Dalai Lama on close feelings

Terry Reis Kennedy

We develop close feelings easily—at home, at the job, and at our places of worship.  We feel strong kinship often with strangers.  Yes, by all means, we feel love.  But do we feel compassion?  Not necessarily.

Dalai Lama explains, “With usual love, as long as the other person appears to you as beautiful or good, love remains, but as soon as she appears to you as less beautiful or good, your love completely changes.  Even though someone appears to you as a dear friend and you love her very much, the next morning the situation may completely change.  Even though she is the same person, she feels more like an enemy.  Instead of feeling compassion and love, you now feel hostility.  With genuine love and compassion, another person’s appearance or behavior has no effect on your attitude.”

When I declared my undying love I truly meant it. For awhile the object of my affection felt the same way about me, until he suddenly loved somebody else more and married her.

In shock, I struggled to accept my partner’s change of heart. I tried to act in a compassionate and understanding way.  I could not. According to His Holiness, “Real compassion comes from seeing the other’s suffering.  You feel a sense of responsibility and you want to do something for him. 

There are three types of compassion.  The first is a spontaneous wish for other sentient beings to be free of suffering.

You find their suffering unbearable and you wish to relive them of it.  The second is not just a wish for their well-being, but a real sense of responsibility, a commitment to relieve their suffering and remove them from their undesirable circumstances.  This type of compassion is reinforced by the realization that all sentient beings are impermanent, but because they grasp at the permanence of their identity, they experience confusion and suffering.”

Slowly, by focusing on my spiritual practice, I did begin to see my own selfishness in the matter, holding on to someone who wanted to be free.  I also saw how I was being inconsiderate.  I began to take responsibility for my own life. Soon I realized I was not alone. There are so many others suffering similar rejection.

“A genuine sense of responsibility generates a spontaneous sense of responsibility to work for the benefit of others, encouraging us to take this responsibility upon ourselves,” the Living Buddha teaches.

I helped myself by helping others who were in more pain than me. Before long I felt freer than I ever had. In forgiving the man I had so desperately loved, and praying for his happiness, I had healed myself. I had moved into another level of compassion. “This kind of compassion,” His Holiness says, “is reinforced by the wisdom that although all sentient beings have an interdependent nature and no inherent individual existence, they still grasp at the existence of individual nature.  Compassion accompanied by such an insight is the highest level of compassion.”

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