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Nassim Nicholas ‘Taleb’. One of hottest thinker of world today says, “For the compassionate, sorrow is more easily displaced by another sorrow than by Joy”. He is so true, in the ethics of compassion one must move beyond to a plane of genuine selflessness, which I see as a matter of fostering the qualities of a good heart. I often think of mother as first teacher of compassion, for nine months we are nurtured in our mother’s womb and at the moment of birth we are completely helpless. In this state of absolute vulnerability, our first act as a newborn baby is to suck our mother’s breast. And with her milk we are nurtured and given strength. As a result of this intense need for her in our early development, a disposition toward affection is natural to human being.

The vision of selfless compassion is at the heart of the ethical teachings of the world’s major religions. It has been articulated like this:-

  • In Hinduism scripture, Shiva Mahapurana, one of the great texts states, “There is no other Dharma better than to extend compassion to all beings. Therefore all the people should extend compassion to all creatures” (Rudra Samhita (Chapter 5)
  • In Christianity, Jesus says, “Love your neighbours as yourself”, Jesus is effectively suggesting that the true test of one’s love of God is how much one love one’s fellow human beings.
  • In Quran, it states, “We feed you for God’s sake only, we seek of you neither recompense nor thanks”
  • In Sikhism, in the Adi Granth, it is written, “One who serves and seeks no recompense finds union with the Lord, such a servant alone takes the master’s guidance.

All other faiths and traditions (Daoism, Jainism….), expresses same about Compassion. It is a marvel of human nature, foundation of our well-being and the harmony of our societies. Compassion reduces our fear, boosts our confidence, and brings us inner strength. A compassionate person eyes has the power to even melt the stone hearted person. Here I would like to quote Abhey Kumar “Abhey” couplet:-

मोम कर देती है जो पत्थर – सिफ़त इन्सान को

काश इक दिन हम भी उस चश्मे – हसीं को देखते

What is important is that when pursuing our own self-interest we should be wise selfish and not foolish selfish. Being foolish selfish means pursuing our own interests in a narrow short sighted way. Being wise selfish means taking a broader view and recognizing that our own long-term individual interest lies in the welfare of everyone. Being wise selfish means being Compassionate.

Forgiveness is an essential part of compassionate attitude. To forgive is not the same as to forget! Instead what I suggest that we find a way of dealing with wrongdoing that gives us peace of mind and at the same time keeps us from succumbing to destructive impulses like the desire of revenge. This truth always keep in mind that forgiving others with love has an enormously liberating effect on oneself.

Shyam

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