Genuine compassion is based on the recognition that others have the right to happiness just like yourself, and therefore even your enemy is a human being with the same wish for happiness as you, and the same right to happiness as you. A sense of concern developed on this basis is what we call compassion; it extends to everyone, irrespective of whether the person’s attitude toward you is hostile or friendly.-the Dalai Lama
What would this world be like if each of us felt genuine compassion for all of the other people on the planet? What if, instead of judgment, we passed on love and encouragement for people to find their own ways and live their own lives? What if we could feel compassion even for those people who hurt us, and not respond to them with anger and harshness and some of the other defensive emotions that we feel and show?
It can be very hard to recognize, though, that the people who most annoy us, who most hurt us, have just as much of a right to happiness as we do. Sometimes it seems that they make themselves happy by making us miserable, so it’s hard for us to see that they need our compassion. But no matter what a person does to us or says about us, that person has just as much of a right to be happy as we do. It’s not an exclusive right.
Perhaps that person’s actions are the result of a poor influence, someone who has taught him or her that hurting others is a way to make oneself happy. In that case, the person deserves even more of our compassion, because he or she is traveling a road that certainly won’t lead to happiness.
Compassion isn’t just for the objects of our compassion–it’s much like forgiveness in that it serves a great purpose for us, ourselves–it gives us greater peace of mind and a stronger sense of love of life. And once we know that everyone deserves our compassion, things get easier for us because we no longer have to try to decide who deserves our compassion and who doesn’t.
Questions to consider:
For whom do you generally feel the most compassion?
Have you ever felt compassion for people who have hurt you?
How did it feel to do so?
Who are our role models for compassion? Are there many of them?
Are you a role model for others?
For further thought:
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness
of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. -Thomas Merton