Serving and helping others out of compassion is non-violence in action. - Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This quote defines non-violence in terms of compassion. Non-violence includes a lack of aggression and a lack of ill will. It precludes deliberate actions which harm others or causes them pain and anguish.
Service to others, and helping others would definitely fit those criteria. Doing it out of compassion is the motivation behind the actions. After all, one can do the right thing for all the wrong reasons, right?
By ensuring compassion is the foundation for the actions, the service and assistance to others becomes much more. The quote defines it as non-violence in action.
Whatever else it may be called, I consider it a noble and selfless act. And if you compare those terms to non-violence in action, they also seem to line up fairly well.
Why is taking action from a position of compassion important?
To me, it’s kind of like a forced apology. Someone did something to you. Now they have been caught, and they were forced to apologize to you. How does that feel?
Compare it to someone who didn’t know they caused you pain or anguish. When they found out, they sought you out, and apologized from the bottom of their heart. That feels different, right?
One was an act of compassion, the other was not. I imagine you can figure out which was which, right? Which felt better to the receiver of the apology? I know which I would choose.
Which would do the most for the person apologizing, if they could only get past their hurt, embarrassment, and rage? Only after getting past these emotions could the person give an appropriate apology and begin to heal themselves.
Where can I apply this in my life?
We can always do a little more for others. We can always offer a little more of our services to others. We can always try to generate a little more compassion. We can always try to safely vent the destructive emotions which can lead to violence.
The question is what are we willing to do? How much more effort will we put into serving or helping others? Are you satisfied with what you presently do, or would you like to do more? That, of course, is a personal question, and one on which you might take a few moments to reflect.
If you were going to do more, what would you do? Is there something you enjoy doing? Is there something you are particularly good at doing? I’ve been donating blood for decades. It’s something that is easy to do, and they even come to where I work, so scheduling is easy.
Even something simple like taking an extra few seconds to hold a door open for someone following behind you, or saying hello to a stranger or acquaintance. It may not seem like much, but I imagine you’ve had someone do that for you, and appreciated it.
The point is that even the little things count. Even the little things add up over a lifetime. And that is a good thing to remember. Each little thing improves you, and it improves the person you served or helped. There is no guessing how important your small act might be to the recipient.
No one is perfect. Even the best of us mess up from time to time. The important thing, in my mind, is to keep trying. Even if you have a rough day, even if you stray from non-violence, tomorrow is another day, and you can try again.
And doing these things out of compassion is the icing on the cake. Yes, holding the door open for someone because you feel it’s your duty is one thing. But doing it because you truly want to help them, that is another thing entirely.
I imagine you’ve helped someone at some point, and it wasn’t for the best reasons. How different did it feel from when you were doing the right thing for all the ‘right’ reasons? In one case, you’re going through the motions, in the other you are non-violence in action.
That, in my opinion, is the point of the quote. Not only should we do good things, but we need to try to keep our heart in the right place. In that manner, we can do the most good.
- Balance of Compassion (seymoursolutions.wordpress.com)
- Dalai Lama Preaches Message Of Compassion On U.S. Tour (indianapublicmedia.org)