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Compassion: Live a Day through Thomas Merton’s Eyes


we are interconnectedThomas Merton was a Trappist (Catholic) monk who spoke these words a couple hours before his final breath:

“Compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”

I’ve made it a practice to be interested in what people say toward the end of life. I think at that point, people often come to a space of presence and clarity that I’ve called The Now Effect. This isn’t a special moment of wisdom that is reserved for our deathbeds, it’s something we all glean at some point or another and yet at the same time it is a skill that can be cultivated.

Merton’s quote strikes at the fundamental delusion that underscores much of our dis-ease.

We walk around life with this belief that we are somehow separate from one another and this growing feeling of disconnection leads to a state of imbalance. When we’re mentally imbalanced it’s a lot easier for our buttons to get pushed sending us into states of stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviors.

What would be different if we flipped it around and we walked around day to day with a fundamental belief that we are all connected, that there’s an interdependence of all being and that my actions reverberate in an interconnected web that cause ripple effects?

Maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to judge others. Or maybe we’d be more likely to help out other people or beings in this world. What would your life be like if there was more of that sentiment in it? What would the world be like if more people believed that?

Here is a truly worthwhile endeavor to practice today:

Take on the belief as an experiment that there is an interdependence of all living being. Your actions affect the web of connection which comes back to you. Harming another person is akin to harming yourself, helping another person is akin to helping yourself.

See how this belief feels as you try it on for a day.

Life is about choices and in this way, we can allow our experience to guide us in choosing the life we want to live moment-to-moment.

Interconnected hands photo available from Shutterstock

Compassion: Live a Day through Thomas Merton’s Eyes


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.


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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2012). Compassion: Live a Day through Thomas Merton’s Eyes. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2012/12/compassion-living-a-day-through-thomas-mertons-eyes/

 

Last updated: 13 Dec 2012
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