This is another one of the common landscape features we can come upon when we explore who or what we are, or even if we don’t: compassion independent of a feeling.
As long as we quite strongly take ourselves to be a separate individual, compassion is relatively closely connected with a certain heart feeling. We feel our heart open up, and we act on that open heart. But then something happens, our heart closes down, and we don’t act that way anymore. Or we may still act in a similar way, but now from a should, a belief which usually comes from our culture, religion or even spiritual tradition.
There is nothing wrong in any of this. It is where we are, the particular landscape we are exploring here and now. And it is beautiful with the sweet heart feeling, and the actions that come from it. And even acting on those shoulds has its place as well. As long as we strongly take ourselves to be a separate individuals, shoulds sometimes keep ourselves and others out of trouble. There is a reason why cultures instill them in us the way they do.
But then this changes in a few different ways.
First, through expanding our circle of care, compassion and concern, our circle of us. When we see someone as us, we need less of the heart feeling to act compassionately. (That feeling is there more readily too, for that matter.) As long as situations are not too extreme, and even then sometimes, we will act with respect, concern and care towards these beings.
Whether they are fellow humans, animals, plants, the Earth, and maybe in the future – who knows – fellow beings of this galaxy, as long as our circle of care expands to include them, we will act relatively compassionately towards them because they too belong to us.
Then, more thoroughly, there is another shift when we discover ourselves as Ground, as awakeness, and as this field of awakeness and form, inherently absent of an I with an Other. We may even just glimpse or intuit it, and that is often enough for a change to begin to take place.
Here we realize that all beings and all form is the one I without an Other, and as we deepen into seeing, feeling, and loving this, it seeps into how this human self lives its life. It naturally acts compassionately towards others, with whatever skillful means it has at its disposal, just as naturally as the left and helps the right when it is needed.
At this point, it all happens independent of a feeling. If that sweet heart feeling is there, good. If not, that is fine too. Acting with care and compassion is freed from the feeling.
Another way of saying this is that when this human self operates within the context of Big Mind noticing itself, Big Heart naturally comes in. And Big Heart is sometimes associated with that heart feeling and sometimes not, but its activities in and through our life is not dependent on it.