“Compassion is our deepest nature. It arises from our interconnection with all things.”
Alan Wallace, a leading Western teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, puts it like this:
“Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, ‘You idiot! What’s wrong with you? Are you blind?’
But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped into you is actually blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: ‘Are you hurt? Can I help you up?‘
Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion.”
Compassion is the quivering of the heart in the face of pain. It is the capacity to see our struggles with kindly eyes. The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to the world. With compassion we come to trust our capacity to open to life without armoring.
Jack Kornfield says: “Yes, the world is full of pain, uncertainty, and injustice. But in this vulnerable human life, every loss is an opportunity either to shut out the world or to stand up with dignity and let the heart respond.”
This excerpt from The Wise Heart was graciously reprinted with permission by the author Jack Kornfield.