I am reading one of my new favorite books- “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I am a strong believer in ethics and was delighted when I saw the title in the book store. This book has been even more than I bargained for. It has opened my eyes and helped me understand the urgent need for ethics and compassion in our world.
The part of this book that has really helped me is this- when speaking of compassion, we separate the actions from the person. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “Compassion is directed not toward actions, but toward the actor. Compassion demands that we condemn wrong actions and oppose them with all means necessary, while at the same time forgiving and maintaining an attitude of kindness toward the perpetrators of those actions.”
This helped me greatly. I believe in compassion and work to be compassionate in most circumstances. I really have struggled in certain moments, wondering how I am supposed to offer this person compassion (especially the ones who have hurt me). This simple premise has unlocked the key to compassion in my heart. Now I know in the face of being hurt, I can still send compassion and lovingkindness to the person in front of me regardless of their actions. I can witness their suffering, send silent prayers their way, but not accept the behavior or action. True compassion does not mean being a door mat or suffering silently; it does mean setting boundaries, speaking clearly, knowing people can change, and sending love and kindness to everyone regardless of their actions.