Compassionate Circumstances

meditation heart

Circumstances often dictate our character, not our character is defaulted or flawed. Our character may be hindered by such conditions that we act in ways outside of our nature. This excerpt from Mirror of Intimacy: Daily Reflections on Emotional and Erotic Intelligence by Alex Katehakis and Tom Bliss reflects on circumstance from a compassionate viewpoint. It is a daily meditation to bring our awareness to and intent for more compassion for ourselves and to others. No one knows the exact circumstances anyone is under.

At the conclusion is a set of questions to journal about your personal circumstances and how they affect your life at this moment.


“I am tired of people saying that poor character is the only reason people do wrong things. Actually, circumstances cause people to act a certain way. It’s from those circumstances that a person’s attitude is affected followed by weakening of character. Not the reverse.”
~ Shannon L. Adler

The conditions we’re living in at any given moment color our perceptions of our own and others’ lives. We’re all born into unique circumstances, and cannot ever completely understand another’s situation, no matter the depth of love and intimacy shared. Details of our life partners and even our children conditions are not all known because every individual’s circumstance combines so many levels of life: material, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It always sounds a bit funny to hear people gossip about the personal lives of celebrities, as we seldom know the real-life situations of our friends and family, much less of people we’ve never met. In fact, we rarely know our own lives half the time. We’re continually faced with confounding circumstances that try our patience, perhaps giving us unending opportunities for spiritual refinement.

When it comes to the elements that set the stage for our lives at birth, we may wonder whether caregivers create or react to, a child’s personality. The dispute between nature versus nurture is longstanding but in recent years we’ve come to believe that a child is shaped by both. Perhaps all potential influences on us co-exist in a symbiotic state–a house of mirrors from personal to interpersonal to planetary. Ultimately one of the only knowable truths is your on circumstance, which includes your actions, as well as your perceptions. Perceiving that others suffer more or less than we suffer can be as much a part of our circumstance as the home we live in, the work we do, or the relationships we’ve built. May we hold a place of compassion for the circumstances of others, as we know from experience the over-riding importance of our own.


What are your current circumstances? List the first five that come to mind on a blank piece of paper. Now draw a circle, and create a pie chart to show the amount of “pie” each circumstance eats up in your life.
Did you list only material circumstances or did you include emotional or mental circumstances, too? How much do love, anger, grief, and other feelings emerge on any given day? Do you have dominant thoughts? How does your mindset inform your circumstance?
Reflect on the outer circumstances that indirectly affect your life–the perceivable circumstances of your lover, family, friends, community, and world. Do you recognize their circumstances as yours by association?