I believe in compassion. To me, compassion is loving kindness; a quality that arises from recognizing that all human beings are innately similar – bound by the suffering they inevitably experience, and the desire to be happy. Differences like religion, race, gender, and socioeconomic status are secondary to true human nature; they serve to divide and distinguish; provide opportunities for aggression and sources of misunderstanding. Compassion arises when these differences are set aside; a space opens up that might otherwise be clouded by judgment and instead, a sense of connection and empathy develops. These gentle emotions are what lead to a happier state of mind. If what brings humans closer is affection and trust, then let those be the qualities that each one of us embodies in every interaction.
When I was a little girl, the prayer my mother and I would say before bed went like this: “May all beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all beings never be apart from the great evenness of mind, free from passion, aggression, and prejudice.” It is the unconditional nature of this prayer that has been resonating with me recently. When I am calm and thoughtful, the feeling of compassion arises easily and profusely. It is in my everyday actions, and my least calm moments that I struggle most to practice kindness. In the midst of a busy and often stressful time, it takes consciousness and effort to be kind, tame one’s temper, and connect with others. However, the smallest acts of unprovoked kindness often take little effort and have the greatest effect. Imagine a time when someone has been affectionate and kind toward you – do you feel that warmth in your chest like I do? Or how about when it’s been a really terrible day, and you treat someone less than well only to receive a gentle and kind response? It’s that humbling feeling of connection and intimacy, trust and inner happiness that everyone craves and deserves.
I can only strive to be aware, and when I am aware, to be compassionate. Every single person suffers, and when I recognize that, I try to empathize through my own experience of suffering. When I begin to make a habit of slowing down, looking outward, and seeing the vulnerability in others that I harbor within myself, whether it manifests as anger or hurt, I begin to practice compassion. I believe that everyone is innately good, and to cultivate loving kindness every day in a world of difficulty is what might lead us to a more peaceful and happy existence.
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