Healing through compassion
“The true aim of the cultivation of compassion is to develop the courage to think of others and to do something for them.”
All the major religions place great importance on compassion. Whether it’s the parable of the good samaritan in Christianity, Judaism’s “13 Attributes of Mercy” or the Buddhist teachings of metta and
karuna, empathy for the suffering of others is seen as a special virtue that has the power to change the world. This idea is often articulated by the Dalai Lama, who argues that individual experiences of compassion radiate outward and increase harmony for all.
Compassion is how we can heal our tinctured planet. When we mindfully attend to the person we’re with, or the tree in our front yard, or a squirrel perched on a branch, this living energy becomes an intimate part of who we are.
Compassion is often seen as a distant, altruistic ideal cultivated by saints or as an unrealistic response of the naively kind-hearted. But if we view compassion this way, we lose out on experiencing the transformative potential of one of our most precious but neglected inner resources.
It is true that it is becoming increasingly challenging to preach and practice compassion. When bestselling books and movies all seem to focus on self-indulgence and encourage whining over the petty problems of life, how can we grow into compassionate, selfless human beings? The answer has as many petals as an unfolding lotus flower, and within each petal is a simple truth: Compassion has to be practiced with a spirit of altruism; we should expect nothing in return.
It’s much easier to be selfish. What the world needs the most right now is love. There is so much strife and struggle; love alone can provide a light of sanity and weave order out of chaos.