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Tattoos of Compassion

A tattoo lasts a long time. Some tattoos we put on our bodies for assorted reasons. Some Indigenous peoples ascribe spiritual significance to the markings inscribed on their bodies. Some of us have tattoos inscribed into our consciousness. Some of these tattoos we have inscribed, have significance and our approval, but others we have allowed to be inscribed without our conscious permission.

Indelible, profound, and often invisible, these tattoos often influence our attitude and orientation to life.

In the AHIAH Beloved community monthly circles, we are discussing the concepts of Dirty pain and Clean pain. Dirty pain being that type of pain which is suppressed, but still manages to leak out and spray itself all over everyone in the room.

There is a law of physics that states that Energy never dissipates, it only changes form. And so, when we suppress energy that has impacted us, it will find a way to leak out. The image that comes to my mind is like trying to hold a balloon under the water, it does its best to pop out! Have you ever had someone try to blow their dirty pain out on you? If you can’t think of anyone, just take a drive on your local freeway.

The energy being released is really their suffering. My Djola sister Annette, (she and I took African Ancestry DNA testing and discovered our ancestors have lived together for centuries in West Africa) sent me a video once of a woman raging. When you turn the volume off on this video, you could “see” her pain rather than her anger. Her pain elicited a twinge of compassion in me where I was able to listen to that which the ears could never hear. I could sense that pain in her which even the eyes could not see when hearing her raging words.

But because there is a tattoo of compassion in my heart, I could become aware of her suffering, and I could also become aware of the compassion inside of me.

Sometimes these tattoos on the heart come from experiences in our life that we might have judged as bad, or wrong, like it shouldn’t have happened, and yet, we have to ask ourselves, “do we really have all the information?” Later in life, through our spiritual practice and awakening, we will open to the insight that Spirit inspires in us and we can see the Presence carrying us through that event.

Because I was somewhat of a headstrong child, my mom had challenges with me. I was book smart, but my emotional intelligence was stymied as we find with many young people nowadays. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Yet, I was determined to forge my own path in life. When she said to me, “Boy don’t touch that stove, it's hot!” I said (to myself of course), “Oh yeh? How hot?” as I found a way to touch that stove!

But my grandmother prophesized “Boy you don’t believe that fat meat is greasy. But, you are gonna find out though! Mark my words!” She was right. I learned who I really am by having been who I am not. Can you relate to that?

Later I learned that the tattoos of compassion had been installed in my heart and I learned how to give kindness and compassion to myself. Later in life as I learned about the spiritual principles of recovery, I began to see that “when you spot it you got it”. What I had judged in my parents (and many others) I became. It was not until I learned compassionate self-forgiveness that I was able to forgive those who I had judged as responsible for my suffering.

You may have heard me mention my belief that we are all in Earth School. In regular school they give you the lessons in advance so you can study for the test that is coming. In Earth School you get the test first (!) so you can absorb the lesson. Some of us never do get the lesson, however. We keep getting the same tattoo over and over and wondering “Why is this always happening to me?”

Some of us do not pay attention in class. We are looking out the window, thinking about what we’re going to do later. Daydreaming in class. That was me. I was always pondering, “When is this crisis gonna be over so I can get on with my life?”

But the lesson is that compassion is a call that goes out on a loudspeaker, but only some of us will answer it.
There is a research center at Stanford called The Center for Compassion And Altruism Research And Education.

They define compassion as "the feeling that arises in witnessing another's suffering and that motivates a subsequent desire to help.”

The Buddha taught that “to aspire to compassion is the noblest quality of the human heart; the motivation underlying all meditative paths of healing and liberation.”

How do we practice it? By exercising dominion in our consciousness. Sometimes it is obvious that a person has been infected with a thought virus. I define a Thought Virus as “An idea that overrules all other ideas.” And an infected person may attempt to infect you with their Thought Virus. When we judge it, we get infected, and we suffer. Instead, we can move to our center of being. We can inoculate ourselves against thought viruses and increase our immunity factor.

Brother Ishmael Tetteh, spiritual director of the Etherean Mission in Accra Ghana, will be here at AHIAH on Apr 28 delivering a wisdom talk and workshop. Brother Ishmael is a dear friend of mine who I witnessed teaching the children in his center how to inoculate themselves against fear and hurt.

He uses a simple physical anchoring mechanism and a statement/affirmation “Its not about me” followed by speaking the spiritual truth like “The loving presence of God is ever present and never absent. I am a divine loving being steeped in compassion for myself and others.”

By speaking the Truth, we activate our spiritual operating system and exercise dominion in our own consciousness. We exercise power over what we think next. We move our point of awareness, our point of focus, shifting our consciousness from appearance to the truth behind it. It is not an easy practice and takes repetitive effort, but we learn best through our repetition and emotional involvement.

The Buddha taught us to remember that we can assert at any time the following prayer: “May I be at Peace, May I be free from suffering, May all beings be at Peace, May all beings be free from suffering.”

How simple it is to embody your life learning by inscribing tattoos of compassion into your own heart. While not easy, it simply takes practice and a constant realization that “what’s thought about, comes about,” “what’s talked about comes about” and remembering that “it’s not what happens that counts, it’s what we THINK about what happens that helps us to be happy, joyous and free from the bondage of self.”

May you be at Peace. Namaste.

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