One of the fundamental precepts of the Zoroastrian religion is the principle of Asha, variously interpreted to mean ‘Truth’, ‘Righteous Conduct’ and ‘Living in Harmony with all good creations of Ahura Mazda’. The Truth that Asho Zarathushtra expounded thousands of years ago regarding the need for human beings to live in harmony with all good creations was later ratified by renowned scientists like Dr. Albert Einstein.
Widen The Circle Of Harmony And Compassion: In the words of Albert Einstein, “A human being is a part of the whole called by us as universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
This is such an amazing concept – the need to free ourselves from the delusion that we are separate from the rest of creation and widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures, all human beings and the whole of nature in its divine beauty.
In the Ushtavaiti Gatha Ha 43, Asho Zarathushtra sings: “Ushta ahmai yahmai ushta kahmaichit” which means “Happiness to those who makes others happy.” However, if we apply the Principle of Asha to this verse, one could infer that happiness comes to those who live in harmony!
In Zoroastrian theology, every good creation – be it the sky, water, earth, vegetation, animal or human being – is of value because these are the six good creations of Ahura Mazda. In particular, human life and human dignity regardless of social or economic status, or for that matter, accomplishments (or the lack of it), is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of death. It is for this reason that we all need to, in the words of Dr. Einstein, widen our circle of compassion and embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Compassion As Responsibility…
Being compassionate is a responsibility. However, most people equate ‘being responsible for something’ with ‘being at fault for something’ and so they end up taking responsibility for nothing in their lives. What is important is to see responsibility as a Boon rather than a Bane. A good Zoroastrian takes nothing for granted and considers nothing as entitlement. Yes, do love your own self first but never at the cost of hurting or harming others. According to Zoroastrian texts, Ahura Mazda did not create human beings because He was lonely or needed something to do. Human beings were created in order to bring about perfection (Khordad or Avestan Havratat) to our perfecting material world. Being Ahura Mazda’s final and best creation also implies that human beings were created in order to build harmonious relationship with all other good creations.
The difference between kindness and compassion is that kindness is an action while compassion is a feeling for another living being that leads to action. An act of kindness is possible even without any feeling towards another person. But compassion is about empathy and relating to the other person’s needs or feelings. A doctor may be kind to his patient. But a compassionate doctor is one who feels the pain and suffering of his poor patient. There are stories galore about doctors who not only forego their fees but quietly slip some money under the patient’s pillow or place some money between the folds of the prescription that they write for the patient.
Compassion Does Not Require Wealth…
While wealth is considered positive (as long as it is created righteously and applied for righteous purposes), one does not necessarily have to be wealthy in order to be either charitable or compassionate. One could be helpful and kind even if one is not wealthy. Giving of one’s time, knowledge, skill, encouragement, emotional support and care are precious gifts worth far more than simply giving money.
Further, simply moaning or feeling sad about the poor or needy is not enough. Compassion is about doing something to alleviate poverty or distress. Every good action begins as a good thought but the converse is not always true. Being compassionate is a composite whole – it’s integration of good thoughts leading to good words and good deeds. Indeed, happiness is when what we think, do and say are in perfect harmony.
More importantly do not procrastinate. If you feel a genuine urge to do something good simply follow the Nike tag-line and ‘Just do it’! Don’t wait to become rich. Even the poor can be caring and compassionate. Don’t wait till you are old or retired to volunteer at a later age you may not have the energy and enthusiasm that you have right now.
And, always remember that being kind not only has a direct effect on others, but it also has a positive impact on those who practice random acts of kindness in day-to-day life. Indeed, we should practice kindness because to be kind, is good, it feels good and does good both to the giver and the receiver! Rightly is it said, “there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Caring Leads To Cheerfulness
Being a caregiver is one of the most important and personally rewarding roles a person can play in his or her lifetime. Caregiving, be it to a loved one or as a volunteer to a stranger does not just have a positive impact on those who receive care, but on the caregiver as well, giving one a sense of purpose and joy. Care and compassion bring Cheer to both, the care giver and receiver. It is the very essence of living in harmony!
Experiencing harmony is a feeling of peace of mind derived from self-acceptance, acceptance of the people and circumstances around, and acceptance of the past. Overall, harmony is equivalent to happiness. In fact, harmony is a precondition for development, progress, fulfilment, overall happiness and survival of both – the individual and any group to which he or she belongs. It unites people despite their diversity and prevents enmity, violence and conflict. Fortunately, harmony is a choice that one can consciously opt for.
This New Year, let’s try to be more caring and compassionate towards everyone. One may have one’s own troubles and battles at home or at the workplace. But, always remember, there are many who may be fighting a harder battle than yours. Help to row their boat ashore and you will find a shore for yourself as well.
Here’s to collecting more smiles instead of frowns; being more understanding and less judgemental; feeling more blessed than stressed and being more loving than hateful!