Part of what we have not been able to remember and use in our spiritual work is the fact that everyone around us is just like us. All the people in our lives -- even people walking by us on the street -- are seen by us (in our present way of experiencing life) as being disparate, something different to condemn or condone, to embrace or push away based on what we perceive in them. What we don't understand is that we can't meet someone with a quality in them that we don't share in some measure because we've known the experience ourselves.
Compassion starts with this understanding that every human being on the planet looks different from us because physically we are different, but inwardly we all live in the same pool. We all have pain and pleasure, we all share emotions that wave through that pool. He is not different than I am. . . he may be over on the west bank, so the waves that he knows are different than the waves I know on the east bank. But if I get close enough (which I can because inwardly we share the pool), I can see that I've got west bank waves in me as well.
Have you ever looked at someone and thought, "How could that person be like that?" and then by the grace of God discovered that you had done the same thing before, only called it something different? This is a beautiful realization because it proves to us that it is intended for those of us who would have a higher life to use everyone's life for our own development. We tend to think we're alone, and we try to figure out how to get everything worked out and resolved based on our own content. We never get it done!
We have all of these various energies, primordial forces really, and we're cut off from them because there is a part of us that separates us through thinking, "I'm different than you are. . . can't you see that?" Or, we look at someone and we say, "I want to be like you." All of this isolation takes place and we don't realize that we could work differently with people than we do. We meet people from this position of being impenetrable (which is always fearful), not wanting to taste what they are going through because it's something else we think we have to "deal with." Whatever we resist in another person, not only are we going to have to deal with it, we're going to have to die to it in ourselves before we can be free of the resistance we feel so that it can change our experience.
Instead of walking through our days meeting people with this iron-sheeted, closed-off nature that we presently act from, we can begin to let down our guard. This doesn't mean to identify with negativity or cruelty in other people. Rather, we can certainly see their negative emotions, and because we have known hostility, fear, and hate in ourselves, instead of punishing others for their state, we can begin to help them do what they must do, which is to fall back on themselves when we don't take part in their negativity the way we have always done.
Did you know that whenever you resist someone's negative state, you actually further engender and enable that person's negativity? So, meet people differently! Learn to meet people with this quiet inner request: "What can I learn about myself from you?" Try it. You won't believe the difference it will make in what will come up in you and what you can learn about yourself because of what does come up.
As we participate in this completely different order of relationship -- the root of it having to do with being aware of the other person -- compassion is born. There is no compassion that exists in sleeping human beings in unconscious relationship, except for the fallacious compassion we express in order to make ourselves feel like we're compassionate. Real compassion has to do with realizing that conscious relationship is the root of our very existence, which by its existence is trying to get us to wake up a little bit and enter into those relationships which make it possible for our lives to become what they're intended to be.