Compassion (Pali: karuna), the second of the four Brahmaviharas (Divine or Supreme states), is the spontaneous response of the heart of metta to suffering it encounters. Etymologically, “com” is “with” and “passion” is “suffering.” We are WITH the suffering, not above it with pity or rejecting it in fear. Compassionate response is based on the dignity, integrity and well being we know belongs to every creature, including ourselves, our feeling of mutual resonance and natural connectedness in the face of the universal experience of loss and pain.
The ground for compassion is practicing sensitivity toward ourselves, giving rise to the power to transform resentment into forgiveness, hatred into friendliness, and fear into love and respect for all beings. Compassion for ourselves allows us to extend warmth, sensitivity and openness to the sorrows around us in a sincere and genuine way, arising from wisdom that the heart has a fearless healing capacity to embrace, touch, and relate to all things, no matter how difficult.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called this the “spiritual warrior’s tender heart of sadness”. He said: “…This sadness doesn’t come from being mistreated. You don’t feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely open, exposed. It is the pure raw heart…. Even if a mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched…. It is this tender heart of a warrior that has the power to heal the world.”
Can you bring that healing tender raw heart to all experience?