now to being us
    And it’s us I want to be
    But I’m as scared as you
    And you’re as scared as me

    I dream of how it’s going to be
    When its natural to be we
    And that will be when you are you
    And only when I am me


    Light the candle
    Settle thy feet
    if you’re brave enough
    It’s you you’ll meet

    Begin the dance
    Your breath to lead
    And follow, oh follow
    Your divinity

    Repeat as before
    Day in and day out
    Don’t rob yourself
    Of this transcendent route

    Give thanks for your dream
    Which found its way to your lap
    Tell all you can tell
    Of its miraculous sap

  3. awolfe May 18, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    I learned love not only from my parents, but especially from my twin, since for a moment we actually were one person. That is where I learned to love another like myself, for we were one, and then separate, and we were so connected that we didn’t feel the need to demonstrate love for one another for many years.
    God is love. We are taught this in my tradition, but I had my twin sister tell me this from her heart when we were in our early thirties. She had a litter of puppies, and one of them died. As she held this perfect little dead puppy, she felt a strong message of “It is ok, I am love, that is all that matters”, and it was as if God were speaking to her directly. She felt at one with this message, and felt that she had learned life’s biggest lesson as she told me this story. She lived another 15 years, but I believe she carried that lesson with her up until her death, and she truly “got it” that day. Love is what we are all here for, and it is our lesson to learn. It is how God sees us, and how we should see the world – with love, with compassion, with caring, and then we are who God truly means for us to be. Love one another. Love your family, yes, but also your neighbor, and the stranger, and even the unloveable (though that can be harder for we are only human!)
    I also learned from my husband, Joseph –
    To love and be loved by someone for 35 years, and to be married to him, that is a lesson in love, and an example. I thought I was good at unconditional love, and yet when Joseph died I realized that he was the teacher – I was not as good at it as he was. I then really appreciated how well he loved – how he supported me in all I wanted to do, and did not criticize me or tear me down, but built me up and encouraged me. There was also the component of mutual respect, and believing the best of the other. I am way better off for it, and will strive to live up to his example.
    And my grandson, AJ age at 4 ½ he said: “Amie, I will always take care of you, and when I am older, I will do even more.”
    From my tradition we have lots of Jesus’ teachings on love, and this from Desmond Tutu:
    We are each made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world when we live these truths.
    From Ghandi:
    In doing something do it with love, or don’t do it at all.
    The Dalai Lama:
    Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
    Black Elk:
    All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.
    The soul of the soul of the universe is love.
    So love and compassion is not just a spiritual style, but it is a lifestyle, and so it can be lived each day, and ideally at each moment of each day – it becomes a practice. When one looks at the world, and each we meet, with love and compassion the world is a better place – there is more connection, and more joy. We can then be inspired to act as our best selves, and hopefully to make the world a better place. Through love we are connected with the nature of the Divine.
    In living with love and compassion for all we may take on the sufferings of others, especially if it is outside of our power to fix something. We are only human, so it is hard to live this all the time. I am thinking we must therefore be gentle with ourselves so that we don’t beat ourselves up when we fall short. And I do find myself falling short way too often! How can I support my quest to live this way to the best of my ability? I seek wisdom for support – to be wise in one’s expectations of oneself, how much one can do, and how to be tolerant of one’s shortcomings. Hopefully wisdom can also focus me, and help me to see what needs to be done, and how to surrender to become my greater, connected self where I can BE love and be best able to be of service to all. Nature can refresh us when we need a boost – to see the world through fresh eyes, and to be ready and renewed to do more with love and compassion. Prayer can be useful, to help us find our best selves, and to offer it for others, and the arts can be a form of expression of the journey towards living love and compassion. Meditation serves to calm, focus and strengthen a person, and hopefully lead to new insights in this quest.
    And so I hope to use the tools of love and compassion (and wisdom) to be transformed INTO love and compassion.

  4. awolfe May 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

    This morning the leader of my tradition, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, gave an outstanding homily on love and compassion at the Royal Wedding. I thought I would share it with all of you – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgluP3BkVaA

  5. susiej@jetbroadband.com May 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Re the post above by awolfe, I saw the address at the royal wedding on TV and was very impressed! Several years ago I used to think that it was just my mindset, from an interest in such things, that picked up on so many messages of love, empathy, mindfulness, etc. that are out there in our world. But now I’m seeing so many indications in so many places that I am convinced the world is really starting to “get it.” In spite of its many detrimental effects on our society, I think the global communication created by the Internet is in large part the reason for this. It gives me great hope for the future. Maybe it is not too late for our species to save ourselves and our planet.

