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Choosing to be Compassionate

For most of the year 2000, I worked and lived at a fasting clinic in northern California where I spent time with many groups of eclectic guests from all over the world.

I often tell my wife that during that year, I felt like I was floating around in a bubble, almost immune to any downers that life brought my way. Sure, there were times when I felt a bit crummy, but most of the time, I was at peace, able to feel compassion for anyone.

The source of my deep well of harmony was a commitment that I made with myself to live with the following philosophy in mind:

All behaviour is motivated by love or by a need for love.

When someone gave me reason to feel angry, sad, anxious, or fearful, I was able to slow my thoughts and emotions down, remind myself that my antagonist was likely deprived of love, and choose to respond with kindness and understanding.

Okay, maybe I wasn't able to do this every time I felt I was wronged, but I was definitely on a plane of thinking and being that Jesus Himself probably would have appreciated. I was in the zone that Gandhi must have been in while he was allowing himself to get physically smacked around.

Here's the thing: Over the past decade, whenever I have been able to purposefully respond with a generous heart in situations where most sane people would have given me full license to respond with righteous anger, I have always been able to walk away feeling at peace and like I did the right thing. Always.

I think that this is the magic of taking the high road. Sometimes, it's human to want to call out mean-spirited and rude behavior. You feel like you need to preserve some self respect. But interestingly, I have yet to feel like I lost anything by diverting bad energy and choosing to be compassionate.

Put another way, I have found that feeling at peace is a natural consequence of choosing to be kind in every circumstance (And sometimes, I think being kind entails walking away in silence).

Without exception, in situations where I haven't been able to pause and control the urge to let someone know that he or she just generated some bad karma, I've walked away feeling worse for having "stood up for myself." In such situations, I guess I, too, was motivated by a need for love.

Also interesting is that I've found that the more good energy I put out there, the deeper my well of good energy seems to become. Consciously choosing to walk with a forgiving and compassionate spirit really seems to fortify the intention to lift others up.

This reminds me of the "what do you get when you squeeze an orange" idea. You get orange juice, of course, because that's what's inside of an orange.

If we have love and compassion within, love and compassion is what will come out of us when we're squeezed.

Clearly, choosing to be compassionate doesn't happen naturally all the time. It takes work. It takes daily effort to stay in this zone. I find that I have to fill myself with uplifting thoughts on a regular basis. I think this is why I tend to have my best days when I begin by reading from anything that inspires me to be thoughtful of others.

When I don't do this work, when I don't take time to consciously choose to give out love rather than demonstrate a need for it, I find that it becomes easy to slide back into being a reactive person who is easily offended by anything that threatens my ego.

So I guess the main thought that I want to share is this: if you're ever feeling down and you're looking for a way to generate peace within, try going back to the well, the well that fuels you to be gentle, understanding, generous, and humble.

Even when you are clearly wronged by someone, I can almost guarantee that if you put your hurt feelings away for just a moment and respond with a compassionate spirit, you will be better for it. And you can spend the rest of your day knowing that you did your part to create healthy energy for someone else.

I've long believed that consistently feeling peace within is the most important requirement for optimal health. Never mind the toll that emotional stress takes on our physical health; without inner peace, how can any of us consistently make healthy choices?

Here's a short list of books that, over the years, have become steadfast sources of inspiration for me to get back or stay on track in living with a giving spirit:

The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm

The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr. Stephen Covey

A Course In Miracles

You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay

And we can never go wrong in considering the following passage on love from the first book of Corinthians, chapter thirteen:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

One funny thing about love that I've observed over the years is this: the more we give it to others, the more it comes back to us from all over. And the more we demonstrate a need for love by being easily offended, the less it seems to flow our way.

To the magic of generating inner peace by giving love.

 
 

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Comments

This is exquisite! Thank you so very much. Nothing that we don't already think we know with our bright minds, but this sinks deeper, into the heart, and the heart KNOWS. Bless you, Dr. Kim!

