“Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed.” The Buddha
Compassion, a key principle of Buddhism, is epitomised truly by the life of Shakyamuni or Gautama Buddha. We all know that he renounced his princely status and embarked on a spiritual quest to understand how human suffering could be overcome. After his awakening, Shakyamuni travelled widely and shared his enlightened wisdom, promoted peace and taught people how to unleash the great potential of their lives. Buddha treaded the path of compassion and validated the power of true love and compassion for all.
In today’s materialistic world, personal gains and interests abound the minds of all. To continue to believe in others and encourage their innate goodness and potential is compassion. Even a small gesture of compassion requires courage. The same courage that was shown by the Buddha when he encountered Angulimal who had murdered numerous people and had vowed to kill one thousand men. Angulimal was astonished to see a fearless man like Buddha. Lord Buddha’s compassion brought about a positive change in Angulimal and he became a disciple of Buddha.
In Buddhism, compassion is to relieve the sufferings of others, the desire not to harm those around us whether sentient or in-sentient beings and give them joy. Genuine compassion is about empowering others and is demonstrated by helping them realize their inner potential. It is the genuine effort to enable them to realize the power they have within them rather than providing a ready-made solution to all their problems. A genuine feeling of compassion helps others unlock their inner strength and courage in order to help them challenge their difficulties.
Compassion can also form the base for the transformation of society as it is closely connected to the concept of equality. It is showing empathy towards the sufferings and problems of others; thinking the problems as one’s own and then helping those suffering overcome their problems. By practicing the way of the Buddha, that is, by not turning our back on the distressed, we can help them regain their sense of poise. The feeling of redeeming their dignity empowers the individuals and brings joy to them and satisfaction to those who are helping them. The trials and tribulations of others become our own and we develop the courage to face the challenges that our life throws at us. Thus, by safeguarding the dignity of others and ourselves through compassion, individuals are empowered and a more inclusive society with fewer inequalities can be created.
Text by Shalvi Dutta