Cherish compassion not just as a position or an emotion, but as a foundation
Position: Some people contribute to welfare causes because it makes them look good in the eyes of the world. For example, MNCs that exploit natural resources may conduct tree plantation programs to look green in an environment-conscious world.
Emotion: Others participate in welfare work because it makes them feel good about themselves. For example, people who see videos depicting cruelty against animals in slaughterhouses may campaign for vegetarianism.
At one level, anyone doing anything good, whatever the reason for doing it, is good. But at another, deeper level, the good can be the biggest enemy of the best. Looking good or feeling good can take away our impetus to becoming good.
Foundation: Gita wisdom explains that the best way to become good is to become godly. The Bhagavad-gita (12.13) states that compassion for all living beings is the first among the defining qualities of devotees. All living beings – humans, animals and plants – are precious members of the one divine family. Devotion for Krishna is complete only when it includes those whom he loves.
So devotees’ compassion stems from not the social or the emotional level but the spiritual level – from the very essence of who one is and what one is meant to do. And it doesn’t stop with social or emotional contribution; it extends to spiritual contribution, striving to connect others with their greatest well-wisher Krishna, thereby doing eternal good to the complete person.
When compassion is a position, one may give it up when one no longer needs to look good. When compassion is an emotion, one may neglect it when something else makes one feel good. But when compassion is a foundation, being an integral expression of the very purpose of one’s existence, then it lasts forever and makes a lasting impact.
"One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant [… – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.]"