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Posted Sep 12 2010 12:00am

The 14th Dalai Lama once likened enlightened compassion to caring for the whole world as effortlessly as you care for yourself. He said that if you find you have a thorn in your foot, your hand would not pause and say “I am not the foot; this is not my problem”. Your hand would automatically reach down and remove the thorn.

When we remember that each person is part of the whole and that no one is truly separate from anyone else we then understand and act in a compassionate way to all beings. I am not separate from you. When you hurt, I hurt. I know for many this can be a rather difficult reality to understand, however this is true. It is true, I may not hurt in the same way you hurt, however there is a ripple effect across the universe and one cannot feel, think or do something that does not affect each and every one of us in some manner.

Once we fully understand and accept that we are of one body and not separate than we become more compassionate for like our body and the analogy that the Dalai Lama used, the hand is not separate from the foot, the brain is not detached from the stomach. When one of us hungers it affect each of us. When one of us is abused we are each abused. When one of us is full of joy than each of us benefit from that joy. We are all of one body, we are of one source. We are not separate.

For most the understanding that we are all of one body is a paradigm shift. Most people have been raised in a culture that exalts the individual. We are taught to work as a team this is true, however even within the team concept the team is separated into individuals be calling out and awarding the top performers within the team and calling out and admonishing the low performers.

The ultimate team functions as one, there are no successes or failures of individuals, we win and lose as a team.

As individuals it is easy, too easy to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. When we see all as one we cannot turn a blind eye and say that is not my problem for we understand that all is one and we are part of the all. We are then to seamlessly be compassionate to others and to love each person as though they are our self for when we step back and look each person is us.

There in lies a problem, that is, if we do not love ourselves, if we are not compassionate towards ourselves than how can we be loving and compassionate to others. Even if we treat each other as part of the whole, if we treat our self poorly than we will treat the whole poorly. This is why it is critical to love our self, to be compassionate towards our self for it is only then that we can truly be compassionate to others.

“Compassion, forgiveness, these are the real, ultimate sources of power for peace and success in life”

- Tenzin Gyasto – 14th Dalai Lama

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