To Suffer Together
Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as:
– the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related.
Focusing on compassion has two wonderful benefits:
• You bring happiness to others
• You bring happiness to yourself
We all have the potential to live in compassion if we choose. Your choice is what makes a difference.
Doing this so that I and others around me can live a happier life. Everybody wants to live with a happy heart and mind. And we also wish for ourselves and others to have less suffering.
Is the commitment to follow through. ‘I will bring happiness to others.’
Compassion is a lifelong commitment to thinking of others. It can be difficult to start, to keep it consistent. But don’t give up! The more you practice the easier it becomes. Slowly comes a shift to thinking of others first as your heart opens to being more present with those around you.
At Phoenix we have read and discussed a number of texts to develop our practice in compassion. Here are a couple:
Author: HH Dalai Lama
In the Dalai Lama’s own words: ‘It is my hope that the reader of this small book will take away a basic understanding of Buddhism and some of the key methods by which Buddhist practitioners have cultivated compassion and wisdom in their lives. The methods discussed have been taken from three sacred texts of Buddhism. I would like to stress at the outset, however, that one doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to make use of these meditation techniques. Meditation is merely the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation may also be thought of as a technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones. Yet the techniques themselves do not lead to enlightenment or a compassionate and open heart. That is up to you, and the effort and motivation you bring to your spiritual practice.’
Author: Thupten Jinpa
Self-compassion is the overlooked key to achieving our goals. It can lead to increased happiness, stress reduction, a stronger sense of purpose, better health and a longer life. Yet many of us resist compassion, worrying that if we are too compassionate with others we will be taken advantage of and if we are too compassionate with ourselves we won’t achieve our goals in life.
Using the latest science, psychology (from contemporary Western and classical Buddhist sources) as well as stories from others and his own extraordinary life, Jinpa shows us how to train our compassion muscle. His powerful programme, derived from his remarkable course in Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), is the perfect guide to achieving a greater sense of wellbeing.