Sunday, October 29, 2006


In my quest to understand what compassion is, I stumbled upon this web page. One of my challenges is learning to have compassion for the part of me that sometimes doesn't have compassion for myself and others. Here's a quote from the page that I like:

Compassion is really just the opening our hearts to suffering without allowing our judgments to get in the way. If someone is suffering and we judge them, this closes our hearts and fills our mind with harsh opinions. Compassion does not mean we do not see the mistakes others make; it means we have sympathy and understanding for their difficulties, knowing we are not really different from them. We are all born and live in this human realm in which ignorance and delusion strongly influences our lives.

When I see myself making a mistake, I need to take refuge in the Dharma and do whatever action will result in good rather than more suffering. It is easy to get stuck dwelling on our unenlightened actions of the past. The absurdity of this is that we can easily stay stuck, dwelling on wrong actions while losing awareness of what the right action should be in the present situation. Faith in Buddhism is having faith in the fact that although the stream of karma that has brought us to this present moment has both good and bad within it, all we need to do is what is good in the deepest sense in the present situation. Just doing this is enough, moment by moment, day by day, year by year, life by life, to bring ourselves and all sentient beings to Buddhahood.

Key to attaining this perspective is to see all our wrong actions -- everyone's wrong actions -- as just normal karma that needs help. When someone is making a mess of their life or someone else's life, I can choose to get upset and judgmental or realize that their actions are the result of normal and understandable human karma, and then do whatever I can to help. And Buddhist training is just giving the most help we can within the limits of our situation. I always find that it is much easier to be upset with and judgmental about someone else's mistakes when I only focus on their seemingly wrong behavior. Yet if I gain a deeper understanding of the person, I find that the quick condemnation often dissolves, and sympathy and compassion arises.

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