Feeling The Suffering

I am going to be very critical about this to myself and to you. A lot of us will talk about compassion. A lot of us will think about it. A lot of us will try to do things. but we must make sure it is not wishy-washy. This is one of our biggest challenges. I see very kind, very serious people, who talk and think about it, but the solution we find is always a little wishy-washy. I do not mean everybody has to be a bodhisattva. That is not even possible. but at least move into that direction. One must feel something. We should not feel in order to make ourselves suffer more, [we should feel the pain] so that we can find a way to help and protect. If we do not feel it, how can we help? If you do not feel it, how do you know it is suffering? That is the mindfulness of compassion.

Isn’t that strange? Suffering is so much around everywhere. Everyone of us has enough themselves, but everyone would like to play the role of helper, the person who gives the solution rather than acknowledging the actual suffering within us. When you notice that happening, it is the first signal of becoming wishy-washy compassionate: ‘I am here to play the role of the helper; you are the one over there, suffering.’ The moment we have that big division we are never going to know how the other person suffers. He or she may look at you, and say, ‘What do you know about this? Nothing.’ Think about it. Today most of us, preachers, lamas, rimpoches, therapists, everyone of us is looked at as someone who is making it right, the curer. So the first question that arises in my mind is, ‘What do I know about that suffering, about the feeling of that individual?’

Lower realms suffering. I am just talking about human beings. Then go beyond. Look at the animals. They suffer worse than us, for sure. No question. We will enjoy looking at them, ‘Oh, there is a rabbit family, look, and a deer family’, we find them interesting and cute. but try to see it from their point of view. They have to get food, they have to protect themselves from heat, from cold, and then their life is in danger all the time. Then go beyond that and look at the hungry ghosts and at the hot and cold hell realms. Our mind would like to shut that out. We don’t even want to discuss it. We just switch off, because it is too painful to talk about it, too painful to think about it.

Equanimity – equality. Tsongkhapa says that when you think about your own states of suffering and the danger of falling into the lower realms, and you don’t make any mental, physical and emotional move, how can you expect to have compassion for others? Compassion, and bodhimind are absolutely necessary. before we have bodhimind we can have love and compassion to a certain extent, but to have great compassion, the unlimited, unconditional love and compassion, is much harder. Yet that is absolutely necessary to develop the bodhimind. In order to develop love-compassion, we have to recognize the kindness and compassion shown to me by all sentient beings at one time or another, equally.

It is extremely important to develop equanimity. Without that we cannot acknowledge the kindness given to us by all living beings. Without that, we cannot have the commitment of repaying that kindness. Without that, we cannot have love for all living beings. Without such love we cannot have compassion. Without compassion we cannot have commitment and without commitment we cannot have bodhimind. One depends on the other.

~ Gelek Rimpoche, The Four Mindfulnesses, p. 178

Scroll to Top