In this week’s online retreat teaching, Cultivating Compassion, Segyu Rinpoche discusses the development of compassion and warns of the harmful pitfalls that often stem from our desire to help others.

Rinpoche outlines compassion in three steps: motivation, action, and skillful means. Though empathy and the motivation to ease others’ suffering are essential aspects of the bodhisattva path, Rinpoche warns us not to let our intentions become contaminated with our own agendas or judgements, as this will lead to harmful action and further distress. Compassion, he explains, grows first from self-compassion—an inner tenderheartedness toward one’s own flaws and hardships. This relationship with oneself creates a fertile basis for assisting others in a skillful way, since we are no longer coming from a place of criticism.

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