The Power of Compassion

“To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.”

–Sun Tsu



There is a story about a great conqueror who arrived with his troops in a foreign land.   He ordered his officers to set fire to the ships, and as his troops watched the smoke rise to the sky, the conqueror said: “that was your way home.   It is gone. There is no retreat. We win, or we die.

They won.




The “Parts Party” technique from Ericksonian hypnosis suggests that we have multiple aspects to our “selves” and that if you go into a relaxed state and begin to envision these different aspects, you can actually get them to interact more peacefully:   “passion, meet fear.   Adventurousness, meet intimacy” in a way that acknowledges that EVERY part of you has just been trying to move you away from pain toward pleasure.  But they can have conflicting perspectives on how to do that.  If your parents had horrible screaming arguments about money, you might think that money means safety but also pain, and the loss of love.  Imagine THAT mixed message–you would constantly work to have enough money to survive…but couldn’t ever enjoy success, and would risk sabotaging your own efforts.


In essence, you would have your brakes on.  What do you do?  Constantly beat the hell out of yourself for your errors, when there is a part of you that actually believes that “success=pain”?   This stuff goes deep.


The part of you trying to sabotage your finances IS NOT YOUR ENEMY.  And treating it as if it is will accomplish nothing.  There is a belief in some shamanic cultures that the demons haunting your soul can become allies, protective dragons, if confronted and challenged: what do you want?  What are you trying to accomplish?


Our problem is not that we contain multitudes. The problem is that those multitudes don’t talk.  Don’t communicate.  Blame and condemn rather than consider.


When you do that, that part puts its metaphorical fists up, stops listening, and FIGHTS.  What is worse, is that if you don’t understand that “Money will destroy love”, desperate to protect you, will ally itself with a negative belief like “money is evil” and “successful people are thieves” and even “love equals pain” because, after all, you DO need money…


What a mess.  And this mess exists within us as individuals, in relationships (where people often blame their partners without ever acknowledging that THEY chose those partners), and it happens daily on the national level, where political parties demonize each other.


If you don’t  give people a way to connect with the goodness within  themselves, not see that they have done the best they can with the resources they have…they cannot but fight.  You have placed them in the position of win or die.  The precise position that creates the fiercest fighters.  You do NOT want to fight with someone who will die if he loses.  For your own sake, always give your opponent a way out. A way to see their INTENTIONS as positive, even if their actions have been negative.


The more critical it is to win, the more important it is to look to the words of strategists like Sun Tsu, not allow yourself to fall into hatred, fear, and anger.   They are seductive. And they mobilize.   But this isn’t arm-wrestling, it is chess.  Play to win.   Compassion with yourself, your partner, your neighbors is a WINNING TACTIC, not just a “nice way to be” or a “pipe dream.”


And when the battle is for the future of our children and grandchildren?    Act with passion, yes…but strategize in the very coldest blood, while always remembering that it is better to create alliances than destroy fortresses.







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