I was reading “A Fearless Heart”, written by Thupten Jinpa, Ph D. I highly recommend it for those of us who would like to know more about compassion, and how to integrate this practice into our daily lives.
Thupten Jinpa was a former Tibetan Monk who holds a PH D. from the University of Cambridge and has been the principal English translator to the Dalai Lama for nearly thrity years. He is an adjunct professor of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy at McGill University and chairman of the Mind and Life Institute, which is dedicated to promoting dialogues and collaborations between the sciences and contemplative knowledge, especially Buddhism. He lives in Montreal with his wife and daughters.
Jinpa says the inhibitors of compassion are forms of resistance that manifest as defensiveness, pride, suppression, and denial. And emotions that follow include sadness, pain, and frustration can also be considered symptoms of resistance. I had never thought about resistance from this perspective.
I was reflecting upon how resistance shows up in our lives and prevents us from having a full range of emotions that provide us with life experience. Resistance is the experience of shut down, shut out, and disconnected. If we don’t allow ourselves to have a relationship with our emotions how can we truly be alive and fully embody life?
Although, isn’t it the experience of resistance that can teach us what it means to be vulnerable if we allow ourselves to be receptive? If we listen to resistance and respond by letting go, instead of engaging in the struggle, so inherent within the resistance, then we come back into connection. Compassion is all about connection. Resistance is the experience of disconnection.
The value of resistance is that it does provide a coping mechanism to protect us from the pain that may have overwhelmed us. As we develop, it can inhibit our ability to connect not only with ourselves, but also in our relationships.
I was reflecting upon how important it is to observe the many ways resistance shows up in lives, and the wisdom we cultivate as we pay attention and recognize the patterns of resistance. As they unfold, we increase our capacity to feel vulnerable by sitting with resistance and observing our patterns, and the gift of compassion deepens.