I think we are all at times confused about the essence of compassion because we think it’s just for others and not ourselves. So I have dug up some older writings I have on compassion. These are ideas, and I encourage you to form your own theories around them, through pushing the limits of your understanding. We can’t keep intellectual ideas on a page, we have to take them for a drive, see how they feel for us, and find our truth within them. There is no ‘perfect right answer’ as there is no ‘wrong answer’. Don’t take anything anyone says as gospel without trying it out for yourself.
So, onto compassion! I’m confident we would all like it applied to us, and I hope we are all dedicated in being compassionate to others, but honestly, how do we go about it in today’s modern over hyped world? Compassion is far more than a hashtag and some ancient concept that we apply 1% of our time to. Can we even be compassionate if we don’t understand the true essence of it? The Dalai Lama says that compassion is one of the key sources of happiness, and that the more compassionate our mind is, the better our brain functions. He also speaks of compassion giving us an inner strength, self confidence and a reduction in fear. These then, increase our happiness. Sounds good yes?
Something that frequently comes up with compassion though is that it’s all about being a nice person. Sure, that’s part of it, however most Buddhist teachers say practising compassion and being a nice person are in fact two different things. Let’s take into account the advice of Chogyam Trunpa, a great Tibetan Rinpoche, who frequently highlighted we shouldn’t have ‘idiot compassion’. Which he describes as having the right intention, with the concept of ‘being good’ or ‘being nice’ becoming a road to pain through not having any boundaries, avoiding conflict and letting people walk all over us. He speaks of ‘idiot compassion’ as lacking in courage and intelligence. True compassion as he describes it, is not shying away from discomfort or pain, but working with it. One of Chogyam Tungpa’s more well known students, Pema Chodron says of idiot compassion, “It refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s whats called enabling. It’s the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering. Basically, you’re not giving them what they need. You’re trying to get away from your feeling of I can’t bear to see them suffering. In other words, you’re doing it for yourself. You’re not really doing it for them.” Clearly, we can see this is not true compassion, but a trap we all fall easily into, especially when telling ourselves we’re just trying to be compassionate!
I’ll continue this theme tomorrow.
Sent with love,