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Compassion

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Towards the Lost Paradise

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Compassion is the beginning of being; without it everything is chaos. Everything has come into existence through compassion and by compassion it continues to exist in harmony. The earth was put in order by messages coming from the other side of the heavens. Everything from the macrocosm to the microcosm has achieved an extraordinary harmony thanks to compassion.

All aspects of this life are a rehearsal for the afterlife and every creature is engaged in action to this end. In every struggle, order is evident; in every achievement, compassion is present. It is not possible that this effusion of compassion should go unnoticed.

Clouds hover above our heads on wings of compassion, from the centre of which rain comes down to our aid. Lightning and thunder bring us good tidings of rain with an uproar from the secret domain of compassion. The whole universe, in every particle of its being, ceaselessly sings the praises of the All-Compassionate. All creatures together extol compassion with voices peculiar to each.

Consider the worm. It is in much need of compassion being under foot, but itself displays compassion. Affectionate soil enfolds it; in turn it deposits thousands of eggs in each handful of the earth. The soil through this operation is aerated, swells, and reaches a state propitious to the sowing of seeds. While the soil is a means of compassion for worms, worms are a mercy for the soil. Words fail us to describe such careless ones who burn grass and roots to obtain manure. Poor man! He is unaware of being merciless to both soil and worms. Consider the bee approaching flowers, or the silkworm burying itself in its cocoon! What difficulties do they not encounter to take part in the symphony of compassion. Is it possible for us not to notice the pains those creatures suffer in order to provide man with honey and silk?

That is not all. Have you ever considered how heroic the chicken is that allows its head to be bitten off by a dog in order to save its young, and how praiseworthy the wolf is which, forgetting about its own hunger, offers its young the food it has found?

Everything speaks of compassion and promises compassion. Because of this, the universe can be considered a symphony of compassion. All kinds of voices proclaim compassion so that it is impossible not to be aware of it, and impossible not to feel the wide mercy encircling everything. How unfortunate are the souls who do not perceive this.

Man has a responsibility to show compassion to all living beings as a requirement of being human. The more he displays compassion, the more exalted he becomes, while the more he resorts to wrongdoing, oppression and cruelty, the more he is disgraced and humiliated, becoming a shame to humanity.

We hear from the Prophet of Truth that a prostitute went to Paradise because, out of compassion, she gave water to a poor dog dying of thirst, whilst another woman was condemned to the torments of Hell because she left a cat to die of hunger.

Mercy begets mercy. If one is compassionate on earth, then many good tidings come from heaven. Having perceived this secret, our ancestors founded a great many homes of compassion everywhere including foundations for protecting and feeding animals. A man of compassion was so deeply touched by a bird with broken legs, and a stork with damaged wings, that he established a sanctuary for injured birds; this kind of behaviour was entirely usual with Ottoman Turks.

We ought to be as compassionate to human beings as our ancestors were to animals. Alas! Just as we have not been compassionate to ourselves, so too we have ruined the next generation by showing complete indifference and pitilessness to the earth. We have actually caused the deterioration of the environment, in which it is ever more difficult to live.

We should point out, however, that abuse of the feeling of compassion can be harmful or even more harmful than being devoid of compassion altogether.

Oxygen and hydrogen, when mixed in the proper ratio, form one of the most vital of substances. On the other hand, when this ratio changes, each element resumes its original combustible identity. Likewise, it is of great importance to apportion the amount of compassion and to know who deserves it. Compassion for a wolf sharpens its appetite, and not being content with what it receives, it demands even more. Compassion for a rebel makes him much more aggressive, encouraging him to offend against others. It is not fitting to have compassion for the one who takes pleasure in poisoning like a snake; compassion for such a one means leaving the administration of the world to cobras.

Compassion for a bloodstained, bloodthirsty one is tyranny of the most terrible kind to all the oppressed and wronged people. Such an attitude is like being neglectful of the rights of lambs out of compassion for the wolves; it causes the whole of creation to sigh and moan, however much it might please the wolves. Nov 1980, Vol 2, Issue 22