Compassion (& Common Humanity)
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 22:34-40
Mindfulness brings us back the basic human truth that we are all equal in the sight of God, who keeps no ranking system. When we practice nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, we come back to the shared elements of being human: what we feel on our skin, what we hear in our ears, what we see with our eyes, what we taste in our mouths, what we smell through our noses. We also come back to the negative and fearful thinking patterns that plague the human brain. There is wide room in this awareness to learn the path of love as taught by Jesus.
Jesus’ commands for us to love one another are not veiled in Scripture: they are direct. Less obvious to our modern eyes are the ways that Jesus broke the social ranking codes of his day. He talked with women, he ate with tax collectors, he treated Samaritans as equals, he showed kindness to prostitutes. The group Jesus was harshest with was the Pharisees, who set themselves above everyone else. Jesus was clear that none of us are above any others. He was also clear in His call for us to serve one another and to be unified.
So sharing this human journey together is key to the gospel and also key to the practice of mindfulness. We practice showing compassion to others by seeing them as fellow human beings. We step out of the ranking and judgments that come so naturally, and we enter God’s circle of compassion for ourselves and others.
"The will of God concerns the present moment more than the future; it deals with our motives as well as our actions; it focuses on the little decisions we make every day even more than the big decisions we make about the future. The only time we really have both to know and to do God’s will is the present moment. We are to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves."