"Compassion and the Individual" Within Buddhism and Christianity

Topics: Ethics, Virtue, Parable of the Good Samaritan Pages: 3 (1195 words) Published: November 30, 2005
Compassion is perhaps the most valuable and important ethical principle. The dictionary defines compassion as "deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it." Living compassionately means putting the needs and concerns of others ahead of yours. Both Buddhism and Christianity emphasize compassion; this paper will attempt to determine the context in which each ethical system places compassion, and how each system believes the compassionate individual should behave. Buddhism

Buddhism places the utmost value upon compassion. Buddhism teaches the purpose of each individual's life is to experience happiness. All happiness and suffering is either mental or physical; the mental is the most important kind, for it affects us the most. If we are able to develop compassionate behaviour, we will experience more inner peace and happiness, both mentally and physically. The Dalai Lama says that Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. (par. 8) The Dalai Lama presents compassion in a bit of a paradox: it is in the giving of compassion that we actually receive the most inner peace and happiness. By tending to the needs of others and being concerned for their wellbeing, we achieve a sense of tranquility not afforded by any other means.

The Dalai Lama teaches it is possible, indeed imperative, to develop this encompassing attitude of compassion; however, he posits that it can be difficult. "True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason." (par. 31) Despite how the people act, whether they are negative, polite, angry, or spiteful, it is important to act compassionately all the time. The Dalai Lama realizes that this is a difficult place to come to. Let me emphasize that it is within our power, given patience and time, to develop this kind of...
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