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How do I become Baha’i?
Service

Service to Others, the Greatest Gift

David Langness | May 14, 2014

PART 2 IN SERIES Riots Gangbangers and Compassion

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | May 14, 2014

PART 2 IN SERIES Riots Gangbangers and Compassion

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

The great mystical Sufi poet Hafez wrote a powerful poem called With That Moon Language:

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud;

Otherwise, someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this,

This great pull in us to connect,

Why not become the one

Who lives with a full moon in each eye

That is always saying

With that sweet moon

Language

What every other eye in this world

Is dying to

Hear.

“Who lives with a full moon in each eye” – doesn’t that sound like the most fully alive and aware person you’ve ever met, a person with boundless love and compassion?

Father Gregory Boyle

Father Gregory Boyle

In the previous essay in this series, I introduced you to Father Gregory Boyle, or G-dog, as he’s affectionately known to the gangbangers whose lives he’s helped transform. Father Greg is one of the happiest and most fully-realized people I’ve ever met, because his heart has opened itself to compassion.

Here’s a brief story from G-dog’s touching, powerful book Tattoos on the Heart –The Power of Boundless Compassion, about a moment when Father Boyle asks a group of prisoners he’s teaching to define compassion:

No takers. The class collectively squirms and stares at their state-issue boots.

“Come on, now,” I say, “compassion – what’s it mean?”

Their silence is quite sustained, like visitors entering for the first time some sacred, mysterious temple.

Finally, an old-timer, down twenty-five years, tentatively raises his finger. I call on him.

“Well, now,” he says, all eyes on him, shaking his head, “compassion – that’s sumthin’ altogether different.” He ponders what he’ll say next. “Cause,” he adds humbly, “That’s what Jesus did. I mean, compassion…IS…God.” – p. 62.

Compassion is God. That prisoner, both Abdu’l-Baha and Father Boyle would agree, got it right:

O peoples of the world! The Sun of Truth hath risen to illumine the whole earth, and to spiritualize the community of man. Laudable are the results and the fruits thereof, abundant the holy evidences deriving from this grace. This is mercy unalloyed and purest bounty; it is light for the world and all its peoples; it is harmony and fellowship, and love and solidarity; indeed it is compassion and unity, and the end of foreignness; it is the being at one, in complete dignity and freedom, with all on earth. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 1.

These acts of radical compassion toward others, of “being at one, in complete dignity and freedom, with all on earth,” can deeply affect our souls. The Baha’i writings turn toward this theme over and over:

No soul should be hated, none neglected; nay, rather, their very imperfections should demand greater kindness and tender compassion. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 315.

Can you think of anyone you’ve ever known or heard about who fits this description, who hates no soul? Certainly the Prophets of God exemplify this highest expression of the virtue of compassion, and people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King reached that level of moral and spiritual development –but do any of your friends or relatives come to mind?

If they do, what a blessing you’ve received – just being exposed to and inspired by a truly compassionate human being can change your life. Their joy and fulfillment literally pours out of them. They see the shining spiritual reality at the core of every person, and focus on its growth and development. They truly love others. They have that sweet moon language in their eyes.

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Comments

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  • James Howden
    May 17, 2014
    -
    David, you did it again! You make these *collisions* happen, in this case a delightful mash-up of gang affiliation, Persian poetry, Catholic goodness and modern masters of compassion. (Yes, and THE Master.) Thanks for the Hafez -- what a true and gorgeous thing that is.
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