Compassion - What I learnt from Anu Aga!

Recently I had this opportunity to attend a webinar by Anu Aga and Shaheen Mistry – Anu ma’am - former chairperson of Thermax Group and Shaheen the CEO of Teach for India and founder of Akanksha Foundation – both exceptionally amazing women working in the development sector for quite a long time now.

The webinar was titled‘’Compassion – Today more than ever

Yes! It is the need of the hour – It stands so relevant today - I was so very tempted to attend it and I am glad that I did.

I had struggled with my understanding of compassion, not very clear with its definition, often confusing it with kindness and charity – but this particular 1 hour conversation between Anu ma’am and Shaheen helped me gain a different perspective and made me understand Compassion, Kindness, Pity and Empathy very clearly. It also helped me understand the need of compassion and the limit of it.

It was indeed quite an enriching experience! I could not resist but to share my learning from it.

When asked to define Compassion – Anu ma’am very aptly said that compassion is human kindness leading to reaching out to people, understanding and accepting them without judgement. She added that it is compassion when it leads to action and not only limited to your feeling sorry about a person or his/her condition. Feeling sorry leads to guilt and whatever you do because of your guilt isn’t actual compassion – it is not about doing some charity or sacrifice!

How true is that!

She also mentioned that giving away money is the easiest of all – what stands out is collaborating, devoting and being there working towards making out things possible. I personally believe that not everybody can do so and those who share their hard-earned money without any expectation, also show some level of compassion but yes being on the ground and delivering requires a lot of courage – those are exceptionally compassionate people.

What stood out for me was her pointing out that we must never take for granted the compassion from our family members toward us. Also, that Compassion starts with embracing yourself as who you are – accepting yourself with all your flaws – by being self-compassionate – this I think is very important to maintain a balance.

I have never met Anu ma’am in person and had never heard her before, I was listening to her for the very first time and yet I can vouch for the fact that she is a very honest person – you could feel her and her honesty! It takes a lot of self-acceptance and courage to be speak up your mind without any fear of being judged – now I am her admirer – she mentioned that she has developed all of this over a period of time and there is a lot more to learn to be her extra-ordinary self! How wonderful is that – this level of maturity is may be what humans are expected to develop in life. Not everybody can.

Shaheen asked her if one can be selectively compassionate and told us about Anu ma’am not being so compassionate to animals, she sporting accepted that she didn’t like a lot of animals and not that over time she has started loving any except for her daughter’s pet dog – she mentioned that she has learnt to accept them but not love them as much – but now she is okay with them!

Selective compassion helps us channelizing our energy and resources effectively. Quoting the example of Shaheen herself, on how she is working on eliminating Educational Inequality, Anu mentioned that we humans are not that evolved yet to eliminate all our fears and prejudices – had we, then we would all be saints!

Beautifully describing the relationship between courage and compassion, she mentioned that they must go hand in hand and the more compassionate you are, the more strength you gain to reach out. Every human has both an ordinary and an extra-ordinary side – it is easier to be ordinary but one must work towards tap in to his/her extra-ordinary self!

Compassion energizes you!

There was a question about difference between compassion, empathy and pity – Anu ma’am, very wonderfully said that compassion at first is about being aware of one-self and others - their circumstances and conditions. Empathy- she defined as understanding the pain and respecting the other person by helping them reach their potential and not having pity – of treating yourself superior and the person in need as inferior. One must be beware of pity and ensure that he/she is not misunderstanding compassion with pity or sacrifice and treating others as unequal.

During the session, Anu ma’am had also recommended two books

1. Whatever it takes by Geoffrey Canada

2. Grey Sunshine by Sandeep Rai

I have read Grey Sunshine and I would too personally recommend the book – it leaves you with so much hope and it will definitely get you thinking for good. My next read surely is ‘Whatever it takes’!

She also mentioned the role of meditation in her life and how valuable it has been to her – I could not agree more with her on the benefits of meditation – it helps you in being mindful of all your actions and helps you in being calm and composed – which is very important in times of uncertainty – like now!

Very wonderfully she concluded on the importance of being calm by quoting an analogy that the more you chase a butterfly the further it shall go, unless you just sit calm and may be the butterfly itself comes and rest over your shoulder – being calm helps you gain clarity and understanding.

I was so moved by her thoughts – I wish one day I am as emotionally sound as she is today. Her clarity of thoughts and honesty are rare attributes in human today.

Though I have always known that preaching alone would never bring about any change – it is when you show it through your actions that things would become effective – this webinar helped me reinforce this thought very well - Act and not only Preach!

I will now look more towards finding uniqueness in people and understanding the differences that we have – be more aware and be an enabler to help people be their best! I would work towards attaining a state of mind where I do not expect things to turn out as I want but being the best, I can and accept the outcome irrespective of any outcome.

There was a lot more discussed in the webinar and everything mentioned was worth noting and pondering upon – the points mentioned in this write-up made me think more and helped me revaluate myself and my understanding. I cannot be more thankful to her and Firki team for this webinar.

The webinar is available on Firki website – you too can watch it for free here –

Hope you enjoy the same.

Thanks for Reading!

Stay Safe and Take Care!

#Compassion #Firki #TeachForIndia #Webinar #learningsutras

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