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My Day of Compassion

Essay by Vladimir Filipescu, IBA 2016

I have started my practice of being as consciously compassionate as possible


yesterday afternoon, on the 23rd of November, while walking downtown towards the
Faculty of Business. It was an instant decision after some internal deliberation
whether I want to do it or not. Once I decided to accept the yes, do it inner voice,
the next moment I set my intention to put compassion as a perceptive filter, given
the current and possibly projected circumstances of my life.
The next minute, I was standing at the crosswalk next to Rialdas shop waiting for the
traffic light to turn green. On the other sidewalk, I noticed two clown-like dressed
persons, one adult and one child - no more than 8 years old. The adult clown was
playing quite good at the accordion some known sad old Romanian songs and was
sitting behind the child clown, who was also sitting on a plastic box with a hat in his
hands a grail for collecting the passers pecuniary benevolence. The air was rather
cold and one conscious thought rose in my mind: God, they should be really cold out
there!
Although another thought reminded me I no longer use to offer cash to people
performing on the street, I crossed the street and took a small detour deciding to put
a 5 ron note in that hat along with some blessings. When I put the note in the hat, I
looked into the eyes of the adult clown it was a woman and I could swear I saw her
somewhere else in Cluj! She thanked me along with the child and continued to play
without interruption. I departed feeling somehow part of that street experience not
because of giving away the money, but because of the striking feeling I know that
woman from somewhere else and because of the glimpse of gratitude I felt in her
eyes. We connected with each other for less than 2 seconds, yet the resonance of
gratitude touched both of us. I did not have a pity resembling feeling which, by DEX,
is a synonym used to define compassion:
COMPASINE s. f. (Livr.) Mil, comptimire. [Pr.: -si-u-] Din fr. compassion.
Source: Dicionarul explicativ al limbii romne, ediia a II-a

I felt more of a connection between me and those two human beings, it was as if I
almost felt their suffering from being out in cold weather and from having to appeal
to such a way of earning some more small change.
Years ago, when I used to study more of religious and spiritual beliefs of other
nations, the Buddhists practitioners seemed to me remarkably tolerant, peaceful and
altruist. Without having anything against the Christian understanding and practice of
pity, I still felt appropriate to somehow unconsciously calibrate my compassion to be
more towards sympathetic altruism rather than towards pity.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama remarked in The Essence of the Heart Sutra:

"According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others


to be free from suffering. It's not passive -- it's not empathy alone -- but rather an
empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine
compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness. That is to say, one must
understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is
wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient
beings (this is lovingkindness)."
I continued to maintain the aspiration towards wanting others to suffer less as
wanting others to break free from suffering is a higher heart-mind set a possibly
reachable one later in my life. In most of my verbal and non-verbal interventions
during the yesterday classes, I attempted to alleviate the stress of the speakers and to
provide a positive feedback to their presentations.
My behavior was not that much different from my normal day-to-day behavior.
My behavior was just more consciously manifested, using attention as a function of a
better energized personal state of consciousness. A lesson to remember: in all (and I
really mean all) cases when I have consciously or unconsciously set an intention to
experience something in life, that intention brought me into the right contextual
environment which sooner or later aligned to the original intention.
There are clear benefits to projecting moral intentions (like compassion) in the outer
world through a compassionate behavior, like: sanitizing your own life and work
environments and giving a sense of living for a higher purpose which always
inspired human beings to go beyond their agreed upon personal limits. The only
operational cost of behaving compassionately is a diligent daily practice.
Interestingly enough, my colleagues noticed yesterday a keen interest in addressing
questions to speakers throughout the presentations, but could not notice the why I
did it so often.
Yesterdays first half of My Compassion Day continued today with a presentation of a
company in Cluj about its CSR involvement throughout the last 8 years. The topic
resonated somehow with one-to-one or one-to-many manifested compassion,
although any CSR initiatives bear the shadowy burden of some selling hidden
intentions
In four days time, on the 28th of November 2016, the World Compassion Day will
be in its annual observance. It was founded in 2012 by Pritish Nandy, an Indian poet,
journalist, film producer, media and television personality, politician, and activist.
World Compassion Day is based on the concept of ahimsa. It means nonviolence, non-injury or absence of desire to harm any life forms. Ahimsa originated in
Jainism, an Indian religion. It is an important principle in several more religions such
as Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism.
I would like to see this day be noticed in our public and academic environments, as
idealistic as it may sound. I would organize public debates and would strive to reach
at least one main TV channel hoping that World Compassion Day would be
considered appropriate before the imminent elections in Romania.

Practicing compassion on a daily basis comes hand in hand with practicing a simple
exercise of communicating to another person (previously chosen to be our partner in
this self-exploration) one or more reasons why we are grateful on each and every
single day. Reasons could vary very simple, even trivial ones to very special and
unique ones. The gain here is again: the habit of practicing daily gratitude!
The future of mankind is more and more conditioned of the two types of choices we
as a race will embrace: the choice of getting even more estranged from ourselves by
all kind of outer values, concepts and objects or the choice of assuming ourselves
holistically, with lights and shadows, with selfish and selfless approaches. While the
odds of success for the entire race are still unclear, there will be surely individuals
who will embrace the peaceful, compassionate and non-violent way of evolution, in
their personal lives as well as in their professional/ business careers.