Just for today, I will be compassionate to myself and others. The fifth Reiki precept asks us to “remember the connection among all things within the universe.” 
A soft, gentle presence and the scent of hay drew close with Cow. I immediately felt comfort in Cow’s presence. She said, I am familiar with your project. I am pleased to contribute. It is all for the greater good.
“Thank you, Cow. Would you share your thoughts on compassion, for self and others?”
Of course. She paused. You understand that there cannot be compassion for others without compassion for self. All are connected. When you offer compassion for others without being compassionate toward yourself, what you offer others is diminished. Each is part of the whole. To value some and not others diminishes the whole.
“Cow, what is compassion?”
A good question. Kindness, perhaps. Loving kindness. Respect. You do not need to agree with each part (or person), but refrain from judgment. Each part of the whole has its role. Some are easier than others, but all have their challenges.
Compassion is also acceptance of one’s own failings and shortcomings as well as those of others. Hold a standard, yes. Teach and encourage, yes. Love and accept, yes. But do not judge, for one never knows the full story of another.
Offering compassion to one’s self is often more challenging than offering it to another, for you may be more critical of yourself than of others. If all were perfect, there would be no need to live a life. I would not like that, for there would be no grasses to chew, calves to bear, gathering of kindred. Be kind to yourself. Extend to yourself the same kindness—compassion, understanding—that you do to others. The whole will benefit.
“Thank you, Cow. I appreciate your wisdom.” Cow breathed her hay-scented breath on me and withdrew.
Then bubbles surrounded me. I heard the clicking of dolphin voices. “Greetings, Dolphin, welcome to our discussion of compassion.”
Dolphin answered, It is interesting to speak of something that is part of life as we live it—to separate a concept from a way of life. We do not regard what you call compassion as a separate energy. It is part of the flow. For us, the good of the pod is most important. The safety, feeding, nurturing of the whole. Within the whole are the many parts. Each part has a role. When one is ill or damaged, we all swim in support. None can be greater or lesser and maintain the strength and wellness of the pod.
When you speak of compassion toward self and others, you create a separation between self and others. This works against the wellbeing of the whole. We know that humans can be very hard of yourselves, as if you have forgotten how to play. Some humans give all to others in the name of service, and withhold from self. This would bring weakness to the pod. The pod has health and strength when each member both gives and receives. Each gives in the same measure that each receives. If you do not receive this gift of compassion given to yourself, then you do not have much to share with others.
The way humans would best benefit from this precept is to remember that the inflow and outflow of these energies must be kept in balance for it to flow fully.
As Dolphin continued, I was aware of the depths of ocean, and sparkling water.
Cow has said that compassion is both loving kindness and respect. She has put human terms to something greater so that you may understand. What you call compassion is the flow of love, of oneness, that originates with the Source of Life. It is love of the inner being. It is forgiveness and understanding, to use other human terms. To have compassion is to greet each being—including oneself—as a being.
When you allow—invite—this energy to flow through you, it flows best through a clear channel. There is no self and other. There is only the invitation to enter the space of love. You have but a glimpse of the vastness of the resource upon which you call. To offer yourself as a portal, a conduit, and feel yourself unworthy, or not be willing to receive as well, is to diminish what can be shared.
These are concepts that flow together as one wave upon another. To summarize, you must be willing to give and receive, for then there is balance. To give less, or receive less, diminishes the whole. Is that clear?
I thanked Dolphin and Cow. Cow had reminded me that each is part of the whole of life, all have value, and we never know the full story of another. Dolphin said that to think of ourselves as self and other creates a separation. For there to be balance, we can give to the extent we are willing to receive. Both had reminded me of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s words, “Without loving-kindness for ourselves it is difficult, if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others.” 
Just for today, I will be compassionate to all beings—myself and others.
 Shoden and Animal Reiki Training: The Basics, manual, Animal Reiki Source, 2010, p. 9.
2 Eden Steinberg, editor, The Pocket Pema Chodron, Shambala Pocket Classics, 2008,p. 41.
Note: This is the fifth of five articles about animal perspectives on the Reiki precepts.
Rev. Nancy Schluntz is a SARA practitioner member and offers Reiki for animals (and their people) who are approaching the end of life. Nancy also offers Reiki to animals at the wildlife rehabilitation center where she volunteers.