Compassion is something that we all agree is important. It’s fundamental to all religions and systems of virtue. We all agree that it’s important, but at the same time we so often and clearly fall short of really trying to embody it. When you see someone that needs help and you make excuses not to do it, or when you see someone being harmed and think “they had it coming”…these are examples of falling short in generating compassion.
What is it, really?
Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we are confronted by another being’s suffering and when we feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.
In his book ‘A Fearless Heart’ the former monk and professor Thupten Jinpa says, “Compassion is fundamental to our basic nature as human beings.”
It’s part of who we are. At the core of our being we are good. We are not broken and hopelessly selfish as we sometimes think we are. We are good and compassion is our nature. It can be easy to believe that human beings are bad, that things are awful out there. But I’m here to tell you compassion is our nature. We just have layers of delusion that keep us from embodying that good true nature. We’ve all been kicked in the heart many times and it has made us feel like people are out to get us and vulnerability is a weakness.
We are called to be vulnerable anyway. An open heart is so important to our spiritual journey and opening our hearts is the way to cultivate compassion.
Jinpa goes on to say, “Compassion offers the possibility of responding to suffering with understanding, patience, and kindness, rather than, say, fear and repulsion.”
Compassion is powerful. It can take us all the way to awakening. We just have to open our hearts and be Fearless and Vulnerable.”
Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences.”
I think she’s right.