It’s true that in specific circumstances where you have the ability to alleviate the suffering of another person or to protect another person from suffering, there is, in that sense, an inequality. One person has a capacity that the other person does not. But there is no such sense of inequality, no feeling of superiority, in the actual mode in which compassion views the other sentient being. . . . The other being for whom I feel compassion is just like me. That person wants happiness just like me and has every right to be happy and to overcome suffering just like me, whether that person is close to me or not. . . . That type of compassion is based on the equality of self and others. There’s no room there for feeling superior.
Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Psychology, Meditation, and the Mind-Body Connection by the Dalai Lama, edited by Daniel Goleman © 1997 by the Mind and Life Institute. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications.
Start your day with a fresh perspective
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.