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Going beyond Idiot Compassion

The following page is from two emails by "Ned", a friend with whom I share common interests and perspectives in the spiritual path (MAK):

Just a few thoughts on "idiot's compassion". I have to say I don't think even Trungpa understood what he meant by "idiot's compassion". I think you only forego compassion when you hit your own limitations and have to be firm and establish your boundaries. The notion of "idiot's compassion" is used by the Wilberians to justify their bashing of everyone at "lower stages". But they consider that they are doing people a favour by pointing out to them where they are and where they should go. Personally I think this is nonsense. We have to trust that people know what's best for them (and of course deep down, they all know). And we also have to know that silence is sometimes the best response to people who are not receptive (which is where Mirra is the perfect example of "firm but gentle"). The only times I find myself being harsh is when I feel trapped myself. Otherwise it's not necessary. The only thing that is necessary is mental silence on my part.

Thing is, we all need an outlet now and then, even people like Mirra and Aurobindo. You can see clearly that in their own "psychic community" they would express more informal opinions and say things that were perhaps not meant for the general public or the world at large. Aurobindo has a different tone in his works addressed the world, and a different tone when he is addressing the devotees ( e.g. in Letters on Yoga). But both of them also had dialogues with people from all walks of life, skeptics, materialists, different spiritual traditions and so on. And you can see that they address each person differently, according to their needs. Even Ramana does this -- I think all true gurus will address people according to the stage they are at. This requires immense Psychic growth -- to be able to address a person exactly where they are without having to apply derogatory labels to them and make them feel inferior. The guru knows they are at a higher stage or whatever, but they don't feel the need to announce it because they can sense the Psychic at work in the other person too (for example in Mirra's dialogues with materialists she takes a different tone and addresses them where they are without prosyletizing but simultaneously without losing her own integrity). I think learning mental silence is a very important key to all of this.

We might know something intuitively (that we're at a higher developmental stage than someone) but we don't have to mentally state it or announce it to every single person, nor do we have to create blanket stereotypes and labels.

In his works addressed to the world, it's obvious that Aurobindo is critical of many things -- materialism, illusionism, and other modes of being that he considers limited. But at no point have I found him sacrificing compassion. His criticisms are always nuanced, well-phrased, and complemented with appropriate counter-views showing the value of what he considers limited. Again, it takes real psychic development to get to that level. But I really liked your comment in the previous e-mail -- about how once you get in tune with the Psychic you go from strength to strength!

Also I feel Mirra's words here are very appropriate regarding how we should become like flowers.

Flowers teach us the charm of silence and thus the self-giving which demands nothing in return. Be like a flower. One must try to become like a flower: open, frank, equal, generous and kind. Do you know what it means?

A flower is open to all that surrounds it: Nature, light, the rays of the sun, the wind, etc. It exerts a spontaneous influence on all that is around it. It radiates a joy and a beauty.

It is frank: it hides nothing of its beauty, and lets it flow frankly out of itself. What is within, what is in its depths, it lets it come out so that everyone can see it.

It is equal: it has no preference. Everyone can enjoy its beauty and its perfume, without rivalry. It is equal and the same for everybody. There is no difference, or anything whatsoever.

Then generous: without reserve or restriction, how it gives the mysterious beauty and the very own perfume of Nature. It sacrifices itself entirely for our pleasure, even its life it sacrifices to express this beauty and the secret of the things gathered within itself.

And then, kind: it has such a tenderness, it is so sweet, so close to us, so loving. Its presence fills us with joy. It is always cheerful and happy.

I just think that when one finds oneself being harsh or rude it is more an acknowledgement of one's own limitations than the other person's (and fine, this is also okay as long as it is guided by the Psychic, but it's not something one would expect to find in an avatar). Firmness is something else -- it's more like something you express through your tone or through your silence. It's not something that necessarily requires harshness, and certainly not the sort of external link "Rude Boy" abuse that Andrew Cohen metes out in the name of enlightenment!

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material by Ned..
page uploaded 13 December 2006