Lesson
9

The Practice of Compassion

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Great compassion

In Tibet this sense of equanimity toward all others is seen as the foundation of a love still greater. Compassion is based on the innate human sense of empathy, and can be developed without limit.  We can extend our compassion to the point where the individual feels so moved by even the subtlest suffering of others that they come to have an overwhelming sense of responsibility towards those others. 

This great compassion, which aspires to free all sentient beings from suffering, is not confined to the level of mere aspiration. It has a dimension of far greater power, which is the sense of commitment or responsibility to personally bring about this objective of fulfilling others' welfare. quotebox

It is important for a practitioner to work for and take upon himself or herself the responsibility of fulfilling this intention. The stronger your cultivation of compassion is, the more committed you will feel to taking this responsibility. quotebox 

Great compassion and ethics

While this "great compassion" is an ideal to inspire us, it is not necessary to attain it to lead an ethically wholesome life.

reflection

Why does the Dalai Lama bring up a level of compassion so difficult to attain?

While great compassion is not a requirement of ethical conduct, the Dalai Lama has found that aspiring to the highest level of compassion powerfully affects our outlook and inspires our intention. Remembering at all times that others — all others — seek to be happy and free from suffering helps us remain vigilant and on guard against selfishness and partiality.