Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Faces of Love: Karuna

Practicing the Immeasurable Mind of Compassion extinguishes all sorrows and anxieties in the hearts of living beings.
--Mahaprajnaparamita Shastra

When you go to the doctor, they do not have to have your disease to relieve your symptoms. This is the heart of karuna.

To have good intentions is important. We see someone suffering and we want to make it go away. We want that person to feel better. We want to do anything we can to put a smile on their face. But as good as our attentions may be, we learned last night in metta that good intentions are not enough. We must go further.

Like metta, karuna involves not only the intent but the ability to relieve the suffering of another. And in order to know what it takes to makes someone feel better, we need to use mindfulness in order to see clearly what it is they need.

When someone is suffering, we must ask them what will make it better if we do not know. And we have to practice this with everyone, including the ones that we don't like. It is important to remember that people we dislike are not bad people, but sick ones. They are suffering from a soul sickness that needs our help to cure.

We must be good listeners. We must not judge. And above all, we must use the tool of mindfulness to open the door to understanding. It is the key to unlock our potential, to know the joy that comes from making someone else happy. Karuna is ours for the taking, if we only reach out and grab it.

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