When I first started practicing Buddhism I thought I was already the most compassionate person in the world. I was always there for my friends and trying to help any way I could, I thought I had this compassion business locked down.
Then I read something along the lines of “May you have compassion for all beings”. I was like “you want me to what”!? Have compassion for all beings? So what about the people in my past who hurt me, or the people who stole, killed, and hurt others? How am I supposed to be compassionate to them? Shouldn’t I just sit back and let Karma give them what they deserve?
As I started to meditate on compassion to all I started to understand that we are all connected just as I have hurt others and people have shown compassion to me I need to show compassion to others. In fact maybe even more so, if we are all connected and I truly see the Buddha in everyone than I have to practice compassion to all.
One of the ways compassion works in my life is through forgiveness, I learned to show compassion to those who have harmed me by offering them forgiveness and bringing compassion to the situation. This doesn’t mean that I went up to them and said I forgive you but in my own mind I saw things softer and started the internal act of forgiving those who have harmed me. I found freedom in letting go of my attachments to the action that harmed and through forgiving the actor.
Another way I started practicing compassion was through seeing myself in others, I stopped looking at all the ways we were different and started seeing all the ways that we were the same. I wanted to be loved, they wanted to be loved.
There is a story about an old Buddha that was covered in clay so an army didn’t destroy it, one day a monk noticed a part where the clay had chipped off and he saw a shimmer underneath the clay. The monk carefully started uncovering the Buddha to reveal a full perfect golden statue. How often do we do this? We judge on the outside instead of bringing compassion and helping uncover the gold that is in each one of us.
You, me, and everyone else is worthy of compassion.