Showing others how they are wrong is not compassion, seeing how they can help themselves become more right is

If we see someone in trouble, we may naturally want to help them. And if they are in trouble because of something that they are doing wrong, we may need to show them how they are wrong. 

Unfortunately, our ego delights in pointing out others’ faults. Even when we are compassionately seeking to help others, our ego sneaks in and impels us to subconsciously enjoy correcting them. 

No one likes to be told that they are wrong. And when someone enjoys correcting them, they strongly dislike it. If they sense that we enjoy such faultfinding, they become so alienated that they can’t take our help properly. Ultimately, it is they who have to help themselves, by using the inputs we give them. If they can’t take our help, we can’t help them. Period. Thus, our disposition sabotages our compassion. 

To prevent such sabotage, we need to change our vision. Instead of seeing what they are doing wrong, we need to see what they are doing right. Thus, we can appreciate that thing and contemplate how they can expand it, thus helping them become more right. Over time, the right will displace the wrong. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (03.26) encourages such a sensitive, affirmative approach when helping others. 

What if people have so many things wrong that we can’t see anything right? Gita wisdom stresses that one thing is always right with everyone: they are eternal parts of the omnipotent divine, Krishna — such precious parts, in fact, that he personally accompanies them in their heart. 

By appreciating that big right thing about them — their divine connection — we can prayerfully seek higher guidance to see their potential and fan it. 

Think it over:

  • How can our disposition sabotage our compassion?
  • When helping others, what approach does the Gita recommend?
  • When people have many faults, how can we see what is right with them?


03.26 So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities.

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Sincerity can show the path to ability; it can’t substitute for ability
Condescension looks down at others while laughing at them; compassion lifts others up while laughing with them
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