    In regards to the power of love, I have been very inspired by a newscast I saw recently, and sine seeing it have thought of it many times. A small boy, about five years old, asked his father why homelessness happens and his father gave him an answer. The boy decided to do something about it and since then has been handing out sandwiches to the homeless (while wearing a red cape 🙂 with a message: “Don’t forget to show love.” (Just thinking of the image of this small, sweet, caring child brings tears to my eyes.) I also think of my sister, who is my hero in so many ways for her compassion and empathy for others, always ready to help people in ways that will truly benefit them. She reminds me of the story of a Zen priest who was asked, what is your practice? And he answered: “Whatever is needed.”

    P.S. Thank you everyone for your posts! It really enriches the experience of this course to hear what others are thinking and your takeaways.

  6. crisgarli@icloud.com May 20, 2018 at 9:28 am

    In reflecting on love and compassion, I am reminded of how they are coupled with understanding. If we are truly aspiring to be a kind and loving person to all sentient beings we need to understand where they are coming from. There is a story of two children who share a bedroom and one wakes up in the nick of time to get dressed and ready for school. She tells her sister to get up but she just groans and then she throws off her covers and tells her to hurry up. When her sister yells at her and tells her to go away she goes downstairs and complains to her mother about her ungrateful sister. Her mother tells her that her sister was up half the night throwing up and is very sick. Sometimes when we assume something, make a judgement and then act as if we are being helpful, we might step back and say, “Maybe I didn’t understand fully.” I am still learning this lesson after living with my husband for 50 years. We have different likes and dislikes and it is only with looking at the situation from his point of view, that I have learned to grow those feelings of love and compassion.

  7. moses@otyek.com May 21, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Wow! What a journey. I now realize that I did not understand love until I read the definition in the ISM text.
    To love is about others – wish the best for them and truly mean it
    To have compassion is to wish that any suffering is removed from others and truly mean it
    To have great compassion is to vow to remove the suffering of other beings and do it at all costs

    So this is what Jesus had for us? Jesus totally dedicated himself to remove the suffering of others of all mankind. How much love is that! It is overwhelmingly great! With this knowledge I am in awe with what Jesus did for man, and it is now all beginning make sense. Love is the key. If all beings had love and truly felt that love for themselves and others how great would this world be!

    The love and compassion that Jesus displayed in his life on earth is what has made him the the true example of how we should live.

  8. Elaine Catterall May 21, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Greetings all! As I live in the UK it is not practical for me to join in with the live webcasts but I very much appreciate being a part of this truly inspiring learning journey, and enjoy tuning in after the live recording. I felt moved to contribute to this practice circle following Bishop Michael’s passionate and heartfelt address at the Royal Wedding held at Windsor. What was so awe inspiring about his presence was how passionate, heartfelt and genuine his words were and in stark contrast to the usual contained and formal (often flat) sermons that we so often hear in many Churches of England. We British are somewhat squeamish of such open hearted declarations of love! and yet it was this that resonated with my recent readings and meditations on love and compassion.
    As an Athiest, I find nourishment for my soul in the giving and receiving of unconditional love – through being in relationship with all beings, including Self. It is a heart felt experience that is expansive and affirms that all is well and true in this moment, despite the terrible suffering that exists all around. It is at these moments, that here is no doubt for me that love and God are synonymous and exist everywhere- within me and beyond. It is often a fleeting presence but the more I share in loving kindness mediations with others, and use heart focused breathing, the more open I can be to all that comes my way.Communing in Nature is also a way that connects me with this life affirming rhythm. I know this in my heart but not always easy to return to this loving source.
    I loved reading the book of Joy recently that recounts a week long dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Rev Desmond Tutu. So much grace and good humour in spite of personal tragedy and suffering- A text I will return to often I think. Sent with heartfelt love to you all. Elaine x

  9. moses@otyek.com May 23, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Thank you for sharing that Elaine. Thanks to your comment I watched the sermon at the royal wedding too. Wow! What a well orated description of love.

  10. susiej@jetbroadband.com May 24, 2018 at 11:26 am

    In re to the post by Elaine above, I am so happy to see a post from one who identifies as an atheist yet feels “no doubt…that love and God are synonymous and exist everywhere- within me and beyond. It is often a fleeting presence but the more I share in loving kindness mediations with others, and use heart focused breathing, the more open I can be to all that comes my way. Communing in Nature is also a way that connects me with this life affirming rhythm. I know this in my heart but not always easy to return to this loving source.” In terms of practice I am pretty much a Buddhist, but in the same vein as Ani DeFranco, who has said: “It’s my guiding star but not the planet I live on.” Yet for a self-identifying label I’ve come to see myself as an “atheist with an asterisk.” The asterisk is added because, although I don’t believe in a God figure in any traditional sense, I’ve had some transcendent experiences so powerful that I’ve come to feel that behind the scenes of everything we know as “reality” there is an all-encompassing, life- and love-affirming energy that permeates everything . And through my spiritual practice I have learned it is possible to become more receptive to that energy and deepen our connection to its power. Many people feel that atheists are cold, unfeeling beings with no connection to anything spiritual. That may be true of some atheists, but there are also many who are joyful, compassionate, and deeply spiritual.

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