Join Date: Mar 2005
Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts
By Jamie Shane
Thursday, January 26, 2006
If you have ever listened to the teachings of the Dalai Lama, you will understand that his entire mission is about compassion. He believes all humans are capable of compassion and, by expressing it, we can turn the course of humanity.
What a lovely idea.
Where that concept gets bumpy is in most people’s perception of compassion. All too often this generous emotion translates into pity. Pity, when distilled, has roots in judgment, which misses the mark of compassion entirely.
So what exactly is compassion? And how do we find it?
Compassion grows from the seeds of empathy. Not sympathy. Empathy. That sense of “that could be me.” Or, better yet, “that is me.” Compassion comes from realizing that we are all human, and, on the deepest (or highest, if you like) level we are all the same.
We are all traveling through a life experience. For some it is a prosperous existence. For others it is one of troubles.
Compassion is realizing that a different path of experience does not make one person better than the other.
Compassion is knowing that all people are worthy of happiness, regardless of how different they are from you.
Compassion is developing the ability to love without convenient restraint.
Developing compassion is often a difficult challenge. There are people in the world who do bad things. But compassion can’t pick and choose because then it slides down the slippery slope of judgment.
We are taught in so many subtle ways to look down on others. Not consciously, not with awareness, but we create rifts between ourselves and others based on social differences, economic & cultural differences, or differing beliefs. How easy it would be to qualify compassion based on what we believe is worthy of it. This subtle belief of “look out for your own” paralyzes compassion and neglects the larger picture.
In order for the world to change you must love everybody as you love yourself.
And I don’t mean that you have to give every stranger a big, fat hug and kiss. But you do have to believe, with every kernel of your being that that person — no matter how different, how difficult or misguided — has a right to live. Better yet, they have a right to love.
Without that belief, without compassion, we will tear this whole world to bits and find ourselves out of luck in terms of survival.
So, the next time you are out and about, maybe in the post office, the mall or Starbucks, practice your compassion. Standing in the crowd, open your heart and look at all of the people around you. Feel, for just a moment, the thread of love that connects you to them.
Pick out one person and have compassion for them. Look at how they walk or stand, read their face, their body language, look at their eyes. Make no judgment, but experience that person as if it were you in their clothes, shoes, face, body. Be, for just a moment that complete and total stranger. Experience the full force of real compassion.
But let’s not stare, folks, that just creeps people out, no matter how much you love them.
Our connection to one another is the most valuable possession we have. It is what keeps the world spinning. Our diversity keeps it interesting. Loving one another, even if from a distance, is what will heal us all.
But, hey, you don’t have to take my word on it. But maybe you should at least listen to His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of all Tibetan Buddhists. Maybe he’s got it right. You think?