I haven’t had a “Sandbox” discussion lately. A sandbox discussion is where I ask you, the viewer to share your thoughts on varying topics. Today I’d like to get your input on Compassion and if there is a limit to compassion. This has a Buddhist theme so I am specifically looking for views that are on the Buddhist/Taoist path. Everyone is welcome to join in but if you can, let us know your religion with your response.
There are many examples. The person on the street who is begging for money, perhaps they are holding sign stating they have three children and a wife in need. Graciously, you offer them some money in hopes it will get them through their time of trouble and use it to help themselves. You discover days, weeks and maybe months go by and they are still using that corner to beg for money. You begin to wonder if they are really helping themselves or just helping themselves to other peoples money. Is there a point where you stop having compassion for this person? Or does the compassionate mind change? Do we now focus our compassionate mind to get them off the street and focused into making a living for themselves that does not involve begging.
During my life, I have known many people who used a guilt trip to get their own way. As I write this, I am actually at a loss for specific examples! My mom use to say that if I didn’t go to church, she would go to hell. Other examples I have experienced is when someone has a responsibility they need to take care of but they use the excuse that they are sick, tired or busy and ask you to take on that responsibility. I’m all for picking up the slack in these situations but there comes a time when you realize, these people always seem to be sick, tired or busy when it comes to responsibility. Continuing on with guilt trips, I have also known quite a few people who use life’s hardships to guilt other people into feeling sorry for them. When they are first facing the hardship, I feel compassion. But I have witnessed people who have used their hardship to guilt people. It is at this point I feel less compassion for the person. They seem to use their hardship to get attention from people. When I see this my compassion turns into indifference. Should I be shifting my compassion from their hardship to now their need for attention?
We should be compassionate to everyone but is there a place where we draw the line? Or should a line never be drawn, and should we always be compassionate to the human condition, no matter what the condition may be?
Compassion is defined as, “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” True compassion stems from a desire to help others selflessly without expecting a reward and without having to know whether the recipient uses the fruits of our compassion in the way we would choose for them. What stops many people from being compassionate is the fear that their gift won’t be used in the appropriate way. (“If I give that homeless man $20, will he just buy booze with it?”). But if we are able to show true compassion that is fully selfless, we can give that $20 and not be concerned about how the money will be used. For the giver, pure compassion is an end in itself, regardless of the outcome of our largesse.
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