- by Anisha Niyas
I am great believer in compassion. Kindness towards all beings – be it human or animal comes naturally to us. This transcends all religions. What the great books tells us is how to live life but it is us that have the power to choose between practice and theory, good and bad, right and wrong. You don’t have to be part of a group…be it religious or charity based to do good. A single act of kindness goes a long way in making a difference. If you do it on a daily basis, imagine how many people you unintentionally may reach out and touch. That is not god, that is you. That is you using your hands to help others when you see a need and trust me; there is need everywhere, from helping a friend to feeding the poor.
Compassion and empathy must start with you. It goes hand in hand with intelligence, not knowledge as often mistaken by some. There is a vast difference between the two. I remember when we were doing a project in Kilinochchi a family invited us into their humble home…the windows and door blown out during the war. They had no chairs so we sat on the ground and the lady served us cups of tea and biscuits. We felt a tinge of guilt to even accept the hospitality knowing that they were sharing the little they had but to say no would have been a greater insult. From all my years of volunteering, I have always found that it is the poorest, the one’s that haven’t had the same access to education that we have, those that have suffered the most, that are the most kind. There is certainly a lesson in this for all of us. If the poor are able to be generous with the little they have, is it justified for those blessed with plenty to not care?
We did a medical camp once and my role was to pass on reading glasses with the correct strength to those that had already had their eyes checked by the optician at hand. It was overwhelming to have elderly men and women one by one come up to me and bless me, for doing a task so simple that it didn’t feel worthy of that attention. What I learned is that to me it meant nothing apart from the fact that I was volunteering of my own accord. To the people that I did help, the simple fact that they were given free spectacles and were able to see clearer, having that improve their quality of life, meant everything to them.
When we do something good, that act resonates within us. You don’t need to depend on a religion to feel that way. People often think that by merely following a belief that in itself is enough. It isn’t because if you cannot read, question and think for yourself, the point of a belief is lost. Sometimes we question what exactly is touched deep within us when we reach out and help others. I have questioned the feeling too, because it can be a little overwhelming. Philosopher J Krishnamurti sums it up best for me when he writes; “You are the book. When you read the book as a reader it has no meaning. But if you are the book and the book is showing you, telling you the story, then you will not depend on a single person. You will be a light unto yourself.”