Steve Schwartz — Practicing Compassion

Stephen Robbins Schwartz (1949–1993) was an aut­hor, publisher and retre­at lea­der. He recei­ved a B.A. in lite­ra­tu­re from Brandeis Unversity and an M.A. in edu­ca­ti­on from the State University of New York. 

He prac­ti­ced com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on-based com­pas­si­on in the 1980s and 1990s — for self and others — crea­ting inner cla­ri­ty and con­scious­ness about what is thin­king and what is pre­sent in the body — recon­nec­ting to life. He also assis­ted par­ti­ci­pan­ts in retre­ats or indi­vi­du­al ses­si­ons to find peace about tho­se pockets of pain which still lin­ger even after much inner work. 

I wish to crea­te this page for Steve, to the best of my abili­ties, to cele­bra­te his con­tri­bu­ti­on and to make it more available to a com­mu­ni­ty of peo­p­le, to whom his work might be of inte­rest. I did not know him per­so­nal­ly, howe­ver. Please cont­act me if you have sto­ries or infor­ma­ti­on that you might wish to include on this cele­bra­ti­on page. May his work find many friends. 

Doors to Peace (1987)
The Compassionate Presence (1988)
Angelic Dialogues (1993)

Doors to Peace (1987)

Stephen Schwartz was inspi­red by A Course in Miracles and held talks at events orga­ni­zed by the Foundation for Inner Peace, whe­re he spo­ke with no pri­or con­cept about spi­ri­tu­al mat­ters. Some tran­scripts of recor­dings of his talks are published in the book Problems Are the Doors Through Which We Walk to Peace (1987).

The Compassionate Presence (1988)

He descri­bes his method in The Compassionate Presence (1988). My under­stan­ding is that what Steve prac­ti­ced as Compassiona­te Presence ali­gns clo­se­ly with Empathy as Marshall Rosenberg, Martin Buber, Thich Nhat Hanh, Carl Rogers and Robert Gonzales and many others unders­tood it. I like to see how dif­fe­rent peo­p­le were able to teach and prac­ti­ce com­pas­si­on. I wish to include some excerp­ts from both books soon an this page.

Prayer of the Body (1992)

Sy Safransky published three artic­les about the work of Steve in the online news­pa­per The Sun, united under the hea­ding “Prayer of the Body”. I pre­sent a few excerp­ts here, along with a rea­ding of an inter­view he gave near the end of his life, in 1992.
The Work of Stephen Robbins Schwartz
Compassionate Self-Care — Exerpts
An Interview with Stephen Schwartz

Angelic Dialogues (1993)

Compiled in the last year of Stephen Schwartz’s life, Angelic Dialogues (1993) chro­nic­les dia­lo­gues that Stephen had with par­ti­ci­pan­ts of retre­ats from around the United States of America. It reve­als the depth of spi­ri­tu­al expe­ri­ence and com­pas­si­on that Stephen brought to his work with par­ti­ci­pan­ts. From the for­ward by Dr. Arnold Katz: “I belie­ve that Stephen’s work repres­ents a uni­que deve­lo­p­ment in our capa­ci­ty to enable human awa­re­ness and under­stan­ding …One of Stephen’s nota­ble ach­eie­ve­ments in what he calls “ange­lic dia­lo­gues” is to have adapt­ed the prac­ti­ce of pre­sence to the “inter­ac­ti­ve space.”…I have come to under­stand that Stephen’s work repres­ents a pro­found con­tri­bu­ti­on to our under­stan­ding of what it means to be a human being and what it means to be tru­ly hel­pful to ano­ther human being.

I second this opi­ni­on and hap­pi­ly pre­sent samples of his dia­lo­gues here:

1 — Compassionate Self-Care (intro­duc­tion)
2 — The space we fall into (Dale and Steve)
3 — So the­re you are with yours­elf (Linda and Steve)

Steve died in Spring 1993. Read here the obitua­ry for Stephen Schwartz by Sy Safransky.

Continuation - Robert Gonzales and the work of living compassion

Robert Gonzales app­re­cia­ted Stephen’s work, he must have see­med like a col­leage to him. Robert told me he found out about Steve, after Robert had alre­a­dy found his own way to increase con­nec­tion with human spi­ri­tua­li­ty, inner and outer — so he was not influen­ced by Steve — but nourished. 

Stephen’s work seems to come from a deep trust, inner intui­ti­on and spa­cious­ness. He models with gre­at sen­si­ti­vi­ty and deli­ca­cy how to bring peo­p­le into peaceful cont­act with need ener­gies, with the felt-sen­ses in their bodies. Meeting, accep­ting, sha­ring, let­ting in and let­ting through. His main focus are the living ener­gies in the body, the fee­lings and they are felt in their dyna­mic ali­veness, moment to moment. So for me the­re is a direct line from the work of Stephen Schwartz to the work of Robert Gonzales and all of us who fur­ther sup­port this approach to life.

Although it is clear to me that Marshall Rosenberg focu­sed on the same point of cont­act to spi­ri­tua­li­ty — con­nec­tion with life ener­gies in the body and bet­ween bodies — Marshall, by working clo­ser with the NVC pro­cess and its four steps, loses a bit of the imme­dia­cy that I feel pre­sent in Robert or Steve. To name the steps — needs, fee­lings, obser­va­tions, requests — has both advan­ta­ges and dis­ad­van­ta­ges, I find. On one hand it brings some won­derful cla­ri­ty and ori­en­ta­ti­on, on the other hand, one risks get­ting lost in the steps and thin­king, rather than feeling. 

Additionally Marshall had a push towards chan­ging the world, which, as he hims­elf rea­li­zed, could beco­me more of an obs­ta­cle to chan­ge, when not coming from a deep inner place of accep­tance. Steve is focus­sed on inner vio­lence, heal­ing and peace. 

I belie­ve the most powerful resour­ce and hel­pful ori­en­ta­ti­on is peace in our heart.