Thank you, Dr. Kim.
Your wise words are helping me get through a particularly tough day. I've spent so many years trying to improve my wellness and state of being, but I didn't realize that I wasn't truly prepared to spend so much time with others who are in refusal of doing the same.
Often, I've been finding myself feeling down, un-loved, and frustrated because of my perception of wrongs done to me. I forgot that "all behavior is motivated by love or by a need for love". A wrong was done to me two moments before I read your article. With your wise reminder, I was able to respond to the "wrong" with kindness, understanding and love. The results were wonderful. I feel much better about myself responding in love rather than "sticking up for myself". I did not feel like a push-over and I was able to handle the 'ribbing' from my co-workers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Dr. Kim you said: "I've long believed that consistently feeling peace within is the most important requirement for optimal health."
Exactly what I have come to believe and "act on" in the last 20 years of my 61 years so far! I would add to your book list both Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Their books and DVDs have been great "pointers" for me to "living inner peace" on a daily basis.
Thanks for a great article!

Good to read that.
Just saw 'In Search of Beethoven', a man of sorrows and a good man. He expressed himself through music and possibly never thought that he could be kind and loving in every human situation. He missed that blessing, but we have his music.

What a wonderful article, Dr. Kim; you are a wise man!

Regarding the age-old search for inner peace, the only coaching I have found -- after 20 years of trying many others -- that REALLY helps me live more in the moment is www.pastrealityintegration.com.

I hope you also find it helpful.

P. Ford

I, too, have found from personal experience that in order to have inner peace, we must forgive others, and truly love them. Meditating on the passage you mentioned, found in first Corinthians, has strengthened my family relationships more than any other studying I have done. It's really quite remarkable what a positive influence we can have on someone by resisting the temptation to retaliate, and instead choosing to be kind, tolerant and patient.

When Jesus spoke in His sermon on the Mount, he spoke of meekness. It has been defined as "strength under control." When we practice love and choose the higher road instead of defending ourselves or retaliating,, we are actually showing strength, not weakness. Just thought you might enjoy this take on Dr. Kim's perspective on inner peace.

Dr. Kim, I really appreciate your newsletters and find them most helpful. The article on Inner Peace struck a note in my spirit because it is so "right on". thanks for sharing it with us.

I want you to know how the Lord worked for me today. Just as I was going to breakdown as I got the news of our home loan modification, I received your Inner Peace 5/19/10 article. Thank you for sharing this most important subject. This really helped me deal with the strong emotions I was building up inside me, ready to burst. God is in control. Here is one for you: Remember that you are a magnet, appreciation attracts appreciation. This basically says the same philosophy as the love poem and your belief: Love more, you'll get more.

God continue to bless you with wisdom.

Rosemary

This is a great blog, Dr. Kim! As a 'budding Buddhist' I strive to be compassionate in all circumstances. Most of the time I'm pretty good at it (my parents raised us well, with our only 'religion' being "The Golden Rule" and it stuck. It is a response to others that improves with practice and often becomes second nature, but when I fail to respond appropriately, I go back (if possible) and apologize and extend my compassion then.. better late than never, I think! And it really does make a difference in how I feel, which helps me to continue to respond with compaasion more often than not.

Anyway, a wonderful blog and it's much appreciated!

Namaste!
Mary

Well put Dr. Well put.

How wonderfully/tragically true the premise that the more we are able to give/offer send out genuine love, the more love comes back to us. It's wonderful in that the dynamics at work which bring back to us the very things we give away is wonderfully mysterious, and of cause spiritual, and by experience, applies not only to love it seems, but so much else in life. What we send out, what we are vibrating with, resonating with, seems to come back to us, we attract to us.

It's tragic in the sense that those who are the most wounded, the most
needy of some compassion and love...are many times not emotionally able to give positively and end up sending out (usually defensively) those energies whch tend to bring the opposite of what they most desperately need. OR are just not able to give the love they most definitely need or aren't aware of those spiritual laws.

