The scope of compassion


I don’t know much about Kadampa Buddhism, but this teaching about compassion comes from a page at a Kadampa site called “About Dharma,” and I like how it lays out so simply WHY we need to WORK on our practice of compassion for all beings:

When our family and friends are suffering we easily develop compassion for them, but we find it far more difficult to feel sympathy for people we find unpleasant or for strangers. Furthermore, we feel compassion for those who are experiencing manifest pain, but not for those who are enjoying good conditions, and especially not for those who are engaging in harmful actions. If we genuinely want to realize our potential by attaining full enlightenment we need to increase the scope of our compassion until it embraces all living beings without exception, just as a loving mother feels compassion for all her children irrespective of whether they are behaving well or badly. This universal compassion is the heart of Mahayana Buddhism.

Now, if you still have a little time to spare, read this short-short story, Tears in the Rain, from the blog “Zen Moments.” It shows us how powerful compassion can be, and how just the smallest action we take can mean so much to another person.



4 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this. and I was really moved by the story of the woman and her yoga mat. Outside of practice, practice, practice on the cushion, how can we develop more compassion? I have one in my life who I continue to wish I had more compassion for, but it doesn’t seem to arise much in me towards her. And besides continuing to sit, I am not sure how to cultivate it.

  2. Yes, I have issues within my own family that challenge me in trying to practice compassion. There are people I just don’t like to be around. So, I avoid them totally. But this causes them great suffering, and I know that.

    I want to be able to overcome my own dislike for being around them, but it is proving very hard for me to do this. It is so much nicer (for me) to avoid being with them. This is so very selfish of me.

  3. For many years, I thought of compassion as an “outside” action (and I still do). Then one day I was looking at a statue of Guanyin and wondering about the eye in the hand (as so beautifully captured in the accompanying photograph).

    And it occurred to me that compassion might be primarily an “inside” action – one of scouring our own mind for harmful and hurtful intentions and desires. When our bodhisattva eye spots such an intention, the bodhisattva hand is instantly present to cut it off.

    And in this way we manifest compassion for the entire world.

  4. The one I was speaking of is in my family (my sister). I suppose, as today’s post points towards, “the truth is already the truth”, and if I do not have compassion arising from within towards my sister, then that is the truth, in the moment. I can’t force it. Just observe what does arise, and with more practice, eventually, I may have more compassion for her.

    The other person is you. Like your mirror.