PILLAR OF THE HEART #2: GRATITUDE, PART THREE
Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering but a compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness. Over the past few thousand years, many religious traditions have developed but all of these traditions carry the same message of love and the purpose of all these traditions is to promote and strengthen the value of love. We know that basic human nature is compassionate, that compassionate concern for others is instinctual, and that we are hardwired to connect and care, but it takes time. We must grow and learn how to be compassionate, how to be caring, how to be human. After all, this is the one thing we possess that opens us up to all other virtues.
But despite how much we think we know about compassion, it’s often misunderstood. Compassion been defined by professions and philosophers as a sense of concern that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved. It’s what connects the feeling of empathy to acts of kindness, generosity, and other expressions of altruistic tendencies. Compassion comes from the Hebrew root word for womb. as it is from our mother’s nurturing that we learn compassion. It is from being nurtured, and in turn nurturing our own children, that we discover the very nature of compassion and compassion is in many ways expanding this maternal instinct that was so pivotal to the survival of our species.