Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Engaging Compassion

The theme of the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to Louisville is “Engaging Compassion”. Compassion is an ideal that guides my life. I am an empathetic person. If you have empathy, you understand other people’s feelings. However, understanding other people’s feelings and caring about them are two different things. Compassion is caring about other people’s feelings and doing all you can to reduce their suffering. I will admit that I am no Mother Teresa. I am not actively pursuing opportunities to practice compassion. I believe engaging compassion is being alert to opportunities that allow you to practice it in whatever circumstances present themselves to you in the course of your day. I struggle to understand some people’s lack of compassion and caring. At the bare minimum I would think all people would understand from their own pain and struggles that other people have their own pain and struggles too. Why wouldn’t all of us care about that? All people want to be happy and to have as little suffering as possible in their lives. If a simple act of kindness and compassion on my part can relieve the pain and suffering of a fellow human being, why wouldn’t I want to do that? It is bad enough that there are people in the world who intentionally inflict harm and pain on others. You would think the rest of us would have no problem showing kindness and compassion to everyone we meet. The Dalai Lama says, “If you want to make other people happy, be compassionate. If you want to make yourself happy, be compassionate”.

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