Tag Archives: compassion

Compassion in the Bhagavad Gita…

The energy of Divine love is a specific insight found throughout the Bhagavad Gita. The Divine Self (atma) vibrating throughout the universe is the Divine Master who loves us all equally. Every human person has the ability to hear from within the Divine depth of his/her being: "You are dear to me, I long for you, you are my beloved and my friend" (Gita 18:64, 65 – 4:3). This is not a God speaking from outside, but from within the very heart of reality. The relation with this “inside” God is not just at the mental level of I-thou structure, but within a mystical consciousness of mutual indwelling: "I am in you, you are in me" (9:29)…The true bhakta experiences the Lord as the inner subject (10:8), the true jnani perceives the Divine as one's deeper self (7:18).

With these perceptions then, human life may become a direct response to the Divine love permeating the entire universe and filling one's heart. Every bit of reality communicates the vibration of the contagious power of Divine kama (7:11). One finds themselves and all beings on this eternal journey of Divine love. One feels called to a life of compassion towards all beings, human and cosmic, animate and inanimate. "My true devotee does not feel hatred for any being, but is friendly and compassionate towards all, without the thoughts of I-and-mine" (12:13). Thus the basic trait of a liberated person is compassion.

Compassion takes inner freedom for granted: freedom from any possessive feelings of I-and-­mine. Inner freedom makes a person remain calm through all changes encountered in life: in success and failure, in gain and loss, in honor and disgrace, towards friend and enemy, saints and sinners, relatives and strangers (2:38 – 6:9 – 12:18 – 13:10). A person of inner peace is not easily thrown off-balance by conflicting emotions of fear and fascination, anger and attachment, joy and suffering (2:56 – 5:20).

A compassionate person is not a dispassionate being. Sharing one's life (and possessions) with those in need is the basis of compassion. "The one who cooks food only for oneself, eats poison." (3:13). A passionate concern (rati, 5:25) to bring about welfare to all beings characterizes the life of liberated person. Intense attraction (chikeershu, 3:25) to assisting in the integration of the world is the motivation of his/her commitment. Compassion is the total surrender of a person to the “cause of the other” within the environment of Divine creativity.

Compassion demands an effective appraisal of the dehumanizing behavioral patterns and the oppressive structures of society. The Gita raises an uncompromising protest against discriminative social traditions, exploitative economic systems, aggressive political structures and dehumanizing religious practices (5:18 – 16:13-19 – 2:42-44). A compassionate person is a courageous person because his being is firmly established in the consciousness of the Divine (2:56 – 6:14).

Compassion in the Bhagavad Gita…

Compassion enables a person realize their creativity. The one who acts from the motivation of the ego (ahamkara) has to compete with others in a compulsive way, because their actions are controlled by greed, anger, lust and hate (2:62-63 – 3:25). The one who acts, rooted in the Divine ground of being realizes that the Divine Master is the real subject of one's actions (13:3).  "Ascribing all works to the Divine, one acts with inner freedom." (5:10). With this spiritual realization one naturally becomes more creative, more courageous and more compassionate.

Compassion is not simply a virtue to practice, but a holistic attitude that binds every person to everything with the bond of Divine love. One sees “reflections of the Self everywhere” (6:32) because one realizes that one's Self is the Self of all (sarvabhutatma bhutatma, 5:7). All things are bound together on the Divine chord of life and love (7:7). No being can be alien and no one a stranger to a truly realized person. With all the “things” of nature, we humans all live in the one family of the Divine. There is no room for competition, but only the capacity for compassion. "Mutually nourishing one another we all attain real prosperity" (3:11). Such an integral world-view can be very healthy today, when humanity cuts itself apart through competitiveness, threatening to destroy the cosmic matrix of life.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Sympathy, Empathy & Compassion – Do You Know the Difference?

Those who practice yoga naturally aspire to living a life of unity. Samadhi (enlightenment) is a common goal, along with “finding” their true self and realizing that Self to be non-separate from all they might ordinarily see as “other.” Acting unselfishly for the good of others is the cornerstone of an enlightened life. There are many ways to describe one’s individual actions as they relate to other’s needs and/or sufferings. To clarify: here we will explore the difference between sympathy, empathy and compassion and how each of them might relate to your life choices…

Sympathy – feelings of pity or sorrow for someone else's misfortune.

