Compassion is a wish-fulfilling jewel that can alleviate all suffering. In Tibetan Buddhism, compassion is the key and central training within their religion. Enlightened Compassion is personified by the deity, Chenrezig, who holds a jewel that grants all wishes to those who possess it. That jewel is compassion. Mahayana Buddhists believe love and compassion can overcome all obstacles, awaken the mind to enlightenment and bring enormous benefit to yourself and others.
Compassion training was the first meditation that I ever practised, where I learnt that I could change my perspective to encourage empathy, equality and compassion to help overcome practically all my disturbing emotions. It sounds like a big claim but that’s exactly what training in compassion does. You have to actually give it a go to see for yourself how it works but essentially it’s impossible for anger, hatred, jealousy and selfishness to exist in the company of genuine love and compassion. In fact, it’s hard to imagine people going to war against one another if there is love and compassion present between them. Love and compassion have the potential to bring about harmony and understanding between all the people of the world.
There is a guide to living a compassionate and enlightened life from an 11th Century Tibetan Buddhist monk, Langri Thangpa, called 8 Verses for Training the Heart Mind. It’s from the Mahayana tradition, where they place a very high value in training in love and compassion; claiming it’s absolutely necessary to achieve full enlightenment.
All the suffering in the world comes from selfishness, all the happiness in the world comes from compassion. ~ Shantideva
Practising the eight verses brings enormous benefit to yourself and others. Research has shown your own happiness is increased by practising love and compassion. In fact, love and compassion are not just good for happiness, they also have a positive impact on health as well, reducing blood pressure and boosting the immune system. But it is not always easy. It is a radical departure from our usual selfish ways of behaviour; instead the training embodies a compassionate way of being; cherishing others more than ourselves, with the goal of alleviating suffering from the entire world.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. ~ Dalai Lama
Below is one of the most powerful methods for training the mind/heart to shift your perspective out of the selfish ego and into the open spaces of love and compassion.
Eight Verses For Training The Heart Mind
by Geshe Langri Thangpa
1. By thinking of all sentient beings
As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel
For accomplishing the highest aim,
I will always hold them dear.
2. Whenever I’m in the company of others,
I will regard myself as the lowest among all,
And from the depths of my heart
Cherish others as supreme.
3. In my every action, I will watch my mind,
And the moment destructive emotions arise,
I will confront them strongly and avert them,
Since they will hurt both me and others.
4. Whenever I see ill-natured beings,
Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,
I will cherish them as something rare,
As though I’d found a priceless treasure.
5. Whenever someone out of envy
Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
I will take defeat upon myself,
And give the victory to others.
6. Even when someone I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes
Mistreats me very unjustly,
I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.
7. In brief, directly or indirectly,
I will offer help and happiness to all others,
And secretly take upon myself
All their hurt and suffering.
8. I will learn to keep all these practices
Untainted by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.
May I recognize all things as like illusions,
And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.
Have these eight verses inspired you? Have you tried them for yourself? What did you notice? As always, we would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.