Partial and non-partial equanimity
Our compassion can arise without any effort, is unconditional, undifferentiated, and universal in scope.
We feel close to people for reasons that are often quite unstable. When:
So ordinary love is quite partial and biased, and it is tainted with attachment — the feeling of controlling someone, or loving someone so that person will love you back.
And a relationship based on that alone is unstable. That kind of partial relationship, based on perceiving and identifying the person as a friend, may lead to a certain emotional attachment and feeling of closeness.
All of a sudden your mental projection changes; the concept of 'my friend' is no longer there. Then you'll find the emotional attachment evaporating, and instead of that feeling of love and concern, you may have a feeling of hatred. So, that kind of love, based on attachment, is unstable and, hence, unreliable.
If a person is close to us or has been kind to us, he or she is a friend. If a person has caused us difficulty or harm, he or she is a foe. Mixed with our fondness for our loved ones are emotions such as attachment and desire that inspire passionate intimacy. Similarly, we view those whom we dislike with negative emotions such as anger or hatred. Consequently, our compassion toward others is limited, partial, prejudicial, and conditioned by whether we feel close to them.
Genuine equanimity is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself. And, just like myself, they have the natural right to fulfill this fundamental aspiration. On the basis of the recognition of this equality and commonality, you develop a sense of affinity and closeness with others. With this as a foundation, you can feel compassion regardless of whether you view the other person as a friend or an enemy. It is based on the other's fundamental rights rather than your own mental projection. Upon this basis, then, you will generate love and compassion. That's genuine compassion.
Recognizing and remembering constantly that everyone aspires to happiness as we do helps us steer clear of partiality and provides a steadier foundation for our relations with others than feeling close to someone. Genuine love and compassion are much more stable, more reliable, than love based on attachment.
While developing genuine compassion for our loved ones is the obvious and appropriate place to start, we need to recognize that, ultimately, there are no grounds for discriminating in their favor. We are all in the same position as a doctor confronted by ten patients suffering the same serious illness.
The goal is not detachment but an equal level of intimacy with all — even-handedness in our attitude toward others.
The equanimity of compassion independent of one's relationship to the other is an ideal difficult to attain. But, as the Dalai Lama says:
I find it one which is profoundly inspiring and helpful.