I'm just amazed at times about the truth of 'we reap what we sow' and at times it has me wondering what a word, what a thought, what an emotion really is? and then again what exactly is air? Enough! lol
Great article Dr. Kim

I am reminded of the saying, " Those who need love the most; are often the most difficult to love." It is the time that we need to show love; as loving the lovable means we have not done much; according to the scriptures: "Even the Pagans do that."

Your article is so relevant to anyone with any health issue. My inner peace comes from the knowledge that God is Love. IN the books you recommend you have omitted the bible and especially the Gospels, yet you have mentioned one of the books of the Bible, Corinthians. The Bible is the most read book in the world and when used as a daily source for peace in our heart for our fellow man, and so it is for oneself, it does work a miracle every day. That peace that goes beyond all understanding is what allows us to love our fellow man, see the hurt and pain inside others that causes words and actions that hurt, and the love of Jesus is what has the potential to heal that hurting heart. I say potential because not all will accept it, but sometimes we may be only a step on the path to peace for some. I really appreciate your writings, information and gentleness in all that you communicate. Thank you.

Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes we get caught up in life and forget what is really important. What you have written is so true. When you put those principles into practice they really do work.

I fully agree and believe we could all greatly benefit from a little reminder on a regular basis. God demonstrates His great love to us- we wouldn't know about unconditional love if it weren't demonstrated to us first. It does take a conscious effort to change and choose to show love when it's not the most popular choice to take. The 'Good Book' says we are to love our neighbor, and our neighbors are each inhabitant on this planet. It's wonderful that when you show or give the blessing of love, you're actually doing something very nice for yourself as well, that words can't describe nor any amount of money can buy. Yes, that inner peace that passes all understanding I experience when I am doing for others freely and lovingly and give praise to the Lord that he gives me strength to do so. Very nice to read your comment. K

This is a critical time in the history of Humanity. This present moment brings us to self-inspection of what we really amount to in our core structure and Heart current. We have to shift in consciousness NOW, we have to Awaken at the Heart as Remembrance of Only Love. That is all there is - Love Itself. Everything else is an illusion of our own creation. Take heed, the time is now to truly BE the difference on this Earth Plane as Love. Alchymie for Heart Awakening is an accelerated means to 'be' Love, no trying or doing, just engaging.....
Thank you.
Peaches Land

Dr. Kim,
Your article is beautiful, and everything that I believe. It is true that there are times when it it harder to not be reactive, but the effort is alway worth it. I always enjoy reading your blogs, but this one is especially touching. Thankyou, Jan Beier

Dr. Kim,
Thank you for your beautiful article. I believe what you say to be true and many would call it the Law of Attraction.
I wanted to share with your readers a wonderful on-line tool that anyone can access for free. This tool is called the Brain Walk and it can help you find that inner peace that you write about. It only takes a few minutes and I find that when I am not peaceful if I go thru the process of the tool, I am peaceful at the end.
It was developed by Betska K-Burr and she shares it with the world for free. People can find it at www.thebrainwalk.com. Its fun, its fast and it works.
Thanks again for being you and giving so much of yourself to the rest of us.
Cathy

Lovely thank you!

I agree with your comments and would also like to add that using Bhuddha Maitreya's Sacred geometric healing tools on a daily basis is transformative. Meditating with them brings me into a very calm state and they simply transform us over time. There is then a greater Soul connection,from whence comes love. Check out www.shambhalahealingtools.com
The new Monastery will soon be available for retreats. For those in the US, this is a major resource. I travel from the UK to experience this source of love.

Highly recommended!

Thank you Dr. Kim, that was so inspirational and thought provoking. Sometimes it's so easy to forget that the simple things in life are often the most valuable and it doesn't cost much effort to exert some positive feelings. It's not only good for yourself but it will also benefit others around you. Very useful advice.

