Sep 15, 2011,
Compassion is not an attribute of any one religion. It is a universal principle for happiness and peace. In a world torn by conflict and strife, where violence and not love dictates people's actions, what every person, at every level, of every age needs to learn is the art of nurturing compassion within.
Be it a homemaker fulfilling the many needs of her family, an entrepreneur meeting people and clinching deals for her company, a politician passing bills in the legislature that can change the destiny of millions or a nauto rickshaw driver bargaining for higher rates with her passenger - whoever you may be, you need compassion. Compassion should no more lie in the ideologies of philosophers, or in the lucrative rewards of theologians (in the after-life). The voice of compassion needs to be heard in every household, educational institution, office, business unit, shop, mall and theatre, besides other places and circumstances.
For centuries now we have reserved compassion to be a prerogative of a chosen few, like a Christ or a Buddha. We have also conceptually dismissed the possibility of someone living and embodying such a quality in the hurly-burly of every day life. Is it so difficult to live compassionately? Or are we so incapable that we cannot raise ourselves to those standards?
Compassion begins with empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel for another. They who are sensitive to the motions of life, to the experiences of pain and pleasure are capable of empathy. They who have watched the movements of their thoughts, the burden of unnecessary thinking, and the pain of conflicting thoughts know it well. They, who have paid attention to their emotional upsurges, the unintelligent ways of anger, hurt or hate, the irrationality of fear, feel empathy for another who is going through a similar emotion. Hence, compassion begins with attention to one's own life experiences, be it physical or emotional.
Empathy and compassion thus born would naturally blossom into acts of kindness to reach out to others. Well-being of the other is the highest priority for a compassionate person; hence her actions would reflect tremendous intelligence, fortitude and discretion. It could be a dynamic plunge into action to change the adverse situation of the one who is suffering. It could also be gentle words of love and strength or a heartfelt prayer for Divine help.
Compassion is not the armour of the weak; it is the weapon of the strong. It is irresponsible to think, believe and preach that anger and violence can solve our problems. Problems at micro as well as macro level arise because of lack of understanding and love between people. Problems that are situation-based are very less compared to those that are emotions-based. Situation-based problems need better strategy and skill to solve them but emotion based problems need people who are involved in moving out of those negative emotions that are causing them.
That is why any constructive change can never be effected through anger and violence. Compassion is the answer.
Let us nurture the noble virtue of compassion consciously with dedication. Let us see the faces of people who walk into our world with smiles, tears, affection and wrath. Let us meditate on their feelings to let compassion blossom.
The author is faculty member, One World Academy
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi