Sunday Service: The Limits of Compassion

Love balloons

Week of Oct 27 – Nov 2, 2013

Compassion has always puzzled me. When I was a child, I used to ask myself why anyone would be compassionate voluntarily. Compassion sounded like a good social rule, but it didn’t make sense in the depths of my heart.

What made sense was love. I felt it. I knew it. It was a natural emotion, and the goodness people ascribed to compassion seemed also to exist in love.

So I focused on love when I was young, and I let compassion go. I didn’t pay much attention.

But as I got older, I took a second look at compassion. With so many people using the word, I had to establish a better relationship with what it meant to be compassionate.

Below is what I found when I looked at compassion. While compassion is good, it still seems to pale by comparison to selfless love.

But don’t take this statement at face value. Read on and I’ll explain what I mean.

Peter Kowalke


LoveThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

The Limits of Compassion

by Peter Kowalke

Don’t be compassionate.

Compassion is okay. We can have compassion for others, and this will make us happier and more fulfilled. But we can do better: We can love.

The difference between compassion and love is the difference between walking five minutes each morning and jogging for 45. Compassion is generously, selflessly giving to others. Which is good. But how much better to give and not even realize you’re being selfless? This is a higher state of giving, at once easier and more profound in its effects on the giver and the receiver. This higher state of giving can only come from loving, which is the act of finding yourself in another person to the point that you stop thinking of them as someone else.

But let’s step back. Why give at all?

(read more)


The Way of ZenBook of the Month

The Way of Zen

by Alan Watts

Watts takes the reader back to the philosophical foundations of Zen in the conceptual world of Hinduism, follows Buddhism’s course through the development of the early Mahayana school, the birth of Zen from Buddhism’s marriage with Chinese Taoism, and on to Zen’s unique expression in Japanese art and life.

Many popular books have been written on Zen since Watts’ time, but few have been able to muster the rare combination of erudition and clarity that have kept The Way of Zen in readers’ hands decade after decade.

(more about the book)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend audio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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