A sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
It is easy to be compassionate towards the sufferings of our love ones. We immediately want to do something to help them.
In Buddhist stories, the bodhisattva willingly donate their flesh and life to help other beings. We heard stories about a rabbit who jumped into a fire to feed a man or a man who cut out a piece of his flesh to feed a hungry tigress.
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN REALLY DO THAT?
I definitely cannot do it. Not even for family and friends.
So how do we practice compassion?
As usual, we can start small. We try our best to help others. It requires practice.
Starting from home and work, we can try to help those that we know and love. (In our own little way, with our little sacrifices)
However, there are more to the practice of compassion than rendering help.
Compassion is also a state of mental development. It is a state of sympathetic concern for the well beings of others.
Not only do we try to help others in their mundane affairs, Buddhist also try to look beyond the mundane.
People who are materially better off than us also suffers. As long as one is inflicted by aversion, craving and ignorance; suffering is bound to arise. Even millionaires and powerful people suffers.
From a Buddhist perspective, we feel compassionate towards others because the suffering of the mind is universal. From the pauper to the rich, everybody has mental sufferings. From the hell beings to the heavenly beings, all sentient beings experience sufferings.
If we look at it objectively, to be enlightened and be freed from suffering simply requires us to give up aversion, attachment and ignorance. However, everyone is still stuck with it. It’s like we know fire burns, but we are uncontrollably attracted to it.
That should elicit a sense of sympathetic compassion towards all beings, right?
In our spiritual practice, we wonder how we can ever help ourselves and others be free from sufferings. How can we help make enlightenment possible.
That kind of sympathetic concern for beings trapped in the suffering of Samsara is compassion.
Therefore, in our daily practice, we also try to cultivate these state of mind towards ourselves and all beings. Such mental state is also the state of a higher being.
May all be well and happy.