When you reflected on whether human nature is
loving or aggressive, did you acknowledge our
capacity for both?
Along with empathy and love, what
emotions do you have to work with when trying
to live with ethical compassion?
Where there is consciousness, hatred,
ignorance, and violence do indeed arise naturally. This is why,
although our nature is basically disposed toward kindness and
compassion, we are all capable of cruelty and hatred. It is why we have
to struggle to better our conduct. To say that basic human nature
is not only non-violent but actually disposed toward love and
compassion, kindness, gentleness, affection, creation, and
so on does, of course, imply a general principle which must,
by definition, be applicable to each individual
If human nature is nonviolent, how do we explain
Stalins, Hitlers, tyrants, and the many despots
in our world? How do we explain those who kill
and torture indiscriminately?
The Dalai Lama suggests that we recognize that
such people are the result of particular causes
and conditions, particular personalities within
a particular society at a particular time and in
a particular place. and these causes and conditions
allow the basic impulse toward care and affection
for others to be submerged.
Vision properly motivated can lead to wonders; when vision is
divorced from basic human feeling, the negative potential cannot
In order to cultivate compassion, we need to restrain
those factors — destructive emotions — which inhibit
compassion. You will learn about this process in Module 2.
Afflictive emotions — ours and others'
How might understanding your own destructive emotions
help in developing compassion for others who suffer
from their own afflictive emotions?