Expressing compassion in simple ways ~ 17th Karmapa

With regard to compassion, sometimes when compassion is held within and not expressed, not applied in action, it can become a source of suffering. Having compassion and feeling that you cannot do anything to help can be frustrating. Someone once came to me and said that they had seen a dog who had been hit by a car. The dog was wounded and was lying there and was also being fed upon by some insects. There wasn’t much this person could do for the dog. Even if he removed the insects, those insects would starve to death, so he really felt lacking in any way to implement his compassion and he found it rather depressing.

That being the case, we need to remember that situations that we encounter are not always like that and compassion does not always have to be viewed as something where there is nothing we can do because, in fact, there always is something we can do. If we start small, start with the actual implementation or practice of compassion with small things and in very simple ways, we will, in fact, be emulating the example of great masters of the past, who ensured that whatever they did, even neutral actions, were motivated by the altruistic wish to benefit others so that when great masters of the past went into retreat, with every step they took toward the place of retreat, they thought, “May with this step I bring benefit to beings. May this step benefit beings.” Whenever they tied their belt on at the beginning of the day, they would think, “May my tying on this belt be of benefit to beings.” In that way, if we think that everything we are doing, even if it’s a neutral action that is not directly beneficial to other beings, if we think that it is done for the purpose of benefiting others, while it’s not the case that it immediately produces some kind of fantastic benefit for others, it will be the case that your motivation will accrue and will eventually produce action that will be directly beneficial to many. Without such profound methods, starting from very simple actions and so on, we don’t have any way to implement compassion. So please keep this in mind

17th Karmapa

from the book Compassion NOW!

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