Sympathy is basically feeling sorry for another’s hurt or pain. Generally there is some emotional separation with sympathy, in other words, you are not directly experiencing the pain yourself, but sometimes sympathy can assume the form of pity, and that is where some caution should be exercised. Pity is a negative emotion that can tend to dehumanize and belittle. Most people who are in difficulty, suffering or facing other challenges will despise being “pitied.” For a deeper understanding, empathy is needed.

Empathy – “Feeling into” (walking in another’s shoes)

The feeling of empathy takes things a bit deeper; it’s the capacity to experience for yourself some of the pain that another person is experiencing. Empathy acknowledges our shared human experience and the recognition that we all have the ability to feel grief, loss, pain, fear, etc. Empathy is a vicarious experience; it’s allowing yourself to become tuned into another person’s actual emotional experience. This takes courage, and if you’ve ever experienced real empathy from another when you’ve been suffering, you know what a precious gift it can be.

Compassion – love takes action (empathy + a strong desire to alleviate the suffering)

If we agree that empathy is the capacity to truly experience the feelings of pain that another person is feeling; then compassion is to translate and convert that feeling into helpful action. True compassion doesn’t discriminate, it reaches out to all people, regardless of whether they are friends or not, and furthermore, it extends to all living creatures.

To summarize: Sympathy (or pity) may cause you to get pulled into a ditch where some unfortunate one has fallen, empathy will allow you to feel what the fallen one is feeling without getting stuck in the same dilemma, and compassion will enable you to bring action to empathy by offering a helping hand and lifting that one up.

Living in a compassionate way can be learned and with practice it will become second-nature. Changing any habit takes persistence and practice but it is achievable through the right methods. Many of the wisest people in this world have testified that the giving of one’s self to help others is the source of great peace and satisfaction, and there are many other benefits to be gained as well.

Learning and regularly practicing meditation can greatly help develop qualities of compassion. Meditation is a great way to access your own inner wise being, which is inherent in your subconscious, allowing you to move from living a self-based life to living a life where others are not separate from you. Meditation will help you become a person of true compassion, and lead to life that is deeply fulfilling in ways you may never have imagined.

Sympathy, Empathy & Compassion – Do You Know the Difference?

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Choose Peace – Embrace Life


Choose Peace – Embrace LifeAs humans our bodies have preconditioned responses to threats and/or challenges, whether they’re real or perceived, anything from the attack of a tiger to hostile words from a coworker tends to prompt the “fight or flight” reaction. This automatic response triggers the production and release of adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstreams. Unless we are confronted with an actual physical attack (in which case we need to fight or run away), the fight or flight response can itself be physically harmful and literally cause pain and suffering. If this response arises without real situations, we tend to succumb to a series of conditioned or habitual responses. In our relationships with each other, we may see the other person as our enemy and fail to recognize that they may be facing their own set of fears and challenges.

So how can we prevent responding to another as if they were a charging tiger? One way is to consciously choose a peaceful interaction which will defuse an otherwise awkward, unfavorable or even aggressive reaction. By becoming mindful of yourself you expand your awareness and develop your ability to remain calmly present in nearly any situation. You can always choose to focus your attention on your breath and the sensations you feel pulsing through your body, and this will bring you back in touch with the universal needs that we all share as human beings.

Spiritual traditions down through the ages and recent scientific research both agree that focusing on your breath and remaining aware of bodily sensations have huge benefits for us as we relate to others and the world at large. We are then no longer bound to acting out old habitual patterns and we have the opportunity to become aware of the reaction, and remain present with it, enabling us to choose to stay connected with the very source of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, in turn giving us a larger sense of life and keeping us in touch with our basic and collective human needs.

There are many ways to choose peace and embrace life and some of the easiest are…

Be grateful. The more things you can find to be grateful for on a regular basis, the more you will improve your mental, physical and emotional health, along with your overall outlook on life. Gratitude stimulates the production of the hormonal neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for feeling good and influencing human behavior in many positive ways. Keep reminding yourself that a little gratitude goes a long way, and communicating your gratitude in words and actions will greatly increase your personal peace.

