True Compassion

“True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.” Pema Chödrön

Of course, it is both our natural impulse and extremely helpful to want to help those less fortunate than us. The above quote is not intended to diminish such a desire. Instead, it seeks to help us clarify our motivations and develop awareness of our perceptions of ourselves in relation to others. In general, when we see others suffering our instinct is to help. This instinct arises from our own personal experiences of suffering which allow us to directly relate to the suffering of others. As Pema Chödrön’s wisdom points out, there is a recognition of our kinship. We all know what it’s like to feel hunger, loneliness, sadness, and despair. Through our own experience, we recognize such feelings in the faces of others. It is through our capacity to identify with others that we empathize with their struggles and compassion arises. Obviously, the more we feel connected to those we see struggling, the stronger our compassion will be, giving rise to a greater motivation to take action to help as best we can.

We can, however, fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as superior to others. In doing so, we may still recognize the misfortune of others and have a desire to help. While our desire to help is beneficial, feelings of superiority may inhibit our ability to be truly helpful. When we don’t recognize the inherent value and the equality of others, we can lose the ability to relate to them. Instead of seeing them as others in need of support and inspiration, just as we have needed at times, we may see them as less than us in some way who need our sage advice and direction. In doing so, we may wind up giving them what we assume is best instead of observing and learning how to best support their needs. With the recognition of our shared humanity and kinship, we avoid the delusion of superiority, understanding that all of us can fall upon hard times. This allows for a deep compassion to arise that allows us to attend to the needs of others in ways that honor their dignity.

I invite you to notice when you feel superior to others in some way. Instead of being prideful, see if you can identify with some of the struggles of those who seem less fortunate. Instead of watering the seeds of pride, see if it may be more beneficial to water the seeds of gratitude and compassion. – John Bruna 

MLP Community 1

The above is an excerpt from one of the daily inspirations sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community.

Copyright © 2018 John Bruna. All rights reserved.

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