Chapter 7: Loving-Kindness and Compassion

Generally, every sentient being wishes to be free of suffering and wishes to have harmony, peace, and happiness.

Even those who are ruthless and without convictions want to have peace and happiness. Among the many causes and conditions, bringing loving-kindness and compassion into one’s heart is one of the principal sources for achievement of this goal.

Some people immediately react by thinking that when they undertake loving-kindness and compassion they must sacrifice everything and leave nothing for themselves. Then they say, “But what about me?”

On the contrary, the moment you have sincere loving-kindness and genuine compassion, at that very moment you experience peace and harmony in your mind. This kind of peace and harmony doesn’t require any other source—just that moment of authentic feeling. You don’t have to sacrifice anything except enough space in your mind to hold that precious jewel.

The love and compassion that arise from attachment to someone are limited and may not be genuine. Therefore, consider developing loving-kindness and compassion based on reason, this being the true cause of harmony and peace.

Since every sentient being, from our dearest friend to most bitter enemy, desires to have happiness and to be free from suffering, we strive to equalize our minds on this basis in order to develop loving-kindness and compassion.

Here, Gampopa skillfully employs the technique of developing loving-kindness and compassion toward one’s mother in this life. This practice is designed for the average person for whom the mother is their closest friend, giving them kind and tender treatment for their whole life, or at least for a quarter of their life. This makes a very strong connection. The mother is always thinking of how her child could be the most educated, successful person, and of how she holds her child as dearly as her own eyes or heart.

But those who have some conflict with their parents and have no space in their hearts for them can take another example by looking at whoever is closest in their life—perhaps a friend, brother, sister, or child. Taking this as the method, develop loving-kindness and compassion and permeate all sentient beings with it.

It is obvious that selfish arrogance, jealousy, and anger will not bring any peace and harmony. Instead, they are the very root cause of violence and disharmony for the individual as well as for society.

Self-cherishing is the source of all the undesirable conditions and conflicts that we encounter in samsara.

Cherishing and respecting others is the source of all benefit, happiness, and peace.

Therefore, whether one is a Buddhist or not, there is no choice but to understand and practice loving-kindness and compassion.

There is another reason to practice this. From the day we are born until the day we die, our lives are completely dependent upon support from others, whether at the mundane level or for spiritual development. Without others’ kindness and sharing, we could not survive.

So, investigate this reason carefully and see that there is no choice but to develop loving-kindness and compassion if one wants to have genuine peace and happiness.

Further, the cultivation of this precious quality depends on others. Without other sentient beings, there would be no means to actualize loving-kindness or compassion in our minds. Both the relative and ultimate achievement of all-pervading peace and happiness depend on this altruistic thought. So, we cherish this wish-granting jewel quality and use all the different techniques to actualize it and enhance its progress in our hearts because it is the ground in which to plant and grow the tree of bodhicitta.

Source: Gampopa, Dharma Lord. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings. Translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Edited by Ani K. Trinlay Chodron. Boulder, Colorado: Snow Lion, 1998.