Monday, August 18, 2008

Compassion for others

Question: (unedited)
I live in a big city and am faced everyday with the dilemma of having to be compassionate when feeling mistreated by others around me. Sometimes it seems that I am surrounded by mean-spirited people who only wish to release their inner-anger at others. I try to feel compassionate and think "they are in pain and frustrated, and are struggling for happiness", but then I just feel like a doormat for their frustrations. How can I remain compassionate but not feel like a sucker?

My comment:
Compassion is a very tall order. How far can we go, depends on our spiritual qualities and external circumstances. In the real world there will always be those who are suckers. Suckers are born every second seems to be a very true cliché. And most of us have been suckers at one time or another. So it is very natural. We must be careful not to become "good hearted fools". We have to be pragmatic in conducting our worldly affairs. It is easy to deceive ourselves that we can be really compassionate for all and sundry. If we are not up to the standard, so to say, we just cannot be compassionate to all. We simply don't have all the qualities that enable us to behave as such. So the next practical approach to take is to do our best.

We must first of all assess our level of spiritual maturity, and then to practise according to that level. Given time, we may be able to improve ourselves in our spiritual pursuits and hopefully be able to really feel compassionate for more people of all characters. In the meantime we need not have to take on the role of a "perfect" Buddhist.

How we feel is all up to us. Others actually cannot dictate our feelings because it is our minds that decide how we want to feel. As good Buddhists of course, we want to radiate goodwill to all. Having done that we should be feeling refreshed and at peace, instead of feeling like suckers. We know we have done the correct thing, and as with the law of cause and effect, correct results will eventually emerge. If we can consistently keep our cool (which I find it to be very difficult), others will eventually come to respect our good qualities.

As for those opportunists, we will need to be assertive while being compassionate. Such is the realities of life. It is not easy to be good all the time while being surrounded by negative forces. This is the Buddha's revelation that the world is "Dukkha"; it is always very unsatisfactory. Knowing that, what we can do is to try our best and to live with this Dukkha. Hope there is some consolation in my comments. You are not alone. But we can still journey on....


A true Malaysian said...


I really like this comment of yours :-

"If we can consistently keep our cool (which I find it to be very difficult), others will eventually come to respect our good qualities."

I am of the same view as yours.

Justin Choo said...

Happy that you like my comments.

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