One could argue that religion provides this training. At times, yes. Yet, religious lessons often teach compassion laced with division and intolerance. We need better.
She also points to a pitfall of compassion – our hope for specific outcomes. It’s essential, she says, to not be attached to the outcome because it will distort our capacity to be fully present.
Don’t ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
Love and compassion are necessities for survival, and the capacities for both live within each of us. They need only be activated. Without them, we become paralyzed by pity, moral outrage, and fear.
Can you hear and do you care and
Can’t you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.
Recent advances in neuroscience show that cultivating compassion not only allows us to empathize more deeply but also be more resilient in the face of suffering. Compassion, like forgiveness, also enhances our immune system. There is no downside to compassion.
Teaching and practicing compassion is a tall order – sure it is. Dare to dream!
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by
Love and compassion are necessities. They are not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama
Two treats for you this week: listen to Joan Halifax give her TED talk (listen now) and listen to a live version of Teach Your Children Well (listen now). Enjoy!