It is important to watch our mind, to watch our thoughts, to watch what happens around us. This is constant awareness and it is indeed the start of compassion.
The Buddhists say compassion is the essence of Nirvana. I believe there is only one Self manifesting as you and I; if I serve you and others, I serve myself; if I hurt you, or if I hurt others, I hurt myself.
It is important to watch our mind, to watch our thoughts, to watch what happens around us. This is constant awareness and it is indeed the start of compassion. The virtue of compassion to all living beings is central to all faiths of the earth.
In the early days of establishing the Belur Math, Swami Vivekananda’s co-monks expressed their displeasure about the dictum of serving the poor as one of the main activities of the Mission. Swamiji was annoyed and, as he prepared to leave the Math, he spoke about Sri Ramakrishna’s pilgrimage to Deogarh.
The town of Deogarh was undergoing a severe famine and the people were dying from hunger. Sri Ramakrishna, seeing the plight of the villagers, was deeply anguished and refused to leave until a supply of rations was organised for their survival. Sri Ramakrishna ate only after the villagers were fed.
Hearing this story, the fellow monks immediately apologised and requested Swami Vivekananda to take up the leadership of Belur.
Religions may differ on their intrinsic philosophy but all religions profess the same message — a human being should become compassionate, kind and loving. The prayer of a Muslim mentions two words, Rahim and Rahman; thus there is a definite mention of compassion and mercy. If all humans could demonstrate these two qualities to everyone else, there is no greater way to get closer to God and to Manav Ekta.
There is this story about Prophet Muhammad, who was leaving to offer prayers on Ramadan day. The place he was at was a little far away from the mosque he frequented and he was getting late.
It is usual for followers of Islam to buy good clothes for children on this auspicious occasion. On the way to the mosque, the Prophet found an orphan child wearing tattered clothes. He asked the child if he had any new clothes for the occasion. Understanding his plight, he took the child with him, bought new clothes, had them stitched for him and made him happy.
All the while, his followers were reminding him that he was getting late for the prayers. The Prophet gently reminded his followers that what he did for the child in itself is the greatest prayer and, even if his prayer gets a little late, it is not of greater importance than this act of compassion.
Hundred years ago, Sree Narayana Guru, sadhu and social reformer from Kerala, said, “Whatever be the religion, man should develop goodness.” While extending one’s compassion unto others, forget not oneself because, more often than not, we are more unkind to our own selves than to anyone else.
Compassion brings us all together and, let me remind you, its practice involves a reflective attitude: do to others what you would have them do to you.
Sri M - spiritual guide and social reformer - is leading the Walk of Hope, a padayatra for peace, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The padayatra will be in Bengaluru from April 1 to 5. Details: www.walkofhope.in