Generate great compassion, and you become a friend to the world. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This is a quote that is interesting to me, as the person who said it, lives it. He spends a great deal of his time being compassionate, and also spends time inspiring others to be compassionate.
These actions have made for him plenty of friends, all around the world. That makes the quote complete, as his work had made him one of the most recognized faces on the planet, and made him appreciated, if not revered, even among those who follow other religions (or none at all).
By being nice to others, by helping others, we not only make specific friends, we begin to be known for our compassion. As more people know this about us, and recognise us for this. In this manner, we become friends not just to a person here, and another person there, but to everyone, and eventually, to the world.
Why is compassion important?
I consider this to truly be leadership by example, and an example I try to follow. The Dalai Lama is the head of a portion of Buddhism, but the same general theme is echoed through many other branches of Buddhism. It also shows up in Christianity in the saying “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
This isn’t a post about any religion, but I just wanted to point out that this quote has application in a great number of faithful people in the world. I believe it is just as applicable to those of other faiths, or even those without faith at all.
Compassion is a large part of the glue that holds humanity together. Usually, compassion is used only among our closest friends and family. However, I believe that all of humanity benefits from our compassion, and the more freely we can give it to others, the greater our impact can be. In this way, I believe we become a friend to the whole of humanity, to the whole world.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Compassion is a very broad topic, and there are so many ways to show to others. The question almost seems silly for those who have made an effort to see where compassion can be provided. I hope to help others to better understand what I mean in the remainder of this post.
Yes, there’s the obvious, helping the beggars on the street, the children on the television, the victims of disasters, and the homeless. But what else can be done to help show compassion for others?
There are many ways, depending on your preferences and your abilities. If you have more money than time, nearly every organization which provides assistance is willing to take cash. To some, that may sound a bit mercenary but to a hungry person who gets to eat today because of that donation, I don’t think it matters.
If you have more money than time, the compassion comes from within your heart. That money represents your work, your effort, your sweat, and your sacrifice. While it may not seem like much, the time it took you to earn that money is what you are giving. If given with warmth in your heart, I don’t see how it could be considered anything but compassion.
If you have more time than money, nearly every organization which provides assistance is in need of some extra helpers. While some consider this a more intimate form of compassion (with which I agree), others say it is the only real way to be compassionate (with which I disagree).
But these are only the planned and formal ways of being compassionate. What about those times when an opportunity comes up unexpectedly? Is holding a door open for someone behind you an act of kindness or an act of compassion? What are your definitions?
In any case, if you think about what you can do to help others, you will likely come up with quite a list. If you review your day and look for places you might have been able to show compassion for others, you might more easily find them next time. Know what to look for, and be prepared, right?
Then there are private moments, when there is just you and a friend, or even a stranger. A brave smile, a pleasant “good afternoon” or a thumbs up. How about being the shoulder to cry on when someone is obviously in distress?
Even something as simple as helping someone who is having difficulty doing whatever it may be counts in my book. Does it count in yours?
I hope this gave you some things to think about, and hopefully you will be better prepared to recognize when you can help others and show your compassion. The world needs you, now more than ever, to show your compassion. The world needs a friend.