These Beatitudes are the means to expand our conscious awareness so that we can experience a greater reality and understand the events in our daily lives with more clarity. We can be so contracted within our being sometimes, so concerned with ourselves, that we find it difficult to expand beyond the perimeter of our skin to be in touch with what is outside us. If we think about our understanding of mercy we might find that we would prefer to draw mercy to us rather than show it to others.
Mercy is not a word that is used very often in the English language. If we are religious and we do something wrong we might be inclined to pray, “Lord have mercy on me!” Or we might hope that the judge shows some mercy when sentencing someone. This would indicate that we think of mercy in terms of forgiveness.
Yet forgiveness speaks to us of one person having more power than the other and this leads us away from the true meaning of mercy. Mercy actually speaks more about equality than superiority. To be merciful, eleēmones, really means that we feel the same as the other person. We are at one with them, we are so harmonised with them that we share their experiences as if we were them. If they are feeling sad we experience their sadness as if it was our own. We feel the exact pain of their sadness within our own being. It is in the sharing of experiences that the pain is lifted; what was contracted now expands. Such experiences are deeply compassionate and arise out of a deep love for our fellow human beings.
Compassion is experienced when mercy and judgment are in harmony with each other. We find it in the harmony of the two extremes; not too soft, not too harsh, not too cold, not overly enthusiastic and do on. Then our judging becomes discernment and our mercy becomes kindness. Furthermore, we don’t only express this mercy towards others; we express it toward ourselves as well. It isn’t about doing anything to anyone, it is about a state of being that is silently experienced by all concerned.