Full Circle

What does it mean to embrace the ideas of compassion and gratitude? The two are part of one circle. They are not separate. If you are fortunate and don’t have to struggle with a particular aspect of life, then you should be grateful. If you are well-off, you should be grateful. If you’re healthy, comfortable, educated, have a good spouse and family, and are not desperate, again, you should be grateful.

Then what?

You use your largesse to help others. That’s the way to express your gratitude. That’s the way to avoid being an entitled person. That’s the way to rescue others from suffering.

That means to be sensitive to others and to remove obstacles for them is the right form of gratitude. Compassion is not a duty. It’s the only proper reaction to good fortune.

Kindness is the opposite of a transactional view of life.

All too many people want something in return for what they give. They cynically assume that everyone is motivated by self-interest. The entire study of economics is based on such an assumption. But if you look at even “ordinary” human beings (i.e., not openly “spiritual”) that isn’t true. Parents and children will sacrifice for each other. They will lay down their bodies to protect someone they love. That absolutely refutes the view that people do things only out of self-interest.

Kindness is inherent in us. I would argue that it is not an exception to self-interest. I would say that self-interest has been elevated by those who think that materialism is the highest value and should be the key motivation for people. Love is the highest motivation.

Compassion is love. Kindness is love. And love will tell us that we do not abandon others to struggle with their problems by themselves. Compassion turns the circle.

Be at the center.

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