The Kabbalists teach that we should be compassionate to inanimate objects, plants, animals and humans. We are taught that we should neither despise nor destroy them, for spiritual wisdom and beauty exists in all of creation. We are told, in fact, that we have to feed our domestic animals before we sit down for a meal, honoring their needs before our own.
Compassion is defined as giving to another based on recognizing the divine soul within them. No one needs to demonstrate worthiness for us to show them compassion. When our heart is open we see beyond superficial realities and perceive the very essence of another heart. We can feel their pain and understand their struggles, which evoke compassion from our heart. We use compassion when we listen to a friend or family member without judgment or advice. We are compassionate when we try to understand someone with a point of view different than ours. We are compassionate whenever we treat an animal with kindness and help it live a better life. Even letting someone change lanes in front of us in traffic can be an act of compassion. This is easy to describe but can be difficult to practice.
We need to stop putting ourselves first, even for just a few minutes and focus on the needs of someone else. However, the rewards are great. We are happier and healthier when we are compassionate. Our immune system becomes stronger, as does our empathetic skills. We are less afraid of suffering and have a sense that the world is a better place. Practice small acts of compassion this week. Keep track of what you do and how you feel. Let me know what shifts for you.