Compassion

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White Lotus PhotoThe discovery of our own loving kindness, a stable sense of self-esteem and a healthy, nourishing love for ourselves supplies the basis from which we can develop and begin to direct our minds to relieving the suffering of others.

Compassion is not simply a sense of sympathy or caring for someone who is suffering, not simply a warmth of heart towards the person before you, or a sharp clarity of recognition of their needs and pain. It is also a sustained and practical determination to do whatever is possible and necessary to help alleviate their suffering.


Water Lily PhotoThe particular strength of the Buddhist teaching is that it shows the ‘logic’ of compassion, as well as the damage that a lack of compassion has done to us.

When we think of the welfare of others, our mind automatically becomes more spacious, and we definitely feel more joy and contentment. When we have the motivation to benefit others, then our own welfare is taken care of as a matter of course.

The Dalai Lama often says that if you want to truly look after your own self-interest, then, at least be “wisely selfish,” rather than foolishly selfish. Take a good look and you will realize that if you truly wish to take care of yourself, it means giving up harming others, and trying to help them instead: “Our impression is that the practice of compassion is something good for others, but not for oneself. This is not the case. According to my own little experience, when I practise compassion, I feel the immediate, direct benefit. I derive benefit 100%; the benefit to others may only be 50%.”