Basic human nature is love and happiness. Every individual born in this world seeks love and happiness from the moment of birth and till last breath. And to get love and happiness, developing compassion is an important prerequisite. In compassion, we develop feelings of care, love, welfare and happiness of the other person. And it is the law of nature, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” More you care for the happiness of others and develop love for others in your heart, the more happiness and love is showered by natural forces in your life.
True compassion is therefore a basic human quality that brings happiness for mankind. Compassion is essence of all religions. It is therefore all religions of this world give importance to practicing love, kindness, care, generosity, selflessness and empathy for all.
The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion.
Believers of Buddhism believe that our compassion is our Buddha seed or Buddha nature, our potential to become a Buddha. It is because all living beings possess this seed that they will all eventually become Buddha.
On compassion Dalai Lama said, “According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It’s not passive; it’s not empathy alone, rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and loving kindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is loving kindness).”
Concern for the poor and compassion is a fundamental pillar of Christian identity. Jesus Christ was the most forceful teacher who has ever lived and advocated compassion.
In Bible there are several instances where attitude of compassion has been considered a necessity for human beings.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
1 Peter 3:8 To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
Psalm 111:4 He has made His wonders to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and compassionate.
Galatians 5:22 -23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Hindu religion strongly recommends compassion. It says, practice compassion and conquer cruelty and callousness toward all beings. Hindus believe seeing God in everyone and everything. They are told to be kind to people, animals, plants and environment. Hindus are also told to forgive everyone, foster sympathy for others needs and sufferings. Kindness must reflect in thoughts, words and deeds of every Hindu.
Hindus religious book, Bhagvad Gita has also praised attitude of compassion. Here are some shlokas from Bhagvad Gita.
Adveshtaa Sarva Bhoothaa-naam Maitrah Karuna Yeva Cha
Nirmamo Nirahan-kaaraha Sama Duhkha Sukhah Kshami
Bhagwad Gita Ch. XII, V. 13
Meaning: He who hates no being, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from the feeling of I and mine, even-minded in pain and pleasure and forbearing…
Santushtah Sathatham Yogi Yathaa-thmaa Dhrida Nischayaha
Mayyar-pitah Mano Buddhir Yo Madbhaktah Sa Me Priyaha
Bhagwad Gita Ch. XII, V. 14
Meaning: Ever content, steady in meditation, self controlled and possessed of firm conviction, with mind and intellect fixed on me, such a devotee is dear to me.
Compassion is the most frequently occurring word in the Qu’ran. Each of its 114 chapters, with exception of the 9th begins with the invocation, “In the name of God, The Compassionate, the Merciful. Compassion represents true spirit of Islam. In Holy Qu’ran it is specifically mentioned, Muslims must refrain from a harsh, angry and challenging approach. They must adopt accepting moderate, calm and rational approach. Muslims must be role models for humanity and earn peoples admiration for the morality of Islam and themselves.
All Muslims must embrace the modern, gentle, compassionate, calm and kind style. Allah depicts in The Qu’ran
Here are some quotes from Holy Qu’ran.
“O mankind, we created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous.”
Chapter 49 Verse 13
“God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God love the equitable.” Chapter 60, Verse 8.
“And what will explain to you what the steep path is? It is the freeing of a (slave) from bondage; or the giving of food in a day of famine to an orphan relative, or to a needy in distress. Then will he be of those who believe, enjoin fortitude and encourage kindness and compassion.”
Chapter 90, Verses 12 -17.
Compassion is the main pillar of Jain religion. It is considered as a compassionate religion. Ahimsa or non violence is one of the basic virtues in Jainism. It is not merely human sympathy; it is empathy, the urge to identify oneself completely with other persons, other living beings and with the whole universe.
Lord Mahavira, the last Tirthankara of Jain religion said, “If you kill someone, it is yourself you kill. If you harm someone, it is yourself you harm.”
In Jewish teaching compassion is among the highest of virtues. It is one of the core obligations of humanity. The Hebrew Bible describes God as both compassionate and merciful.
Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism describes compassion or mercy as the most important quality of a Sikh and it must be an integral part of a Sikh’s mindset. All Sikhs must keep compassion at the fore front of their mind and this virtue must accompany them all the time.
These two lines of Guru Granth Sahib can change our attitude,
“Dhaul dharma ka poot;
Santosk thap rakhiya jin soot.” (Stanza 16, Japuji)
This universal message contains two words, compassion (daya) and contentment (santokh). The righteousness is born out of compassion and contentment upholds the order of nature. The implication is, “Be compassionate to others and be satisfied within you.”
Benefits of compassionate behavior:
Compassionate behavior brings in you gentleness, softness, peace, mild behavior and selflessness. Compassion helps you maintaining good physical and mental health. Compassionate people report calmness in their behavior and with compassion in your mind; you are able to control your anger, hatred, selfish behavior, nagging and other fault finding habits. Anger and hatred sap your energy, your beauty and your mental peace. It contributes to several physical and mental diseases. Anger and hatred have always been major causes of destruction.
In case you are feeling depression and anxiety, get rid of your behavior of anger, hatred, jealousy, ego and selfishness. Practice compassion. Develop love, affection, co-operation and caring attitude. Be compassionate. Love others, you will be loved. If you want happiness in your life, give happiness to others.
How to develop compassion:
- If you want to develop compassion in your mind, put yourself in shoes of others, who are undergoing sufferings and pain in their lives. Visit cancer patients ward of a hospital, where terminally ill patients are experiencing sufferings and pain. Contemplate their pain. Consider yourself in their place and experience their feelings. Meditate on this thought till you develop deep compassion for others in your mind.
- Visit an abattoir and see terror on faces of animals being killed by a large knife on their neck. Imagine yourself under that knife. Feel pain and suffering of those animals who cannot speak to anyone. In case, you cannot visit, you can visualize an abattoir and experience conditions of animals and their pain. Keep on meditating till you develop compassion for those animals and for the mankind.
- Arrange a visit to a research center where animals are subjected to several painful situations for developing certain medicines and cosmetics. Experience their pain. If you are unable to visit such center, you can visualize the same. Thus you will be able to develop compassion for those animals and human beings undergoing great agony and trauma.
For practicing compassion, you must develop an attitude of abstaining causing sufferings to others. Even speaking harshly to others, causing them physical or mental harm, robbing of their money or belongings are causes of pain for others. Experience that pain. Visualize their agony. Realizing others sufferings and pain and putting yourself in their place will help you developing empathy for all those sufferings and consequently develop compassion in your heart.
Once you realize necessity of developing compassion, you must develop an attitude of selflessness, helping others, doing good deeds, habit of caring and sharing, developing gratitude and expanding your heart for others.
Compassionate people make society happier and calm and eventually entire human race can develop compassion and thru making this world one of the finest places to live for all.
Quotes for Thoughts
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” ~Mother Teresa
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” ~Lao Tzu
“Wisdom, compassion and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” ~Confucius
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~John Holmes
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia
“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” ~Albert Camus
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~Aesop
“The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” ~Albert Schweitzer
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.” ~ Max Lucado