Compassionate Understanding

Over the past 10 years, I’ve written many words about Rebecca and depression and bipolar disorder. Words of solace, words of caring, of anger, of forgiveness….words of passion, of dignity and indignity, of help and helpfulness…words of hope and hopelessness…and words of hopefulness.

But I have not written about the words chosen deliberately and specifically for Rebecca’s Dream’s mission…its reason for being: Rebecca’s Dream promotes awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real diseases. The vision of Rebecca’s Dream is to create a world of compassion and understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real diseases.

These words were written with great care and questioning: Why does Rebecca’s Dream exist? What is our purpose? What is our reason for being?

Ten years ago, we believed we hit the mark. But after a decade, do the mission and vision statements still convey our truth? Does Rebecca’s Dream continue to honor its original purpose? Are we fulfilling the dream that Rebecca Cutler had, to foster compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disease in the world?

YES, we are! And yes, we do!

According to the 2006 Macmillan English Dictionary, compassion is “a feeling of sympathy and caring for someone who is in a bad situation,” and compassionate means understanding and caring for someone who is in a bad situation.

The Dalai Lama said, “Compassion is not a religious business. It is a human business. It is not luxury; it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.” Compassion is the human business of Rebecca’s Dream—it’s what we do. It’s why we exist. It’s our purpose, our mission, our vision.

The most powerful quality we can cultivate toward ourselves and others is the quality of compassion. It will help us in the darkest and most stressful moments…in both our own lives and the lives of others. If we’re able to step back and really see and feel another’s humanness and humaneness, we are truly serving the greater good. Compassion becomes free-flowing love when we practice replacing the negativity of blame, judgment, and condemnation with a compassionate understanding of humanity. We’re all vulnerable to shame, and we all have tender hearts. If we can embrace this vulnerability that we share, we can all become stronger in the warmth of connection.

Rebecca’s Dream asks each of us to practice what the Dalai Lama calls a “human business.” I, too—in my most passionate outbursts—must remember that there’s someone on the other side of my words whose heart is tender and also vulnerable. I have to work on this aspect of my being every single day (my nickname is Spitfire, and believe me, that’s no accident).

Rebecca’s Dream continues to ask each and every one of us to remember—with compassion—that our family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors who are living with mental illness are tender-hearted and vulnerable…and that they, like us, need the embrace of warmth and kindness to keep on going…as the Dalai Lama says, to survive.

Ten years later, I am confident that Rebecca’s Dream fuels—and is fueled—by our original purpose…to promote compassionate understanding. I’m confident that, together, we are creating powerful positive change for those living with depression and bipolar disorder, as well as those who walk that path with them. I’m hopeful that, as the years go by, we’ll continue to soften hearts to accept the vulnerability of all.

I’m confident that, as a civilization, we will unlearn the myths and falsehoods of mental illness…and that we will fully understand, with compassion, that we can join our hearts and minds as brothers and sisters, together as one.

Compassionate understanding nurtures all of life on earth, all of humanity, and Rebecca knew this. Yes, the Phoenix continues to spread its wings to embrace all with grace and dignity…and, in doing so, to promote the “peace and mental stability” that is “essential for human survival.”

With compassionate love and understanding,