I loved your article and it came on a day when it was sorely needed. The only criticism I have is that you have to achieve a balance in your life between being someone who doesn't react with anger (assuming other people need love as described in your article), and being someone who doesn't get walked on by aggressive people. Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself. I believe the balance should be toward the former, and if you can achieve the latter without being too aggressive or hostile, you are straddling that line perfectly IMHO.

Thank-you for this reminder. You seem to talk about what I need to hear at the very right time. Agian thanks Sir.

I especially liked the phrase about what we are when we are squeezed. How poetically graphic and an image that will help me see the humor and love in a situation when I'm being SQUEEZED! Thanks for a great article. Dawn

Dear Dr.Ben,

Thanks for the article on inner peace. This can be acheived by maintaining right relationship with God (vertical) and our fellow human
beings (horizontal) with true love.

Great article! Reminds me how important it can be to start the day with intention. "What do I want this day to feel like?" This morning began with "Today I will be soft" reminding me to be generous of spirit and empathetic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this article and it is a good reminder to try to live life like this on a daily basis. I often dip into "self-healing" style books and find most useful in some areas.
This article is to the point and concise - easy to post somewhere in the house and read/re-read in a moment.
Thank you for this.
We all find confrontation a challenge and inner peace can only be found by being able to return with love in all situations.
Not such an easy task and one that has to be worked at!
The Power of Grace.

I really appreciate this post, especially the recommended book titles. I wanted to say that I personally struggle with an extra layer to one's response when being "wronged" by another; that is, I seem to react negatively when there really is nothing that is wrong or opposing me in any way. People may be pleasant to me and even though I don't intend to be mean sometimes, I think I'm just too much inside myself and my various emotions and it skews how I relate with others. Ultimately, it all comes back to me and the circle turns constantly until I can get out of it. I think it's super important that we take time daily to be quiet, pray, meditate or do whatever it takes to find our centers, reground ourselves, and be present. I'm learning and I still have much, much to learn but posts like these inspire me and remind me that in being loving towards others, I have to also start with myself. Thank you.

I felt such a sense alignment with Dr. Kim's Inner Peace article and have read all of the literary references and couldn't agree more. I am so excited to add one very recent publishing to his list: A 17 song CD called "CHASING TRUTH" has just been released in AZ of all places that is full of wisdom that crosses across all races and religions AND time.
Here is the free download....One listen will explain it all:
http://thelightteam.bandcamp.com/album/chasing-truth?permalink

Finding inner peace without knowing the Prince of Peace is finite. A personal relationship with Yahshua of Nazareth, the one who died and is alive and who welcomes all who seek Him into His peace, this is eternal, and never fails, even in the worst of times.

I do agree with Gail that we only find peace when we have peace with the Prince of Peace. The Bible speaks about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 where it says "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Ephesians 2:14 states: For he himself is our peace...

Thank you Dr. Kim, for sharing such a beautiful article.
God has given you a very sensitive and delicate mind to analyse and share such things with others.

Dear Dr Kim,

I was very angry today when the person I am looking after is giving me endless problems by his behaviour. I read the Bible and then opened your e-mail. Both gave me strength but I could not stop showing my anger towards this person. Perhaps I need people's prayers. Thank you anyway for being such a positive source from whom we can learn to be good and loving towards others. You are Jesus' disciple and you are spreading His work. You are already blessed by Jesus. Thank you for all the good that you are giving to others.

