Compassionate action = compassionate disposition?

Suppose a doctor is treating a patient competently, but with the sole motive of earning money. Though the activity is compassionate, the mood isn’t compassionate. 

A similar mismatch in our action and our motivation can occur when we try to share spiritual wisdom with others. Based on Gita wisdom, we may know theoretically that everyone in the world is a soul forgetful of their spiritual glory and is therefore going through the many temptations and tribulations of material existence. And Krishna declares as most dear those who share the spiritual knowledge that helps souls become reinstated in their spiritual orientation and position (18.68-69). Accordingly, we may share spiritual wisdom with others, thereby doing an activity that is from the spiritual perspective supremely compassionate. 

Still, our consciousness may not automatically be spiritualized; we may well be calculative, worried about how many people attend our talks or like them on Facebook. If we get more recognition than others, we may become proud; if others get more recognition than us, we may feel insecure and inferior. 

Rather than assuming that we are compassionate just because the activity we are doing is compassionate, we need to consciously cultivate the quality of compassion. How? By connecting at a human and personal level with the receivers of spiritual wisdom thereby actually experiencing how our activities are helping them. And by connecting with saintly souls who are actually animated by spiritual compassion in their efforts of spiritual outreach, thereby receiving some of their compassion through that association. And by connecting with Krishna internally so that we become replenished by the one who is the source of all compassion. That inner connection will purify us, thereby freeing from the mentality to compare and energizing us with authentic compassion. 

 

One-sentence summary:

We need to not just do compassionate actions, but also cultivate compassionate disposition. 

 

Think it over:

  • How might we not be compassionate even when our actions are compassionate?
  • State three ways we can cultivate compassion.
  • Which activity infuses you the most with a compassionate spirit?
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