Loving compassion is such a wonderful thing, it is beneficial and it can be developed far beyond our present states, yet it is often abused and perverted into its opposite.
One can think how much better one is that anybody else and call it compassion to others. Yet, others are not objects to step on so that we feel better about ourselves, this has nothing to do with compassion. One can weaponize compassion as an insult, saying, “I feel compassion to you”; adding well-wishing words just increases the gap between one’s presented sainthood and the other’s projected negativity. People can be very mean in the name of compassion. In religious communities it is quite common to use big loving words for judging others. One can say: “You have no compassion,” or, “This person is so compassionate,” but we do not really know the minds of others. Compassion is internal. We do not see the motivation of others. We do not know the context from which one’s actions arose. Judging others tells a lot about our own attitude towards them, but little about themselves. When judging others, one acts as if one is a Buddha or Bodhisattva with much higher capacities to see the mind than we, the ordinary beings have at our present stage. What is the point of judging other people’s compassion anyhow? Venting out our tensions by projecting negativity in others? Feeling good about being better than the projected others? Feeding from being perceived as a good person who always talks nicely about others?
Any virtue can be twisted to serve one’s selfish needs. Nice words do not necessarily mean that the person is nice and vice versa. We do not need to advertise our compassion, prayers or any good feature, there is something twisted in this on its own. I strongly believe that our practice should be our private endeavor, not something to advertise or a means to design our religious image on social media. we can be simply human.
At the same time, compassion is a wonderful, wonderful feature to develop. And it’s always at reach. All we need is a person or a situation that annoys us or that we do not like. If we look at our mind at such moment, we can see that our attitude towards the person is not so pristinely pure as we might wish to be. And here it is, our cherished opportunity to develop sincere compassion – genuinely loving attitude towards the person or genuine appreciation to the situation. Do you remember the classical example of compassion about a mother who notices that her only child is in a burning house and rushes there to help her baby. You can feel how much love is in such
compassion. There is no judgmentalness, just sincere heartfelt care towards a fellow being. And this is just the first step. To become a great compassion, we need to develop equanimity to all sentient beings – a stable impartial attitude towards all, without feeling some close, some distant, without attachment to some and aversion to others. Once this is stable and strong, bodhicitta can be developed. Such a beautiful path, isn’t it?
The discrepancy between the beauty of one’s internal development of compassion, hidden from the eyes of others, and the judgmental usage of compassion as a weapon or self-promotion is based on ignorance. Misconceptions and ignorance about the most basic religious terms are quite widespread. It does not matter how long one has practiced, or how many initiations one has or how many famous teachers one knows, without study, misconceptions and ignorance are still there. No matter which topic I contemplate, I always come to this conclusion. One really needs to understand Dharma in order to practice it well.