Finding Purpose and Direction Through Compassion

Every once in a while, I get really, really, really caught up in my goals. Sometimes it’s because I am so very excited about them, I’m on the edge of my seat — like I’m watching a basketball game or exciting movie — I just can’t wait to see whether my goal will be met, and how.

ire4Sometimes, though, it’s just the opposite. I don’t know what my goals should be; and it feels like no matter how hard I strain my intuition, my logic, or my emotion, I just can’t figure out what I ought to be doing with my time. My old goals that fired me up a month ago seem lifeless or petty; and all the new ones I come up with seem boring, or too ambitious, or out of character for me, or inappropriate somehow.

When I’m in this state, it’s like I’m deaf or blind. I’m so wrapped up in my worry, I can’t really hear music, or see the colors in the sky or the trees. I can see them — but I don’t. It’s like I’ve forgotten how.

Either way, I end up thrashing around rudderless and graceless until I catch myself up short. “Whoa, Nelly!” I say to myself. “Slow down before you hurt somebody.”

Your Ego is Screaming

I’ve let my ego take over. It’s talking so loudly, I can’t hear anything else. Either it’s totally self-absorbed in chasing its little goals, or it’s afraid of picking the wrong goals, and its fear is making it deaf.

And in both situations, the solution is the same: put the ego to sleep for a while.

Yes, it’s true that you can use magic, the Law of Attraction, or intention manifestation to place an order with the universe and get your heart’s desire; but it comes at a cost. It takes soul energy, emotional force, spiritual power. And ultimately the ego can’t provide that energy. It has to quiet down and get out of the way so that you can pull that energy from its true source, Spirit.

Distract the Child

So, how do you shut down the ego? The simple answer is: think about something different. Think about anything at all, as long as it’s not yourself and your goals. Pick your favorite hobby, and concentrate on that for a week. Do something that takes you out of yourself.

Sometimes that’s all it takes. A week spent riding your bike, washing your car, catching up on old friends, building model trains, reading something funny — and the fog lifts.

Sometimes, though, it’s not so easy. If achieving your goals is really important to your ego, it’s not about to let go without a fight of some sort. If creditors are knocking on your door, or your marriage is falling apart, or you’ve been diagnosed with something life-threatening, trying to distract yourself with stamp collecting just isn’t going to do the trick. And of course, that’s when you need direction from Spirit most.

In these cases, the best thing I’ve found is a little bit of mental jujitsu from Buddhist meditation. It’s called “the loving kindness meditation”, and like a brilliant martial arts maneuver, it takes the energy that’s been pouring into your ego and redirects it away from yourself, toward the Universal Soul, so that you can be empty and quiet enough to receive instructions from Spirit.

The way it works is deceptively simple. It is not a visualization meditation, although one could easily be developed around it. It is a simple set of affirmations.

How to Do the Loving Kindness Meditation

Get comfortable, in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Put the words of the meditation — which I’m about to give you — on a piece of paper and keep it handy. (Alternatively, you can click here to download an mp3 of me guiding you through the meditation, and listen to that.) Take some deep, calming breaths, and relax your whole body.

Now you can start. Begin by affirming your love for yourself:

I love myself.
May I be free from anger.
May I be free from sadness.
May I be free from pain.
May I be free from all suffering.
May my body be healthy and strong.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be happy.
May I be at peace.

These are words that you can affirm and be in tune with even if you are drowning in egotistical fear. And the wonderful thing is that by focusing your attention on love, goodwill, and healing, you divert the ego’s attention away from fear; and as soon as that happens, the ego begins to lose its grip on you.

Then you expand your love and compassion out to your friends and associates:

I spread this loving kindness out.

I send love to those who are dear to me.
May they be free from difficulties, free from pain, free from sadness.
May they be free from anger and ill-will. May they be healthy and happy. May they be at peace.

I send loving kindness to my friends and associates.
May they be free from difficulties, free from pain, free from sadness.
May they be free from anger and ill-will. May they be healthy and happy. May they be at peace.

Now the ego’s attention is directed away from itself, towards the ones you love. As you imagine their happiness, your attention is drawn further away from yourself.

As the meditation proceeds, you are pulled further and further away from your personal troubles and desires, out beyond the edges of the universe to the limits of the imagination:

I send love and kindness to all the people of the world, known and unknown, everywhere on earth.
May all on this planet be free from suffering.
May they be free from grief, pain, and despair.
May they be happy and at peace.

May all beings in the universe be free from suffering.
May all beings in all universes, everywhere, be free from suffering.
May they be well, and happy, and at peace.

May all beings of all kinds, in all directions, be happy and at peace.
Above and below, near and far, high and low.
All types of beings.
Humans and non-humans. Seen and unseen. May they be happy; may they be at peace.

I open my heart and receive loving kindness of all beings in return. I let that love into my heart.

May all be well and happy.
May there be peace.

By the end of the meditation, your egotistical fear-energy has been flipped on its head, and your heart is filled with compassion and peace. As with all meditations, if you practice it enough, it becomes completely instinctive. You can backflip from ego-driven fear to universal compassion in just a few seconds. It practically gives me whiplash, and sometimes I have to sit down!

And then the messages from Spirit will start to flow again. It may be directly related to the meditation — you may be inspired to find ways to turn that compassion into action by helping others in some new way. Or it may be indirect — a chance word from a friend, the fall of a shadow on the wall, or nothing at all, may find its way into your heart now that it is open; and the colors in the world will come flooding back.

