Once you’ve seen the face of god,
You see that same face on everyone you meet.
The true god has no face. The true Tao has no name. But we cannot identify with that until we are of a very high level of insight. Until then, the gods with faces and the Tao with names are still more worthy of veneration and study than the illusions of the world.
With long and sincere training, it is possible to see the face of god. Holiness is not about scientific objectivity. It is about a deep and clear recognition of the true nature of life. Your attitude toward your god will be different than anyone else’s god — divinity is a reflection of your own understanding. If your experience differs from others, that does not invalidate your sense of godliness. You will have no doubts after you have seen.
Knowing god is the source of compassion in our lives. We realize that our separation from others is artificial. We are neither separate from other people not from Tao. It is only our own egotism that leads us to define ourselves as individuals. In fact, a direct experience of god is a direct experience of the utter universality of life. If we allow it to change our ay of thinking, we will understand our essential oneness with all things.
How does god look? Once you see god, you will see that same face on every person you meet.
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.
— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. — William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.
— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8
When I strike you,
your blood will certainly flow from my veins.
When you are starving,
your bloated belly is gnawing into my flesh.
The laughter in your eyes
lights up mine.
I can see my face in yours.
Can you see yours in mine?
— The Tao is Tao, 97
to show compassion
the acceptance of
— The Tao is Tao, 15
My greatest problem with becoming truly compassionate is letting go of my own ego. I can be compassionate towards others, but I make the mistake of expecting compassion in return. I need to learn to accept that others are not always compassionate, that they will not show me the same courtesy that I show to them, and be ok with that.I forgive others for their transgressions towards me, but others have not forgiven me, and yet, I must still feel compassion for them. My sadness these days is that they cannot open their own hearts enough to forgive, cannot let go of their prejudices. But, Tao teaches acceptance, and acceptance of others own hardness is one of the most difficult things to feel compassion towards.
It is the problem I see in America today. Those who claim compassion also shout for war, and the death penalty, and intolerance of others actions. How can they be like this? If they believe in compassion, they must feel it towards all others, not just those that agree with them and that they like, or those who they see as thinking the same way they do and believing in the same religion. For the sake of their version of heaven, they are willing to put the rest of us in hell. That is not compassion, that is hypocrisy.
And yet…. I must show compassion for them, and not judge them, and understand them and care about them in spite of how they act. This is difficult, but it must be done. Otherwise, I become the hypocrite that I detest.
Compassion, true compassion, is indeed a difficult thing, until we accept that all are one.
(originally posted in 2005, last posted in 2008. Sadly I feel the need to post it again today, in light of the news.)