“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein
“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.” Mohandas Gandhi
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” both by the 14th Dalai Lama
“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.” Lao Tzu
I started this post about compassion with the quotes, to show it doesn’t matter which path you are following, we all need to show compassion to other beings. The opposite may hold true, as various research studies have shown that adult violent offenders, have a higher rate of having inflicted unnecessary pain on animals, during their youth. These studies don’t include such activities as toddlers or young children, pulling the cat or dogs tail.
The next time you decide to respond to a beggar on the street, instead of just tossing a coin into their hat or cup, take 10 or 15 minutes and talk to them, perhaps offer to buy them a meal, even if it is from a street vendor or fast food establishment. One of the most common statements, I have heard from the formerly homeless, I talked to who moved into a social housing project, I used to manage, was the lack of meaningful contact they experienced while homeless. Watch how many people will avoid eye contact with a beggar, and some will cross the street to the other sidewalk to avoid them. Some of these beggars are, people who have mental health issues, that need caution in approaching, yet others are peaceful, and lonely.
Compassion can extend to helping your neighbor who is feeling sick, by dropping off a meal they can heat and eat. In winter, where snow falls, shovel the sidewalk for a senior, hold the door open for others, and many more ways to make others lives a little less painful.