Become your own best friend. This promotes a sense of peace that radiates from within. The Buddha has reportedly said “You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Loving-kindness and compassion start with you and once you’re able to recognize that they originate within you, you can generate a feeling of warmth and love for others so that they may also get a taste of that peace and know it’s the same peace that resides within them.

Practice becoming empathetic. Empathy and compassion are powerful tools for making peace with others. The active principle of empathy is found through understanding, to “stand under” rather than to judge from above. Seek to become more sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings and you’ll automatically become tolerant and forgiving; essential qualities for establishing peace and embracing life.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)

Part 3 of this series continues with “Some unexpected benefits of eating a plant-based diet.”


A lot of people who claim to be vegetarian eat more than simple plant-based foods and a little research will show that there are many different types of vegetarian diets and the four most common ones are:

1.    Vegan – Strictly plant based: No animal flesh, no eggs, and no dairy products are allowed.

2.    Lacto-vegetarian – Mostly plant-based: No animal flesh or eggs, but dairy products are OK.

3.    Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – Partly plant-based: No animal flesh but dairy products and eggs are OK.

4.     Pescatarian – Questionably whether vegetarian (The Vegetarian Society, does not recognize pescatarians as true vegetarians): Pescatarians eat no animal flesh except seafood; dairy products and eggs are optional.

The rest of the text in this article (and the preceding two articles) applies to veganism or a strict plant-based diet as opposed to the “vegetarian” types (2, 3, & 4) mentioned above.


In an analysis published in 2009 in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers noted that plant-based diets are associated with:

• Lower levels of triglycerides

• Lower concentrations of inflammatory markers such as C-reative protein (CRP)

• Lower blood pressure

Decreased body weight and body mass index (BMI)

Decreased risk of premature death from any cause, including heart disease

Improved insulin sensitivity

Better blood sugar control in patients with diabetes

The heart benefits of eating more plant foods are well-established by large-scale studies such as the “Nurses’ Health Study” and the “Health Professionals Follow-up Study.” These studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables have a 20% reduced risk of heart disease and a 27% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially stroke.

The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada say that plant-based diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Vegans also have substantially lower rates of the following health problems:

• Heart disease

Blood cholesterol levels

Blood pressure


Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes

Prostate cancer

Colon cancer

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit organization of doctors and others promoting preventive medicine, recommends a quality plant-based diet for the treatment and prevention of many health conditions.

Some of the world’s populations are known to have extraordinary long, healthy and happy lives. There are areas in the world where disease is virtually unknown, even in the oldest persons. Studies have shown that their exceptional health is largely attributed to low-calorie, plant-based, whole foods diets. Genetics are ruled out as a significant factor because when these same people are exposed to Western-style diets they quickly develop the same diseases common to Westerners.

Okay, so here are some unexpected benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

You’ll be doing a huge favor for the environment: Most people don’t realize it, but our insatiable appetite for animal protein contributes 50% more greenhouse gases than our planes, trains, trucks, cars and ships? Needless to say, our environment benefits greatly every time someone cuts animal foods out of their diet.

You’ll feel more connected to your higher (or spiritual) self: Not getting nearly enough fiber is one pitfall of eating the standard American diet, and that equates to sluggishness. When provided with the valuable fiber found in a plant-based diet your body is better able to cleanse itself and space is opened up within. Whenever someone upgrades to a plant-based diet, this naturally brings about a desire to connect to our source and our highest self.  When we can be our truest selves then we are in the best position to share our inherent gifts with others.

Compassion naturally arises in someone when they stop eating meat: This isn’t meant to imply that you didn’t care about animals before, but I’ll bet you didn’t know (and probably didn’t want to know) what was actually happening to the cows, pigs, and chickens before they turned up in your supermarket. Two billion animals suffer and then are killed every week just so they can show up on our dinner plates. It’s unconscionable.

