“There was a holy man who wandered the forests, always lost in the presence of God. Through his wanderings, he came to the city one day and found a young man, a wonderful man, and said to him, “Why are you wasting your time here? Come with me into the forest, and I will show you how to experience God, peace, and happiness.” The young man said, “I can’t do that. I have a wife who loves me dearly; she would be devastated if I went away. I have children who depend on me. They love me so much. Our family is so close to one another. There is so much love in this family. I cannot just leave them and go.” The holy man said, “This is an illusion. It is a figment of your imagination. They don’t love you the way you think they do. You don’t love them the way you think you do.” And the young man replied, “Of course I do.” So the holy man said, “Let’s test this.”
The holy man suggested, “I will give you this little potion. When you go home, drink it, and you will fall down as if you are dead, but you will be aware of everything that is going on. I promise you that shortly I will come and revive you.” The young man agreed. He went home, took that potion, and fell down as if he were dead. His wife was the first one to find him, and she began screaming and yelling and could not be consoled. “This husband of mine,” she cried, “I love him so much. Why did God take him away so soon and so quickly?” His children also could not be consoled. All the neighbors were in the house trying to help the family. They were also talking about how much they loved this man. And the young man was thinking, I hope the holy man comes now, because he would then see for himself how much I am loved and cared for.
The holy man appeared. He asked, “What happened?” The wife said, ‘This husband of mine — l loved him so much and now he is gone, and I do not know what I am going to do without him.” The children said the same thing. The neighbors were talking about him too. The holy man announced, “I can revive this man. I have this little potion. If I put it into his mouth, he will come back to life.” And everyone stopped crying and looked forward in hope. “But there is one condition for this potion to work. One of you has to take half of it, and you will die. I am sure you love him very much and will have no problem doing this.”
The wife spoke first. She said, “What is a home without a mother? This man does not know how to cook. This man will not be able to take care of the children.” So, she said, she could not possibly take the potion. The children said, “Papa lived a good life. God will reward him. We are young and have our own lives to lead.” The neighbors had their own families, so no one among them was willing to take the potion. The holy man revived the young man, and without turning back, the young man followed the holy man into the forest.
Now, I am not suggesting that you leave all your loved ones and go into the forest. Don’t give your loved ones and friends more importance, more value than they have. Jesus said, “Unless you hate your father and your mother and your brothers and sisters, you cannot be my disciple.” I am not saying that you should stop loving your family. Jesus did not say that. Jesus said, “Love them with all your heart and all your soul. Love them like you love God. Love them like you love yourself.” Love them, but know that you have to let go of them at the same time so that you will be able to follow God totally and unconditionally.”
This is something that we all need to think about. We all have to face this illusion in some manner, and the consequences of how we do so are very real. Meditate on the grace to be more compassionate but have the strength to follow your true ‘North.’ Because when you have a true relationship with the Buddha or Christ, you will experience love everywhere. When you have a relationship with the true compassionate God, good things happen, wonderful things happen.
In compassion, we celebrate the good, because that good is also a part of us. When some person in the world does something extraordinary, I am drawn to that person, and I also feel extraordinary. I share in that experience because that person is part of me. If someone is celebrating, I celebrate with that person. If someone is hurting, I hurt with that person. So I am part of every person’s life, and each person is part of my life. Experiencing that human interconnectedness through our divine connection is the transition from charity to compassion.
Compassion is both very Buddhist and very Christian.