And he who still with strict Compassion lives, finds ample space in which at last to die.
What is the meaning of this apparent perversion of words? Why should compassion be strict? Metaphysically it might serve to show that whatever takes on form is not the Real, and that whatever inheres in this material plane is limited. Compassion is strict, because in no true sense is it maudlin sentiment. It must be just to be Compassion, and through that very necessity of justice may hurt the ministrant of Compassion, more than him who needs its benign influence.
In this closing cycle when the Wheel of Life is turning rapidly, revolving through clouds and angry flames, the outcome of man's evil passions, but ever progressing toward the new light, many, unable to bear the rapid motion in which every impulse is quickened, every good and evil desire accentuated, every act more positive in its effects, drop away into the darkness and are left behind. Can the wheel pause for these? No, the hearts of those who go on, may feel sad, may ache for many who have been pulled away by those who, unable or unwilling to progress themselves, have dragged the weaker ones away with them; but even in the very depths of his sorrow man may not pause. In that same Wheel of Life are millions looking longingly for the Light, seeing it already dawning for them, and none may strive to arrest it for the sake of those who have fallen away and who must wait until it again reaches them in its cyclic round.
In these days of actual war with another nation, what would be thought of the common sense of one who would bring a spy into the camp, simply be cause he had known and loved him before relations had become strained, before this antagonist, from, it may be, a false sense of duty to those with whom his lot was cast, had become an active or even a seemingly passive opponent? This pseudo-sentimentalist would probably through the judgment of a military court share the fate of the spy, and like Arnold of old be deemed a foul traitor to his cause, while Andre, being honest so far as his convictions went, had the sympathy of those even though they might not condone his crime or spare his punishment. Everybody must see that there is no true Compassion in such condonation — it is merely a yielding to the weakness of one's own nature that cannot bear to be hurt.
Compassion is no weak, wailing, floppy damsel wearing her heart upon her sleeve, but a strong, glorious Angel of Light, girded with the sword of justice, but glowing with the golden light of love and bearing the precious balm of mercy.
The initial step toward reaching the Higher Compassion is sacrifice, and this means that from the moment one has turned toward the path that leads to final attainment he must be ready every instant of his material existence to yield himself for the good of humanity; but, as yet, like our raw recruits in camp, he must be drilled to be of service in striking an effective blow for the help of suffering humanity, and that drill comes hourly, momently into his life. It is to do cheerfully the small duty that looks so trifling, that may even be distasteful, without a murmur, — nay, as Mr. Judge puts it, "He must work and if he cannot have the sort he desires or seems best suited to him, then must he take and perform that which presents itself. It is that which he most needs. It is not intended either that he do it to have it done. It is intended that he work as if it was the object of his life, as if his whole heart was in it."
Thus only do we exercise true Compassion in our small environment, and fit ourselves to follow on in that Path where have gone before us the Masters of Compassion. They, who, having "overcome the self by the Self," have lifted the lid of that too long closed eye of discernment, and see no longer "as through a glass darkly but face to face." They who have attained, who, through many long lives of sacrifice and love have won the right to bliss eternal, but have turned back from the glory, at the threshold of Peace unspeakable, of Bliss inconceivable, and wait throughout the aeons of manifestation to aid their suffering brothers.
"Not my will but thine be done," — the will of the highest within us, utterly regardless of the swaying and urging of our personal desires, doing our simple and always manifest duty if we put our own predilections aside and listen to the inner voice. It is our first effort toward divine Compassion.
There are always wounds to heal, hearts to bind up, weak ones to strengthen, weary ones to aid, and if, often, the help must assume the form of a tonic rather than an emollient, it is all the nearer true, because it would be far easier for us to apply the temporary alleviation than to use the helpful but harsher scalpel or cautery. This does not mean that we are to constitute ourselves censors of our fellows, but it does mean that we are not to be carried away by our own hysterical Emotions, by our dread of being pained, by any perverted idea of Brotherhood into slurring over or condoning acts or thoughts that tend toward the injury of real Brotherhood and the cause of Humanity.
Each one of us will have all he can do to reach true Compassion by drilling ourselves into small acts of sacrifice that come to us hourly, in overcoming our own material tendencies, and in aiding with every little helpful act those about us who need them. Not by taking another's work when it is his duty to do it and he is able to perform it, but by helping the overburdened and the weary. Even a look of love and sympathy into another's eyes may help him to go on with a task that seemed more than he could accomplish, though we may not be able to lift a finger in apparent help. Compassion is not benevolence, it is not alms-giving, it is not even sympathy. These are only some of its outward forms of expression and perhaps not of so much account as many of us imagine. Divine Compassion implies that the point of balance has been reached on inner planes, and its reflection may be made visible in our present condition. It is said of the Knight of the Holy Grail,
"His strength was as the strength of ten, because his heart was pure."
Behold the text from which to write the sermon of our lives; — to keep the heart pure, or, if it should have been sullied by evil contact, to purify it, so that our strength may be "the strength of ten" when called upon to oppose evil forces levelled against us.
Who has not felt the restfulness of one who stands firm, unswayed by the fluctuating emotions of those about him, steadfast, silent, true, a pillar of strength? He may say no word, but (the form is immaterial) the presence is enough. It fills one with courage, with strength to go on, to bear a cross perhaps that seemed crushing one, to stand firm when the very foundations of life seemed rent away. He, of equal mind, having attained the point of balance, can exercise true Compassion though he seems not to move in any way.
And such a Compassion are we daily and hourly environed by, though having eyes we see not. It is that which keeps us One, keeps together the nucleus of an army that is gathering from all quarters of the globe, flying many banners but each in due time coming to array itself under that banner that went forth with the Crusade, bearing Truth,Light and Liberation for Discouraged
Humanity as its motto; — the advance step in that Order of Universal Brotherhood organized "for the Benefit of the People of the Earth and all Creatures." This cannot be too often repeated, for thus was the keynote struck for that true Compassion whose echoing vibrations shall ring clear and sweet throughout all time, and true Brotherhood no longer be an altruistic dream, but a fact harmonizing with all of Nature's laws, and man himself be a living exponent of the highest Compassion possible to him.
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