Refining our compassion for others

How can we refine our compassion for others in the world so that we can act with more selfless compassion and genuine bodhicitta?

We must understand that whatever goodness we experience -  all of our happiness - is due entirely to the kindness of others. We depend on them for everything. It’s a completely wrong, distorted view to grasp onto an identity and see ourselves (just one person!) as more important than these infinite other sentient beings. This self-grasping is the basis for attachment and aversion, which are the causes of suffering.

Whenever we experience any type of suffering, we must understand that everybody else, whether in this life or in the lower realms, also experiences unimaginable suffering. This will widen your perspective so you don’t concentrate only on yourself.

The real foundation of solid compassion - one that brings about the mind of enlightenment - is the correct understanding of ultimate reality (emptiness): all phenomena are totally empty of inherent existence and everything is interdependent. Understanding how sentient beings bring suffering upon themselves (by not understanding this fundamental reality) will give rise to a very strong, stable compassion that is accompanied by wisdom. My feeling is that without this wisdom, by merely praying and wishing for a compassionate mind and attitude, it will not be genuine.

In order to develop compassion based on the reality of interdependence, we must have a very strong practice of equalizing and exchanging oneself with others. This practice brings about very strong courage: “I, myself alone, am responsible for this.” This leads you beyond merely wishing for bodhicitta and instead actually engaging in bodhicitta with the bodhisattva vows, carrying out the six perfections of generosity, morality and so forth in order to work for sentient beings. This constitutes a genuine compassionate mind from an authentic selfless place.

The best method for achieving genuine compassion is to develop a wisdom that correctly understands ultimate reality (emptiness). If this is difficult, at least educate the mind by equalizing and exchanging oneself with others. This will bring about the courage that will underpin the practice of engaging in bodhicitta.