The longer I practice, the more I realize about the connections that link all of us. My ability to experience compassion increases bit by bit.
One thing that has struck me repeatedly in recent months is that the more we are able to see and feel the suffering that others have experienced, or are experiencing, the less patience we might have with people whose lives are (or have been) relatively easy and secure. This feeling of impatience makes me want to shout: “Oh, just get over it!” That, of course, would not be very compassionate! Also, it shows my tendency to create dualism. My mind separates people into “those who have really suffered” and “those who have not suffered much.” That’s a mistake. Buddhism teaches that one is not different from the other.
So, I need to find a balance — or keep a middle position — so that I can recognize that someone’s little minor problems really are large and insurmountable to him or her.
For some people, every little thing is the biggest tragedy to them, and the only thing they can see in front of them. Meanwhile, there are people all around us who have lost everything, or who never had much of anything to begin with. It seems as if those who are privileged cannot see that.
But in fact it’s not an inability to see — it’s a lack of compassion. This is not at all unusual, so there’s nothing there to condemn or judge. This lack is the usual state for most beings.
It’s strange to realize that compassion has to be built up like muscles. But as my weak and flaccid “muscles” start to gain a little tone and strength, I appreciate just how weak they were to begin with.
As this process goes on, it becomes more difficult, in some ways, to stay in the middle. I catch myself making new judgments and comparisons. (Thankfully I do catch myself doing it, at least some of the time.) The changes in one’s own self keep shifting the center of balance. That is part of this path that I never expected.