Only genuine compassion is enough.
Adapted from the writings of the Dalai Lama
“It’s not sufficient, says the Dalai Lama, to simply think that compassion is important. We must transform our thoughts and behavior on a daily basis to cultivate compassion without attachment” What he just said is not an oxymoron and I will try to explain it.
Before we can generate compassion and love, it is important to have a clear understanding of what we understand compassion and love to be.
Compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to such essential things in life as forgiveness, hope, and courage.
In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are the 2 sides of the same coin meaning: “Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering and love is wanting them to have serenity if not at least happiness.”
It is not enough to believe that compassion is important and nice to practice.
Self-centered behavior inhibits our compassion and love to others, and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another.
For true serenity to emerge, we need to cultivate a calm mind, and such peace of mind will arise
only from the practice of a compassionate attitude not only towards others’ living beings but also to ourselves.
How can we develop this attitude? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to believe that compassion is important and nice.
We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior in order to practice compassion.
Unfortunately, many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.
For instance, the love that parents feel for their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate.
Usually, when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, but there is always some sort of attachment behind it.
“Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife—particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other’s deeper character very well—depends more on attachment than genuine love,” says the Dalai Lama.
Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears flawless, when in fact he or she has many faults. In addition, attachment makes us exaggerate small, positive qualities. When this happens, it indicates that our love is motivated more by personal needs than by genuine care for another.
Many marriages last only for a short time because they are lacking compassion; they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation, and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears, so does the relationship.
Compassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion to others is based not on our own needs and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes to overcome suffering to achieve peace and happiness, then, on that basis, we should develop genuine concern for their problem. This is genuine compassion. For a Buddhist practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion for the well-being of self and others, in fact for every living being that we like or dislike through the universe.
Text adapted from the Dalai Lama book “The compassionate life” Thank you.