“Through compassion, we conquer the numbness and the daze which keeps us closed off from the messes and miseries of the world.”
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spiritual Literacy
The Womb of Compassion
Of all our practices, compassion lies at the heart of the spiritual life. It is the uniting theme running through every major world religion. The writers of the Gospels frequently described Jesus as being "moved with compassion." In the Qur’an, the phrase “in the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful” appears 114 times. In Buddhism, compassion combined with wisdom — the “great compassion” — is the path to enlightenment.
I am particularly drawn to the favorite Talmudic name for God: Rachmana, "the Compassionate One." The root of this Hebrew word rchm means “womb.” God has a womb. And in that womb, we are nourished and formed and loved. Compassion means “to feel with” and so divinity feels with us like a mother. This kind of God appeals to me. This is why I was drawn to process theology, for it suggests that "God is the great companion — the fellow sufferer, who understands" (Alfred North Whitehead). The more we come to know this intimate companion, the more we know our practice of compassion as a divine calling. By entering the suffering of others, we move deeper into the very life of God, whose womb contains the whole world.
The Practice of Self-Compassion