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Compassion is the Highest Value that we can Aspire to

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Humans are social animals, we need each other to survive. Yet, so much of the time, we are pitted against each other, struggling for our very lives. When we try to go it alone in life, we often fail. Our pride refuses to allow us to reach out for help. And yet, we often could succeed more easily with help from others.

When you try to heal your life through personal development, it can often lead you into deeply spiritual realization. As this happens, you begin to realize and remember that we are all interconnected beings. The same life force energy is running through all our veins. We are all beautiful pieces of the tapestry of life.

As we remember these things, we awake to the suffering of others. We see their plights, and we are moved by them. We begin to care about life on a bigger scale, seeing the lives of others as equally important to our own. We know that building a better world begins with the way that we treat others who are less fortunate than ourselves.

No matter how great our own suffering, we can always spare some kindness for others. If it is as small a simple gesture as a smile to a stranger or a hug for a child, we can spare this much. Even if we have nothing tangible to give, we can give the gift of kindness. There is always love to spare.

Loving others begins with loving and nourishing ourselves. We can't pour from an empty cup. We can't love if we have nothing left to give. We may find ourselves suffering from compassion fatigue if we care too much for others and nothing for ourselves.

Finding true compassion is about finding balance. It is a balance between love for ourselves and love for others. Both are equally important. When the scale tips too much in either direction, we can easily find our lives out of balance. Then, we begin to feel badly inside.

If we are being selfish and caring only about our own success, our own good, then we can become self-absorbed and do things to benefit ourselves at the expense of others. We get caught up in the rat race of seeking money, fame and power. When we do this by stepping on others, it can't be a truly lasting success.

On the other hand, if all we do is help others and neglect our own needs, soon we are going to feel bitter and resentful towards the people that we are helping. We need to make sure that our own basic needs are met before we start giving. If all we do is sacrifice, it isn't going to make us or the other people we help happy.

Giving needs to come from a place of kindness and compassion, not a desire to get something back. If we give only when we expect something in return, then we are giving in a selfish way. We are playing tit for tat, and only giving to those who have something to offer us. Our relationships become transactional.

Offering help to others should be given freely. If you can't give without expecting something in return, then you shouldn't offer to help someone at all. It is placing expectations unfairly onto them by giving your help. They may not be able to repay you, and then you will have ruined the relationship.

What is compassion?

Compassion is loving-kindness. It is love that sees into the truth of another person, that sees their soul and their true nature as being the same as yours. It is a love that sees everyone as connected and not separate.

According to Study Buddhism,

In Buddhism, compassion is the wish for others to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. It is based on appreciating other people’s feelings, especially when we’ve gone through the same ordeal. Even if we’ve never experienced what they’re going through, we can put ourselves in their shoes and feel how awful it must be. Imagining how much we'd want to be free of it, we strongly yearn for others to be free as well.

When we feel compassion for others, it is truly seeing our shared humanity, and our shared need to connect with other people. It is loving people from a place of altruism and humility, and giving without an expectation of receiving in return.

The more we open our hearts through compassion, the more truly we can understand the suffering and the plights of others. This allows us to empathize with them, and to wish for their highest good. Compassion allows us to see that the highest good for one person is the highest good for everyone. It allows us to focus on a shared vision of a better world.

Opening our hearts

We can begin to open our hearts through spiritual practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga and prayer. These practices allow us to find stillness. Contained in that stillness is a realization that our true nature is pure, boundless love.

That kind of transcendent love is the life force that runs through all things. It is a love that comes from interconnectedness. It is a love that reminds us that we aren't separate beings at all. We are all pieces of one vast whole. In order for one of us to rise in consciousness, we need to help others rise as well.

You can begin to open your heart today, and a simple way to do this is by practicing the loving-kindness meditation. Through this simple meditation practice, you can extend love to yourself and others.

According to Very Well Mind, you can practice the loving kindness meditation by:

The following is a simple and effective loving kindness meditation technique to try.
Carve out some quiet time for yourself (even a few minutes will work) and sit comfortably. Close your eyes, relax your muscles, and take a few deep breaths.
Imagine yourself experiencing complete physical and emotional wellness and inner peace. Imagine feeling perfect love for yourself, thanking yourself for all that you are, knowing that you are just right—just as you are. Focus on this feeling of inner peace, and imagine that you are breathing out tension and breathing in feelings of love.
Repeat three or four positive, reassuring phrases to yourself. These messages are examples, but you can also create your own:
May I be happy
May I be safe
May I be healthy, peaceful, and strong
May I give and receive appreciation today
Next, bask in feelings of warmth and self-compassion for a few moments. If your attention drifts, gently redirect it back to these feelings of loving kindness. Let these feelings envelop you.
You can choose to either stay with this focus for the duration of your meditation or begin to shift your focus to loved ones in your life. Begin with someone who you are very close to, such as a spouse, a child, a parent, or a best friend. Feel your gratitude and love for them. Stay with that feeling. You may want to repeat the reassuring phrases.

If you prefer to use a guided meditation, you can do that as well. It makes the process flow more easily as you get used to going through the meditation. As you do the meditation practice, you can picture a warm light radiating from your heart, and going out into the world.

Here is a sample loving kindness meditation that you can use to start your own practice at home. It only takes a few minutes a day, and it can help you to begin opening up your heart to compassion.

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