by Dawn King • Isn’t it amazing that humans have so many different ways of calculating and celebrating new beginnings. New Year on the Islamic calendar falls on August 10th this year. Historical calculations of New Year depended on the sighting of the New Moon. Today, astronomical calculations usually determine the Islamic calendar and the setting of its holy days.
The Islamic calendar starts at sunset on the evening it commemorates Muhammad’s first exodus with his followers, i.e. the beginning of Islam. Many Islamic observances celebrate incidents in the life of Moses and the lives of others who are revered by Christians and Jews, as well. Three of the world’s major religions have the same roots.
As the leader of a new “nation” Muhammad created a constitution with laws that encouraged tolerance and compassion. For instance one law states, “And the believers shall not leave any one, hard-pressed with debts, without affording him some relief, in order that the dealings between the believers be in accordance with the principles of goodness and justice.”
As a part of Cosmic consciousness Sunburst recognizes twelve virtues, one of which is emphasized each month of the year. The virtue of Compassion is currently prominent during the astrological month of Leo (July 23 to August 22). But each virtue is complimented by virtue opposite it—in the opposite zodiac sign. For Compassion that is Charity (Aquarius); Compassion is an act of charity, giving of ourselves.
Compassion is something we feel for another, having also endured their situation, or realizing how easily we could be in their plight. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” This is a paraphrase of Paul of Tarsus (Saint Paul the Apostle) in 1 Corinthians (15: 8-10) “ But by the grace of God I am what I am…” We are reminded to be grateful for our own blessings every day.
Recently I was hiking and had a bad fall. Realizing how much worse the outcome could have been, I found myself being more grateful for those things I normally took for granted. When I walk, I say, “I am grateful that my legs and feet are working so well.” I’d badly twisted my ankle. in my meditations I say, “I am thankful for my good health and for a sound mind.” In falling, I’d hit my head resulting in a concussion that lasted for several weeks.
Compassion for others can remind us to be grateful for the things that are right in our lives. It can also move us to do something to assist those we see as being in some way less fortunate. Perhaps your compassion leads you to donate for victims of fire, flood, famine, disease, etc. Perhaps you volunteer at a local food bank or shelter of some sort.
Our children can learn compassion by observing our example. Compassion starts with empathy, or understanding another’s feelings, and may come naturally to a child. Even a 2-year-old might try to comfort another child who is crying. Four-year-olds might apologize when they hurt another’s feelings. At 5 or 6 children learn to take turns and can think of ways to help others.
We can grow in compassion and kindness, and help our children grow in that way also:
1. Imagine yourself in the other person’s position. Their facial expression might help you realize how they feel.
2. Recognize rudeness; don’t respond in kind, but realize it may be the result of some unseen situation.
3. Notice, and acknowledge it when someone is kind to you.
4. Avoid copying bad behavior you might see around you, on TV, movies, or the Internet. It’s NOT okay!
5. Name calling (even insinuation) is not acceptable; it’s hurtful.
6. Competition is usually contrary to the idea of working together, and gives us the idea that others stand in the way of our success. The only healthy competition is found in overcoming our own limitations.
Our ability to act with compassion and kindness is challenged during a lifetime of human interactions. And it’s through the school of human interactions that we have our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. Reflection and meditation then help us gain an objective view of our interactions with others. Meditation can open us to insights into others’ motives and the past experiences which have shaped them. A gift of insight like this is truly invaluable, and humbling.
We realize that everyone is coming from different circumstances and background experiences. And each person is trying to do the best they can in the midst of life’s many challenges. Let’s each celebrate the start of a new year of more conscious Compassion.