Sunday, April 09, 2006

Developing Compassion

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“A classic procedure in Buddhism for cultivating compassion is to develop a way of viewing others as if each sentient being is your own mother. To verify by means of cogent reasoning that every sentient being has, in fact, actually been your mother in some life in the infinite past is a difficult task. But that's not the primary reason for viewing all sentient beings as your mother. Why do it? Because viewing an individual as your mother brings forth a sense of fondness, cherishing, gentleness, affection, and gratitude. When you recognize why you should do it, then even if you're not absolutely sure that every single sentient being has actually been your mother, seeing the purpose and anticipating the benefit, you can make the attempt.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

It doesn't matter much where we are in our lives, all of us could be more compassionate toward others – and with ourselves. It makes us feel better emotionally to be compassionate, and it's not just something we feel at random – it's brain chemistry. Feeling authentic compassion changes the balance of neurochemicals in a way that makes us feel better.

If we do it often enough, we create new patterns of neurons that become hard-wired – permanent. We can literally make ourselves more compassionate human beings.

Here's the really cool part: When I am compassionate toward you, you might be more compassionate with someone else. In turn, that person might be more compassionate with someone else we will never know. It can become a chain reaction.

Start with yourself and work outward. Let's change the world.

[cross-posted at Zaadz]

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