As I continue on my chosen path of Buddhism, I’m learning that compassion isn’t a one time shot nor is it something anyone expects a practitioner to have from the get-go.  In other words, it’s a quality that one develops and one that everyone CAN develop.

It’s a practice. Just like becoming a world class tennis player, you must practice.

How?  When it’s seemingly so ethereal.  And not something you can feel for someone who has been cruel to you or even just mildly rude.

It’s difficult. For me at this point impossible to actually feel compassion towards people who I feel act in a horrible fashion, not to mention those who attack and harm others.

So – how DOES one develop a heart and mind of compassion?

Buddhists are famous for saying that all sentient beings at one time have been our mother.  All sentient beings?  And for Buddhists this isn’t just human beings, it’s all beings.  Ants, mice, snakes – any being that experiences feelings.  Even if those feelings are instinctive.

As I continue to work with this concept of compassion, I realized that my own mother – who I had plenty of issues with in my day – never stopped loving me.  She loved me unconditionally, although not with idiot compassion.

Idiot compassion deserves it’s own entry.  So more on that later.

Without a mother, none of us would have survived a day after birth.  Human beings need to be cared for and cannot grow on their own.  (A mother, need not be the birth mother or even a woman, but someone who nurtures and feeds the child).

It dawned on me in the early hours this morning, that IF I were able to see all sentient beings as ONCE having been my mother, it would be impossible for me to hate anyone.  Impossible for me to slander anyone.  Absolutely impossible for me to physically harm anyone.

I would be able to see that my very life, depended on this sentient being at one time.

You might say that this concept means you have to believe in reincarnation, rebirth.  Well, definitely Buddhists do believe in the constant ongoing circle of samsara – birth and death, birth and death – endlessly.  Until enlightenment, or as its called – nirvana.

But to me that isn’t the point.

My point is HOW do I develop compassion for every human being?  I’ll tackle snakes, mosquitoes and bobcats later.

Compassion isn’t easy.  It’s really hard and more often comes across as theety-wheaty-new-age-love-everyone goo.

The point is, IF I could imagine that everyone was at one point someone to whom I owed a deep depth of gratitude for having cared for me, I would have to be kinder.

And at the end of the day – that is what I wish to be.  A kinder human being.