Sunday, 11 March 2012

Compassion - How can it be cultivated ?

Compassion is one of the characteristics that is unique to us homo sapiens, yet we don't exhibit it all that often. In my opinion, compassion is the hallmark of a good human, a good leader. In many of my earlier posts I have dwelt on empathy and genuine interest, which underpins effective communication, influence and all those other traits of an effective person. But compassion is fundamental to empathy and genuine interest. Not surprisingly, Hindu scriptures place compassion right at the center of spirituality. How compassionate are we? And are there a set of people with whom we are compassionate and those with whom we are not? Do prejudices play their part? Can we cultivate compassion that is bereft of prejudice and ulterior motive. The answer is an emphatic YES.
 Indian scriptures and Bodhisattva lay emphasis on the cycle of births. We are believed to be going through a cycle of rebirths based on our Karmic actions (negative and positive) in our past births. The more good we do in this birth, the better fortunate would we be in our next birth. In each birth, we need to perform good actions, for the benefit of others without any expectation for oneself. In this whole churn of cycles of birth and rebirth, the ones who are our friends, our parents in this birth, might have been our foes in our past birth. And those who are our foes in this birth might have been our near and dear ones, our well wishers in the past births. So then, would it be prudent to be compassionate with our near and dear ones in this birth and disregard or ill-treat our so called foes?
 Even if you were to ignore the cycle of births, have you ever returned a bad deed with compassion? When someone is bent upon spoiling your professional progress for example, instead of confronting that person head-on, have you tried to be compassionate with that person? Have you tried to analyze why this person might want to thwart your progress, and how you can help this person? If you were to reach out to this person, and probably help with this person's progress, would you not end up winning another friend instead of a foe? Would not this person hold you in high regard and consider you a leader as opposed to an adversary? Organizations are always in need of this kind of a leader. And even in your personal life, instead of returning a bad deed with another one, if you were to return with a good deed out of compassion, you would have more friends rather than foes, and that in itself would go a long way in restoring peace and sanity in our life.

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