When asked to write this, I pondered: what value are words about compassion? Especially as everywhere you look in life, actual kindness shows its wonderful face. Like the sun breaking through a cloudy sky, its presence is pervasive and irrepressible.
You see it in a shared smile or joke, a hug or pat on the back, a word of praise, a criticism left unspoken, the tending of the sick or depressed, a bird feeding the demanding young, a chimp grooming its mate and a myriad of other actions of service performed by a multitude of beings.
However, then I remembered words are powerful. They focus our attention on things we may otherwise neglect. Particularly the pure words of Dharma highlight the most important things in life. For example, In The Path to Enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism*, Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden says, “If you were to ask, ‘What is the essence of Lord Buddha’s teachings?’, the answer must be compassion and great compassion, because they are the foundation of all living beings’ happiness and the basis of enlightenment.”
It’s a natural part of all of us. Once our worries and mental agitation are subdued, then this marvellous underlying nature of compassion always shines through.
So, to have a spiritual practice, we cannot neglect this most fundamental part that connects us to all others – our concern for their welfare and our wish to alleviate their suffering. Nurturing compassion is the best thing we can do for others; and it is the only way for us to fulfill our innate potential for lasting peace and enlightenment.
And as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama said: ‘If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion. Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.’
* For more information about Path to Enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism and the eight other Tushita Publications titles by the great scholar and meditator, Venerable Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, click here.
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