LIVING WITH COMPASSION
Living with compassion does not mean we have to give away all our possessions, take in every homeless person we meet, and fix every difficulty in our extended family and community. Compassion is not co-dependence. It does not mean we lose our self-respect or sacrifice ourself blindly for others.
We mistakenly fear, in the West, that if we become too compassionate, we will be overwhelmed by the suffering of others. But this happens only when our compassion is one-sided. In Buddhism, compassion is a circle that encompasses all beings, including ourselves. It blossoms only when we remember ourselves and others, when the two sides are in harmony.
Compassion is not foolish. It doesn’t just go along with what others want so they don’t feel bad. There is a yes in compassion and there is also a no, said with the same courage of heart.
No to abuse, No to racism, No to violence, personal and worldwide. The no is said not out of hate but out of an unwavering care. Buddhists call this the fierce sword of compassion. It is the powerful No of leaving a destructive family, the agonizing No of allowing an addict to experience the consequences of his actions and so on.
Living with compassion is the most courageous thing you can do.
Martin Luther King Jr. exhorted us, “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. Move with dignity and discipline, using only the instruments of LOVE.”