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11 thoughts on “Finding Purpose and Direction Through Compassion”

  1. Bodhichita – I love it.
    I used to find it really, really difficult and still do at times when, as you say, the ego is performing.
    But it’s a terriffic way to reacknowledge Spirit.

    Love,
    Terri (err..Erin Astra Serene, sorry) in Joburg

  2. Jeff,

    Not to stray off topic too much, but I just came inside from doing something else — in today’s case, trimming a tree and hauling the clippings to the woods behind my house. It’s the simplest way I know to reboot my energy and wear out my ego — do something completely different.

    Because I spend so much time in my head or working at mentally-draining activities sitting at the computer, I break up each and every single day with small tasks — preferably outside.

    If I’m struggling to listen to my guides, or interpret the messages from the guides of another person, or writing — even if I’m not feeling especially blocked or overwhelmed — and absolutely when I do — I go do something mindless, manual, and productive.

    I clean things. I feed the birds. I mow the lawn. I sweep the driveway.

    These kinds of simple tasks are when I receive the best clarity — not staring at the screen. I bring the renewed energy back in with me, when I’m literally running back inside to get to the computer. The worst thing you can do is sit and push the river.

  3. Jeff,

    You describe that state that descends so damn well… and boy do I know it.

    Like Slade, I find that physical “mindless” work is great for getting back into the flow again… I use housework personally. Which is great for letting go of all thought and just moving intuitively through the house, doing what needs doing as it needs doing. It’s also great for the house 😉

    And know you’ve given me another wonderful tool for making that switch! Thank you!

    KL

  4. Kara-Leah, Slade, and Erin 😉 ,

    I apologize for not answering and thanking you for your comments before now — it’s been a hectic time. Plus, there’s actually a major problem with this post that I didn’t recognize until an Attentive Reader gently pointed it out! Did anyone else notice that a great number of affirmations in this meditation are negative? I don’t actually use the words “no” or “not” much, but statements like “free from suffering” are negative, and can actually increase the level of suffering you’re manifesting!

    When I first sat down to compose the text of this meditation, I didn’t see how “negative” it was. Then when I began creating the audio version, I could feel the negative energy, and I hastily revised the text. The words in the downloadable guided meditation are much more positive.

    But then, when I sat down to write this post, I inadvertently used the older version of the text, without thinking about it. (Another lesson in mindfulness…!)

    The upshot is that in the next few days, I’ll be providing the more positive version.

    In the meantime: thanks for your comments! Terri, I think the bodhicitta (sp?) is a theme we’ll be seeing a lot of over the next months and years. I think it’s intimately tied to the notion of humanity’s Ascension. And Slade and Kara-Leah, thanks in particular for all your ideas for reconnecting with Spirit. Your methods certainly have the advantage over my guided meditation — the meditation won’t mow the lawn or clean the house…

  5. Jeff,

    I actually did NOT notice. But I’m excited that you’ve brought that to my attention.

    About a week ago, I ran across a meme I’ve intended to either execute myself, or share on Spiritual Blogging. The basic idea behind the exercise was to start at the very bottom of your archives, read your old articles, and look for anything that today you would write differently.

    Of course, you may cringe, as I have in doing this — but it’s an opportunity to bring forward some of your past ideas and show how they have evolved.

    This hits me hardest in my decision to no longer use war-mongering vocabulary in describing our relationships with spirit guides. I set myself up in a big way with that, because so much of what I would remove or change is woven throughout.

    Does one edit? Rewrite? Or simply create new versions of those conversations? Or perhaps very consciously examine the evolution itself…

    Where you stumble, there your treasure lies.

  6. Slade, what a neat idea for a meme! I immediately went back and started looking for posts I’d change… I started reading them again in earnest. Some of them are a lot better than I remembered, actually. 😉 Have you read Black Hills Mystery?

    I always really enjoyed reading compilations of an author’s past work, especially when the author provided extra commentary padding around the articles, putting them in a larger context. It made me feel as if I was sitting in the author’s living room, sharing a warm drink, and hearing all these private details…

    So that’s what I’m going to do when I issue my own compilation. In your case, though, it sounds like something a lot more radical is called for. Since the metaphors you use are so central, I think completely new versions are needed, maybe alongside an essay about why you’ve changed your way of talking. (Just my two cents.)

  7. Hey Slade and Jeff,

    I’ve added a new title to my sidebar “Today’s Buried Gem”, and every week I dig through my archives for something that still holds up and yet isn’t in the top ten.

    As I do this, if I stumble across a post that just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore, I delete it. When I do find a post I want to include, I proof read it, and sometimes give it some minor editing. Occasionally, it might get a major edit.

    A blog is a living breathing thing… and as we change, what we write changes… and the old is sometimes no longer relevant.

    This method of revision allows me some license, and seems to be working…

    Much joy,
    KL

  8. “Today’s Buried Gem” — That’s a great idea, KL! Do you find a lot of people look at it?

    I’m not sure I agree with deleting old posts entirely. Some of them can be very meaningful and dear to us readers, even if you no longer agree with them. Do you agree?

  9. I don’t know if it’s a ‘lot’ of people… but whichever post I select usually gets at least 5 views a day, when prior it was usually getting none.

    The posts which I’ve deleted are those which were more personal, me me me orientated – diary entries in a way. Like one written on the first anniversary of my now-defunct marriage.

  10. Jeff,

    Thank you for this. Like others have said, I have felt that kind of pain — the mental whirlwind, I call it. My circle is working on compassion next month, and I would like to use your loving kindness meditation combined with a hand washing ceremony. I look forward to the edited version of the meditation, as well as future posts.

    Angela

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