You’ll be saving money: By eating an assortment of veggies, whole grains, beans and legumes as the base for your meals is actually quite cost effective. That difference makes up for the slightly higher priced organic produce, you’ll be comfortable knowing it’s an investment in your long-term health and that can mean big savings.

Creativity is enhanced: Cleaning up your diet and switching to plant-based foods will bring about a profound change in your creative expression. Your thinking will be clearer and new and inspiring ideas will come in abundance.

You’ll lose unwanted weight: Nearly all plant-based foods are much less caloric and very dense nutritionally, a sure “win-win” situation for weight loss. You’ll likely never feel deprived when eating this way, and quite possibly you’ll feel satisfied more quickly because your body is telling your brain it’s getting what it needs.

In summary: Contrary to popular myth, vegans have healthy bones and higher blood protein levels than omnivores. Vegans in fact average fewer nutrient deficiencies than average omnivores. But there are a couple important nutritional considerations. There are two vitamins not readily available in plants: vitamins D and B-12…Unless you live in the extreme northern (or southern) hemisphere, you can get ample vitamin D from the sun, and very little sun exposure is needed to provide your body’s needs. A natural source of vitamin B-12 can be found in nutritional yeasts. One brand of nutritional yeast, Red Star, has been tested and shown to contain active vitamin B-12. Those sensitive to other yeasts can also use it. Also recommended for vegans are algae-based long chain omega 3 fatty acids.

*Of related interest, click on: The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)

& The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)


The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)

Part 2 of this series continues with “Reasons why you should eat plant-based diet.”

Ever since the introduction of documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives” (click on – trailer), “Vegucated” (trailer), and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” (full documentary), American’s are being exposed to the ever growing list of benefits of eating a plant-based diet. At first the claims may seem doubtful that a plant-based diet will greatly decrease your chances of Cardiovascular disease (aka heart disease), reduce or eliminate your risk of cancer, help you to shed those unwanted pounds. Additionally, plant-based diet has been shown to be an effective solution for type II diabetics and those with osteoporosis have seen it reversed. Simply stated, a diet high in animal protein is disastrous to our health, while a plant-based (vegan) diet prevents disease and is restorative to our health. And doctors and nutritional scientists say this with peer-reviewed (the gold standard of studies) science to back them up.

People are also finding that going vegan is much more than being selective about what you are eating. When you convert to a plant-based diet you are literally saving hundreds of animals’ lives each year, you’re helping preserve our Earth’s fragile environment and you’re being kind to your body in the process.  You’ll experience a fundamental philosophical shift in your mind, body and spirit, resulting in an overall transformation of yourself. It will change your life.

Now on to the reasons why you should eat plant-based diet…

Eating plant-based foods will be a tremendous aid for you to attain, maintain or regain an optimal state of health. Undeniable medical evidence has now shown conclusively that a whole foods plant-based diet is instrumental in preventing and/or reversing a plethora of diseases and conditions, including inflammation, anxiety, depression, Lupus, MS, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, and the list goes on. The China Study which surveyed over 6,500 people from over 65 countries remains the largest and most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and proves beyond a doubt that a plant-based diet is prolonging lives. After the publication of this book, there’s not much room left for debate.

Cancer prevention. Because Cancers originate from your body’s damaged cells, it is critical to preserve the health of those cells and in today’s world this is both a challenge and your responsibility. “The science base is very strong that fruits and vegetables are protective for all the gastrointestinal cancers and all the smoking-related cancers,” to quote Tim Byers, professor of preventive medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Constipation and bowel disorders. What a worthwhile benefit a plant-based diet is for a country that spends millions on pharmaceuticals, supplements, vitamins, herbs and laxatives all so that you can loosen your stool and become regular. This condition can be prevented or reversed simply by changing your diet; when you eat a healthy plant-based diet, regularity is greatly enhanced, resulting in much lower incidence of colon cancer and other diseases of the colon. 

Compassion for animals. As stated above, each and every individual will be saving hundreds of animals from inhumane treatment and slaughter by going vegan. There is no such thing as a ‘kind slaughter’ as some in the meat industry would have you believe and this even includes those animals that graze exclusively. The documentary “Earthlings” (