about Compassion

The english word compassion is not always easy to understand. The greek agapei is always translated as love, but so is eros. Agapei seems to be more like compassion than love so I asked a couple of questions about this to the Teacher and got these replies:

Q: Is unconditional love the same as compassion? Or is it a consequence from it.

A: Yes compassion is unconditional but you will find love translated slightly different. Love is a wish for the well being of others, whereas compassion is a wish to overcome sufferings of others. Both genuine love and compassion are pure and unconditional because there are no selfish motives polluting them. You simply want others to be happy and to overcome their sufferings once you come to realize that, like you, they want happiness and don’t want suffering.
Actually the sense of finding your daughter’s suffering(*) unbearable, intensifies the more you love her. (here the word love refers to as jampa in Tibetan which is as we spoke earlier to wish others to be happy). So, it is important to practice love before compassion instead of the other way round.

Q: If anger and passion are two faces of the same red coin, are peace and compassion the other side?

A: If thinking of our own suffering can make us anxious and worry, how it can be possible for Buddhas to stay calm when they think of everyone’s suffering? Strange as it may sound, psychologically it is possible.
We become frustrated and depressed when we see bad luck fall on us, and we find no way out. But even when something bad has happened to us, as soon as we know the way out, we become more resilient and more intelligent. This is the case in Buddhas and bodhisattvas, because they know the way out. Thus the more suffering they see of the world, the more resilient they become.
But not only that; when we see the suffering of others with a genuine concern, our ego will succumb to it. (the ego being very small, it can not contain everything in it – that’s why it has to burst when you put in something huge) With no ego to capture your mind, you become free of all sorts of doubt, fear and so on. The greater your understanding grows, the stronger your guts will become. That’s why Buddhas and bodhisattvas are brave and fearless.
So the answer is yes peace and compassion go hand in hand.


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