A powerful complement to the active physical and energetic techniques that we employ in Yoga and meditation is the practice of contemplation. Taking time to reflect deeply on the often counter-rational and paradoxical insights we gain when we temporarily suspend our normal ego’s judgments and conditional thinking can support the integration of the fruits of our practice into our lives. The greatest of the sages and seers throughout all traditions endure in our hearts and minds because they have been able to offer insight into how the personal evolution of the Self can inform the evolution of our society and the world at large.

In this spirit I invite you to consider the above quotation from the Tao te Ching, which views compassion as the core component of authentic strength. In addition you may reflect upon it in relation to the verse (67) that precedes it in the light of the events of our world and the challenges we face. It is considered by many to be the most important and beautiful aphorism in the book, and expresses the core truths from which the author’s conclusions about compassion flow.

In this contemplation exercise:

  • Take time to quiet the mind, relax the body and slow the pace and rhythm of breathing.
  • Read and consider the following verses, avoiding the tendency to view these aphorisms as rules or edicts
  • Instead, experience in quiet receptivity the impact of the words on your deeper felt sense.
  • In this way you can know without reactivity, just how they may challenge your existing sensibilities; and allow them stir up some deeper intuitive knowing with which we may have become disconnected.

Excerpted from the Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 67

” All the world says I am important;

I am separate from all the world.

I am important because I am separate,

Were I the same, I could never be important.

“Yet here are three treasures

That I cherish and commend to you:

The first is compassion,

By which one finds courage.

The second is restraint,

By which one finds strength.

And the third is unimportance,

By which one finds influence.

Those who are fearless, but without compassion,

Powerful, but without restraint,

Or influential, yet important,

Cannot endure.”…

(And again: )

…“Compassion is the finest weapon and best defense.

If you would establish harmony, Compassion must surround you like a fortress.”.