I get the feeling sometimes I don’t really feel true compassion until I realise just how much I was lacking in it, if that makes any sense… When I feel it the strongest, it’s almost always guilt driven. It shouldn’t really be like that, should it? It should be natural, not forced. I should feel the need to remove someone else’s sufferings as if it were my own, or at least feel the same measure of sympathy I used to feel for myself if I were having a bad day.
I noticed this most profoundly yesterday after I had met up again with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. They asked how my family were doing, and I gave them an update on things in general at home. One of the topics I brought up was about my sister; and how she has after dropped out of her medicine course and moved over to Hong Kong to work a few months here and there back in April (and get her breath back from the course she more than likely despised). When I told them she somtimes complains of being miserable over there, I probably had a very sceptical attitude. I was saying how ridiculous it was she could ever complain about being away from home. She’s got our relatives to keep her company; surely it can’t be all that bad! And then hearing it from my friends say how she must feel lonely sometimes with no one to talk to (I suppose having no English speakers around you can make you feel alienated) and homesickness made me stop and think. I felt a little ashamed of myself, to have so little thought for my little sister who I won’t see again until late August.
I never stopped to think if maybe she needed me to call her more often on the phone. Even just a phonecall a day must be something she’d look forward to. I can’t believe how negligent I’ve been with this goal. I’ve been focusing on showing compassion to others, and somewhere along the way forgot to show it to the people who mean the most to me.
Have I a bad heart? I feel so selfish sometimes when I think how little I’ve really progressed with this goal.
I took out this book from the library yesterday. It’s called “Universal Compassion” by Geshe Kelseng Gyatso, a perspective of practising love and kindness from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism. I really recommend it to anyone, even if you are solely interested in just being a little bit nicer as a person. It really did open my eyes on how we might be better able to treat people with equanimity and compassion, whether they are friends, enemies or people we don’t know yet. It certainly is going to help me complete this goal, if I can complete it that is!
I’m trying to control my feelings of hurt and resentment right now, but it’s quite hard. It doesn’t help either that I’m already feeling so bloody confused and miserable. I understand that sometimes people (better not go into details this time) will make you feel like that, so I know this is just a passing thing. It’ll go away, so I should try not to feel so bitter right now. Compassion shouldn’t be forced. I’m going to just give myself some breathing space and try and get over it and start again.
Lately I find that I am lacking gratitude, and above all, compassion in my life for others. Never have I really noticed this, nor felt such a strong inclination to be kinder to others in my life, humans, animals and even plants. It’s like I’ve woken up to my worth as a person, and to the worths of those living around me; and how I, if I were in their place, would like to be treated. It goes without saying that everyone wants to be treated with consideration and respect. But I don’t think any of these can exist without compassion first: a feeling of genuine sympathy and concern for people who are not as fortunate as we are.
“One of the emotions most disturbing our mental tranquility is hatred. The antidote is compassion. We should not think of compassion as being only the preserve of the sacred and religious. It is one of our basic human qualities. Human nature is essentially loving and gentle. I do not agree with people who assert that human beings are innately aggressive, despite the apparent prevalence of anger and hatred in the world. From the moment of our birth we required love and affection. This is true of us all, right up to the day we die. Without love we could not survive.”
What is patience without compassion? It seems a little pointless to try a little more forbearance without considering the point behind it all. Kindness is something everyone could do with. This world is cruel and unforgiving as it is. At least I can better somebody’s day by giving them a kind word of encouragement or even a smile.