#26: Compassion conquers all

26 July 2010 - 2:57pm Comments Off

Compassion is what drives us to become the highest evolved state of being we possibly can – an enlightened being, a Buddha.

The preceding articles touched on:

  1. Developing a balanced mind which is not subject to bias towards friends, enemies and strangers
  2. Remembering and repaying the kindness of all living beings
  3. Developing affectionate love for all
  4. Practising equalising self and others
  5. Exchanging self with others
  6. Meditating on the three kinds of people we label as our superiors, equal and inferiors

Above are all steps leading to the development of great compassion and altruism. These marvellous qualities are possessed by all enlightened Beings who have developed the mind of enlightenment, Bodhicitta, or the Bodhi mind. This is the mind that wishes to become a Buddha in order to be most effective in helping others.

The great compassion mentioned here is not our ordinary compassion, although there is the common aspect of an inability to bear seeing others suffer. This special kind of compassion is not natural in us ordinary people. Our compassion can only reach a few people – ourselves and those we love, or people we have some close association with.

Even when this compassion arises, it lacks the power to move us to the fullest extent to benefit others. It does not have the power to induce us to take on the burden of freeing beings from suffering. Therefore we need to engage in the practice of Taking and Giving, to stir our hearts to transform ordinary compassion (usually empathy) into great compassion.

All samsaric life is characterised by beings taking what they like from others, and giving things they do not like. We need to reverse this self-cherishing habit which is one of the primary causes for our uncontrolled rebirths and endless suffering.

The reversal is to take on the sufferings of all living beings and to give happiness to all. In this way, we shift the focus from always thinking about our own welfare, to always thinking about others’ welfare. This is a practice to increase one’s compassion; it is NOT a practice to accumulate an intolerable amount of the world’s and livings beings’ ills.

One powerful step in this direction is the practice of offering victory to others and accepting defeat.

This is not about yielding or letting someone win just to please them or to avoid argument. The victory we offer is the victory over our self-cherishing attitudes. It is the virtue that we are practising, such as generosity, ethics and patience, which is powered by love, care and concern for others. Best of all, it is the virtue motivated by Bodhicitta. In relation to this teaching, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche has said that whatever we lose in samsara, we gain in spiritual development.

NEXT: Altruism, the mother of superior intention

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