27 September 2023

Australians invited to learn how to ease suffering at compassion forum

The Australian Compassionate Council is offering Australians the chance to learn how to help communities heal. Picture: iStock.

Jenan Taylor

18 September 2023

Australians will have the chance to learn how to practice compassion without feeling burnout at a National Day of Compassion online forum.

It aims to empower participants to respond to various contemporary crises, and teach them about how deep wisdom can guide their decision making.

Organisers at the Australian Compassion Council say the annual forum encourages and supports participants to come together with care and learn about alleviating suffering, particularly during unsettled times.

National Lead Dr Lynne Reeder said people who were trying to support others through crises could feel overwhelmed, feelings which often were connected to emphatic distress.

Read more: People of faith invited to listen, learn Indigenous perspectives of Voice

This happened when they related too closely to the situation at hand, and could not see that they could step back to consider how to better approach it, Dr Reeder said.

She said the online gathering was where they could feel nurtured, and become resourced to act.

Dr Reeder said the Australian Compassion Council was part of international network, the Global Charter for Compassion, that focused on creating compassionate social infrastructure in the areas of health, education, interfaith and peace.

She said it worked with various local governments to create communities so that when flood, fire or pandemic happened, people were already connected with each other and able to proactively support communities to be strong.

Dr Reeder said there was a great deal of collective trauma around Australia, and the movement hoped to help heal that.

Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture ecumenical centre studies director Bishop Philip Huggins said the movement facilitated a grassroots response from people to make their communities, and hopefully the world, more compassionate.

The focus in Australia was on how to make the continent more compassionate, Bishop Huggins said.

He said the charter came from the work of Karen Armstrong, a scholar of major faith traditions, who found in every tradition the golden rule of doing to others, only as they would do to you.

“On that basis, the charter developed to try to give the human family a common morality and ethic, and cultivate that as a contrast to more adversarial or conflictual models of human behaviour,” Bishop Huggins said.

Read more: Gathering to back mindfulness for peace

Dr Reeder said it was the third time the movement’s online gathering would run and that the theme was Deep Wisdom.

She said the sessions during the day-long forum included wise leadership, Indigenous insights, and wisdom across the ages.

Buddhist monk, and humanitarian award recipient Matthieu Ricard will be among the presenters.

Brahma Kumaris administrative head Sister Jayanti Kirpalani will discuss deep wisdom that is sacred and practical for our times, in a session facilitated by Bishop Huggins.

Dr Reeder said social scientist Hugh McKay would be starting the day and it would finish with a reflection in which participants could talk about what was important to them.

Coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Peace, the free online National Day of Compassion event will be held on Thursday 21 September from 8:00am to 6.30pm.

To find out more, and to register, please see here.

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