Compassion (Pali: karuna) is the second of the four Brahmavihara or Boundless States.
Suffering is universal and not foreign to human experience. How we relate and respond is the very essence of our Buddhist mind/heart training. Often we recoil and armor the heart, believing that something has gone terribly wrong, or someone is to blame for this very human experience. Yet, the heart can be trained to respond with compassion, based on mutual resonance and natural connectedness in the face of loss and pain. Compassion is sensitivity, not grounded in pity, repulsion or fear, arising from the heart’s fearless inclusive capacity to recognize universal kinship and belonging, especially in suffering.
Compassion for our own suffering transforms resentment into forgiveness, hatred into friendliness, and fear into kindness for all beings. It mandates that we extend warmth, sensitivity and openness to all sorrows in a truthful and genuine way.
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 we move through the world with that open, exposed, raw heart? Can your tender heart of compassion flutter in the face of universal and individual suffering?