What is Real Compassion?

Do you have real compassion? I had several “ah-ha” moments this week about real compassion. I am not talking about the kind of compassion that we show to the sick and the poor, or those who are hurting. I would assert that many have seen and felt a deep level of compassion for the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

While this type of compassion is important and helps all of us humans connect, I’m talking about a compassion that goes much deeper than this. What about compassion for those that it is easier to turn our backs on, the ones who rob and hurt us. What about compassion for them? I read a story this week in Judith Orloff’s book, Emotional Freedom, that really made me rethink the way I see people and compassion.

A woman had traveled to India to interview the Dalai Lama. While with the Dalai Lama, on the street she witnessed a man viciously beating a dog. When she asked the Dalai Lama about it, he said “Compassion means being sorry for the man as well as the dog.”

What is so profound here, is we not only need to extend compassion to the dog, but also to the man. Why you might ask, as I did when I first heard this story. What emotions must this man be feeling and going through that he would have the capacity to beat the dog in the first place? What deep pain and anger must be boiling and raging inside him, eating away at him, that he only knows to beat an animal. To show that man compassion, that is real compassion, to me.

Is it easy, of course not; the easy answer would be to have compassion just for the dog. It would be to turn our anger and rage towards the man. But what profound changes could you make in this world, if you stopped for just a second and showed compassion for the man too. What impact could you have on that man if you showed him real compassion. What anger and rage could you dissipate if you showed it compassion. Who do you know that you need to start having real compassion for, right now?

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