On this auspicious day of Holi, the Indian Spring festival of colours and love, the 14th and current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso has inspired me to write about compassion. The Dalai Lama has beautifully stated, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
All of us discuss compassion but what does it truly mean? Per Webster Merriam, the full definition of compassion is the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it OR in simple terms a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry or in trouble. In this era of consumption and fear, we have chosen financial and technological progress over humanity. However, there are many people out in the world practicing compassion otherwise we would not be a planet of close to 7 billion. So we should take pride that as a collective group we are practicing some form of compassion.
However, there is more work to be done. As the Benedictine nun, author and speaker Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B succinctly says, “Serving others with love and passion is compassion.” We can easily adapt this principle in our lives. It can be as simple as thinking that the work we do eight hours a day is not a chore or a burden but that we are making a significant contribution to improving the lives of many in terms of technological means, in the health field, in finance and other such areas. Once we consciously acknowledge this phenomena, we will automatically stand up against the ill treatment of others and injustices that we observe. As contributing members of society, you will be a voice for those who do not have a voice or means to be heard. Wouldn’t that feel great?
Why do we just have to extend our compassion towards our fellow humans? Lets elaborate and stretch further. Nature has always practiced compassion towards humans. For example, we might all be sick of the snow in the East Coast of Canada and the US but we easily forget that without that snow we might be victims of drought and water shortages in the summer. Let’s outstretch our compassion to the animals that are endangered, the forests that are being destroyed, our planet that sustains us and this universe where we are nothing but a mere speck of dust when the vastness of it is considered. It is our turn and time to practice compassion to nature, the environment and the many galaxies.
Compassion should not be mistaken with sympathy because in sympathy we just feel and victimize the opposite party. There is no action in sympathy but compassion consciously allows you to relate with the other entity in order to help. To practice compassion, all one has to do is change their mindset. Changing this mindset in turn will allow you to be happy and make others happy. You will see the world differently and it won’t be a pessimistic outlook. This compassion will allow you to see and enjoy the beauty around and beyond you in this world. You will appreciate yourself and others more. If being happy can be this easy to practice, shouldn’t compassion be a necessity for all of us?
So as we quickly approach International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8, 2015 where the theme is “Make it Happen”. Let’s make compassion happen in our sphere and domain of action, interest and knowledge.
Author: Anjali Chudasama