Phil

Excellent! It is not a coincidence that yesterday I shared an excerpt of Louise Hay movie "You Can Heal Your Life" with my friends, before reading this article. Louise Hay is a hero of mine for quite some years now. And it is amazing how significant our thoughts are in building a harmonious life. Dr. Ben Kim, thank you for sharing and spreading the light! :) Best wishes to you and your family ~

When I get in a bad mood, feel rejected, am mistreated, or fall prey to any number of human circumstances that prod me to do what I FEEL like doing ... I MUST get alone with GOD, go to His Word and allow it to enter my heart. He who IS truth always leads me IN truth. Then I am able to talk with my Lord Jesus, confess my failures, frailties, & struggles, seek His gentle Spirit for the change in me that I need, and find the MOTIVATION & STRENGTH to apply what He guides me to DO. It is awesome and amazing to me that EVERYTHING I need I find in HIM. He is my EXAMPLE, my SOURCE, my STRENGTH, my SUPPLY. I FEEL wonderful when I go to Him, submit to Him, surrender to Him & obey Him. He always leads me out of MYSELF & toward others for their good as well as mine. And HE gets all the glory. A win - win.

I was wondering if I was the only one who felt that way.When I have stood up for myself,I felt as though I was bullying.I too remain quiet a lot of times.I used to tell people they created karma,then I had to explain what karma is because so many don't have a clue.Then I began saying,what goes around,comes around.I had to explain that also.So alot of times now,I just remain silent and send love quietly to the other person.I found that to work better for me.

"Once a Day Smile"
I think your article is wonderful and a lesson I try to live by every single day.
I start every day by saying...."I shall smile but ONCE today, starting NOW".
Keeps me happy and fulfilled for 24 hours.

Dear Dr Ben Kim,

Thank you for such an inspiring uplift.

Everything you say rings true to my heart.

I've had a good feeling about you I could feel coming through in your articles. This sharing on your part confirms it.
I have passed it along to my Beloveds.

I love the idea of your paying anonymously. That is so cool!
My father used to do it at the NYC toll booths. Only a quarter but still fun to imagine the guy in the next car smiling!

So did you used to work at TRUE NORTH with Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer? If so, I have been there. About 12 yrs ago. But water fasting is no longer an option for me.

Thank you, Dr Kim, for everything you are doing to help people and uplift them!

God Bless You!!

LOVE THAT!

Thanks, Bill!

;-)

ALSO :

I CAN SEE THAT STANDING UP FOR MYSELF IN THE WAY DR KIM DESCRIBES IS FUTILE AT BEST AND JUST CREATES MORE FEAR.

"EVERYTHING IS EITHER LOVE OR A CALL FOR LOVE" is the right understanding.

My tendency is to get upset when people don't listen to me or acknowledge me properly. This is my wound. My chief trigger. I tell ya, this is a daily frustration for me. And I suspect it will keep appearing until I heal it. I think a good practice for me would be to simply go around GIVNG THAT. LISTENING THAT WELL TO OTHERS AND ACKNOWLEDGING THEM. What they have said. You know, applying the Golden Rule here.

Love is the answer to every question.

Love and deep thanks,

Martha

I Have just recently started to read "A course in Miracles" after years of hearing its title mentioned and I am so grateful to have begun this part of my journey. Soooooooo special. The other new gift in my life is "Abraham Hicks " and of course "YOUTUBE" because without it I would never have come across such an amazing , feel good, logical, loving and miraculous sharing of knowledge on a spiritual level. And when I read Dr Bens thoughts and advice, I know that it comes from a great place of LOVE.
Thank you
Jodi Lovett

It is hard for me to hear the truth of your beautiful post at the moment; too much pain to bear. I am sure it will stay with me and trust that it will inspire me to return to a more compassionate way in the world, having been consumed with rage for far longer than is healthy! Thank you Dr K.

When I read what you write, I feel it is not just words but a journey that you have gone through and sharing with us. There is a sense of peace that dawned on me after reading this article. Many times we are pained, we want to stand up for ourselves and show that we are right and have self respect too. And as and when i have decided to look at the person/situation with compassion and love, i have never regretted my stance. Anytime that i did defend myself, spoke bitter things, I always walked out feeling smaller. I am far from the peace you are talking about but compassion seems to be making inroads and i am filled with happiness and gratitude for the same. Thanks for posting such heartfelt articles. We learn and grow with you.

 

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