Post number 8 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

Compassion is at the core of what we do, as Jedi. And, I believe, what we do as human beings. Compassion is our capacity to open ourselves to other people, other ideas and experiences and things. The key application of compassion relates to understanding the feelings of other people; to empathise with their suffering or share in their joy. Cultivating a compassionate outlook broadens our view of the world. It enables us to live not just our own pocket of life, but many lives, the lives of all those we meet, read about, see on TV. To be compassionate is to be awake; not solely living within our own heads.

As I mentioned, as Jedi compassion is central to our beliefs. Why help others? Why benefit anyone but ourselves? Who cares if what we do is at the detriment of those around us? The answer lies in compassion. And why is that core to the Jedi? Because of our overarching (or perhaps, underlying) connection to all things through the Force. We understand we are the left hand where others are the right, and that to harm or deprive another is only to harm or deprive ourselves. As Jedi we seek to balance our outlook. We don’t grab everything for ourselves, and nor do we leave ourselves with nothing for someone else’s benefit. We give, and take, in equal proportion. We put back as much as we withdraw. Such is the action of balance; such is the action of return.

And as humans, we live in compassion whether we are “compassionate people” or not. Compassion allows us to learn. Humans are not turtles, deposited in the sand as eggs, left to fend for ourselves from birth. We are social creatures, learning about pain or pleasure from our fellow humans, be that our parents, our friends, or those we see as enemies. Humans are the Force experiencing itself, learning about itself, reacting and growing and evolving within itself. We are a creative, compassionate impulse.

So where do we run into trouble with compassion? Compassion can be at the expense of oneself. Compassion for people who take without giving back will always leave someone with a negative balance. Whilst that’s not an excuse to be “incompassionate” towards those individuals (as in actively antagonistic), there’s no sense in pouring love into a vacuum. Those who expect compassion whilst showing none do not generally tend to learn compassion through its constant application; rather, they notice what they lack when it is withdrawn because of their actions. And if not, there is no net loss; rather, we retain a share of the compassionate energy we would have otherwise wasted, and can spend it in more productive ways.

Another way of looking at this is to put ourselves in the position of those who expect compassion whether they return it or not. What underlies this belief that we deserve compassion in every instance? If I punch you in the face and it hurts my hand, does my need for compassion at my bruised knuckles outweigh your need for compassion for your broken nose? And yet people seem to expect a degree of compassion from other humans every time. I am not advising that we become cold or hard to other people if they hurt us, or slight us. I’m not suggesting we should bear grudges or hatred for those who cause us pain. But I am suggesting that we owe love to ourselves, too, and that where appropriate, we should close some doors. Compassion is not finite, but it does require some nurturing; too much wasted compassion can turn a person cold whether they want it to or not.

The world is wide, filled with beautiful people. There is so much compassion needed out there and so many who richly deserve it; so many giving, at the detriment of their own store of that compassionate energy. And we need so much for ourselves, too, even from ourselves. I suggest compassion is best spent where it is needed, where it is appreciated, where it fills a hole; not where it plunges into a bottomless pit.

Compassion, then, is a feeling of unity and harmony with that which is “other” than ourselves. And it is a feeling of totality, of harmony and unity with ourselves, too. It is a very Forcely thing, in other words. It’s a holistic approach to the things we find, never a “poor you”, but a “let’s do this together”. Compassion is therefore active, never passive. Passive compassion is better described as pity when applied to negative situations, or living vicariously when applied to aspirational or positive ones. Both of these things remove us from the grounding effect of compassion, which enables us to live with our fellow man, rather than gazing at them from afar. It allows us to build up what we find low down, and to rise up to meet that which is above us.

Compassion is the heart of what we do.