The dictionary definition of mercy goes as – ‘compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone’. Wiki shares compassion as “a feeling that motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pain of another and themselves”.
Mercy, the way I understand it involves – unconditional acceptance and compassion. When we see someone in utter deprivation or in a state of suffering we feel mercy but somewhere our mercy is limited to that.
Think about this scenario, What is your reaction when a person is very angry or perhaps angry on you? Is your reaction anger too?
When someone gets angry on me, it seems ‘natural’ for me to be offended and by no means feel compassion for the other person. But think of it this way, when a person is angry, is he not suffering? The one who possesses anger is the first to be harmed by it. Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
When the person is acting out of the egoic-self, in this example resulting in anger, we need to understand that he/she is ‘possessed’. Instead of taking it personally, we need to feel mercy on them. “Forgive them, father, they know not what they do”, said Jesus on being crucified on the cross. That is mercy! Knowing we all are children of God and innately very beautiful and it is only when we are ‘possessed’ by our ‘egoic’ self we act out of anger, jealousy, hatred, complaining, criticising, blaming etc. When a soul is possessed, the possessing entity takes over. Similarly in this case ego takes over and the soul is not aware of what he/she is doing and ends up creating suffering for themselves. They jeopardize their relationships and other facets of life. So we really need to feel compassion for that soul since he/she is suffering. We will have to accept everyone’s part in this drama of life as it is. This doesn’t mean we be passive, but we make sure we don’t create suffering within us even when the other person is creating suffering. So we basically first accept the situation and then choose the necessary response.
Another and very important aspect of mercy is having mercy on oneself. Striving to be the best version of self is having mercy on self. To take care of our physical health is also an important aspect of it. Instead of taking our body for granted, we take care of it so that we create less/no suffering due to our ill health. Apart from physical care, we also need to take care of the driver of this body – the soul, that is You! A soul creates its own suffering due to the limited sense of self. Having mercy on oneself is to make an effort to go beyond the identification of self with the limited and become unlimited again. In other words, we become our eternal self again. When we are in the awareness of who we truly are, then we experience a very deep sense of peace, love and joy within. We become an observer to this play of life, not allowing to influence or affect us hence not create suffering. But this constant awareness will only come by practice just like anything else. This requires us to practice self-awareness/meditation rigorously and along our journey, we will need knowledge, discipline, patience, perseverance, love and of course mercy on the self. Knowing that we are ‘possessed’ and not doing anything about it is insanity and taking action to let go of this ‘possessing’ entity, the ego, is showing mercy on the self.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.Bible, Matthew 5:7
One who is merciful unto self and others, mercy from the Supreme will come knocking on the door of their heart. Mercy is a quality attributed to God, the more we have this quality the closer the relationship with him thereby allowing his grace to enter our lives.
Additionally, the cause of all suffering, say poverty, corruption, physical and emotional abuse, all comes down to a ‘human being’ forgetting that it is a ‘being’ – soul, an infinitesimally small point of light, pure, eternal and unlimited. When we are working on transcending the ego, when we are in the space of love, vibrations of the stream of love flowing inside of us radiates to the entire cosmos. The world is thirsty of such vibrations of pure love. When we are ‘being love’ then we become instrumental in quenching the thirst in this world. Such a person who is in the process of self-realization, one can call him a Spiritual Social Worker.
Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.Sri Ramana Maharishi
When one candle is lit, it can be used to lit another. When we liberate ourselves from suffering we become instruments to help liberate others from their suffering. This is mercy at the deepest level – to liberate one from suffering. It starts with me first. When I change, the world changes.