Compassion is the great and intelligent love that goes beyond romantic love
that is not always intelligent. Without empathy, there can be no compassion.
Compassion is a whole system of skills and understanding learned and practiced,
that manifests a high attainment of the human mind. Compassion is the sustained
intention to seek the good of others and is characterized by empathy, patience,
tolerance, understanding and gentle concern.
The Dalai Lama states that the pursuit of spiritual goals and ultimate
liberation from suffering and evil requires the intention to be of service to
others. Selfish goals and methods alone are not sufficient and inevitably lead
to unhappiness. He teaches that each person can work with his or her own mind to
develop a higher consciousness, characterized by compassion and ethical conduct.
Roles are seen as interchangeable; ones man’s enemy is another man’s friend.
The sense of reciprocal altruism is elevated to a high ethical principle in the
form: Hold the interests and well-being of others as you would want others to
value you and your interests. Both good and bad deeds are recognized as karmic
agents that continue to act in a sequence of causation that continues for a long
time. The Dalai Lama’s prescription is the cultivation of compassion - a
dedicated process that involves meditation to tame your own mind. You practice
understanding and valuing the experience of others.
Meditation is a generic term that specifies the study of your own mind but
takes on numerous forms. You can meditate on fundamental truths: on the fact
that all beings are impermanent and will suffer sickness and death. You observe
fellow sentient beings who are experiencing confusion, loss, sickness, pain and
despair and you meditate on the fact that you too have had or will have similar
experiences. While compassion is the great love of existence and all its
manifestations, it is necessary to choose constructive means and reject
destructive means. Compassion is neither blind nor stupid.
The idea that all humans are innately good, but need education, self-scrutiny
and practice appeals the idealistic side of our mind. Innate goodness could be
considered a desirable hypothesis that is tested in practice. However, bad
people do exist and must be constrained by effective but humane methods.
While compassion is the acceptance of other humans who are different and may
be unkind or cruel, harmful behaviors are not acceptable and must always be
opposed. While a compassionate person wishes no harm and vows not to kill other
sentient beings, the protection of good humans sometimes requires that
destructive and cruel humans are killed with regret.