Is Compassion Possible In This Rotten Situation?

compassionIn our Year of Inquiry tele session group yesterday morning, we entered a really powerful situation for The Work.

The kind where you got pretty scared….or hurt….and you might even see this as a problem in society or the world.


In this case, the inquirer was doing The Work on hearing about a man she knew personally beating his partner, something we call “domestic violence”.

The interesting thing about this inquirer’s situation and thoughts were how well everyone could relate to hearing something like that, experiencing something like that, or feeling the same feelings.

Disgust, irritation, fear, rage, separation.

You may find these kinds of feelings in your own past, in some incident you went through yourself.

The first thing to do is to identify the specific moment you felt your fear or terror.

Yes, it’s going into the fire in a big way….except you are here now, in this safe, quiet moment.

You’ll be OK.

(I began to notice when doing The Work on disturbing experiences that memories are floating through, and they are pictures only, and feelings are just energy moving through the body–nothing terrible is actually happening when you recall something, you know?)

So pause the movie in your head, the one with the bad difficult memory, and answer the question:

Why is this upsetting?

I’m terrified because he called me names, said I was stupid and ugly, and kept asking me to do things I didn’t want to do.

Now break it down into just one simple concept, to walk through inquiry with.

You don’t have to inquire into everything at once–in fact, this can dilute and confuse you and not really provide enormous insight when you have a particularly troubling situation to investigate.

Just start with the very first concept: he called me names.

Is it true?

Yup, sure is. Absolutely? Yes.

See how you feel, though. Are you angry?

You’re looking at something that happened, and you are already deciding it was horrifying, wrong, bad, impossible to get over.

And this is years and years later maybe. Or even last week.

It’s over.

This is important to notice.

Can you find the crack between something being true, and the second you decide you’re against it?

Because when you are against it……you are naturally thinking it should not have happened, or it is unforgivable, or you are frightened of it happening again, or you feel lost about it, unresolved, sad, hurt.

Are you sure you’re hurt?

I’m not asking because this is an exercise in denial, or criticism of anyone who thinks back on a troubling situation with fear.

Right now, I can think of someone from many, many years ago and remember the scene still. Words were coming from him towards me. Really nasty, bitter words. Cutting, mean.

I remember at the time how I felt like I was punched in the gut. I was trying to control my tears and failed. My heart was racing and my face got red and hot.

Who would I be without the belief I was damaged, in that situation?

Who would I be without the belief I was unable to recover, lost, hurt, or that my life was altered in a bad way?

This is really hard sometimes to imagine, but you can.

For me….I noticed without the belief how well I handled that emotionally violent situation.

I noticed how full of suffering this person was who was saying such things.

How nutty humanity is that we believe our thoughts and lash out, not knowing any better–but this seems to be the way of it, so it’s not wrong, and we discover there are much better more loving ways.

Without my beliefs, I feel great compassion for that man, and any men who become violent.

Without my beliefs, I notice how healed I have become, how my life never seems to have any really big violence in it (and it could tomorrow, who knows).

I notice when I turn the thoughts around that someone shouldn’t be violent with words or deeds, that my own mind has been just as mean and attacking as that person was!

To others, to him, and to myself!

I was not hurt. I was healed. 

He was hurt.

These beliefs are just as true.

Imagine that.

“Through observing the illusory nature of thought without resisting it, we can begin to question and inquire into the underlying belief structures that support it. These belief structures are what form our emotional attachments to the false self and the world our minds create…..Reality is not something that you integrate into your personal view of things. Reality is life without your distorting stories, ideas, and beliefs. It is perfect unity free of all reference points, with nowhere to stand and nothing to grab hold of…..Cease to cherish opinions and it stands before your very eyes.” ~ Adyashanti  

The truth is that troubling situation happened in another time and place, when I believed very strongly that there were many things to fear.

It became proof of scary things and mean people.

But then later on, remembering, doing The Work, that very same situation became proof of survival, peace beyond belief, the end of war, compassion, silence and love.

Much love, Grace

4 Replies to “Is Compassion Possible In This Rotten Situation?”

  1. Wow. I read Grace Notes daily, and this week they have been enormously helpful.

    Thank you, Grace!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting this form, you are granting: Work With Grace, 17102 Brentwood Place NE, Lake Forest Park, WA, 98155, permission to email you. You may unsubscribe via the link found at the bottom of every email. (See our Email Privacy Policy ( for details.) Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.