Seeing others through the eyes of equality, unconditional love, and kindness leads to forgiveness and acceptance, which are components of compassion. We can’t fake this state of open heartedness, but we can develop it over time by adopting new perspectives.
Below are four tips for you to explore on developing a compassionate heart. For a Buddhist perspective and a variety of guided meditations, read Jeffrey Hopkins book on Cultivating Compassion.
But first, a few words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “I believe that compassion, a sense of kindness and warm heartedness toward others is the basic source of all happiness. Therefore, I have no doubt that every individual who attempts to cultivate it contributes to creating a happier, more peaceful world.”
How to Have Compassion for Others
Would you like to keep your heart open even while being mistreated? Do you want to feel forgiveness towards those who have harmed you or others? Would you prefer to accept others as they are rather than judge and condemn them? Do you want to extend loving kindness to everyone you encounter? If so, experiment with the following.
See others as the same as you. One way to develop a compassionate heart is to remember the Buddhist philosophy that everyone wants to be free of pain and suffering and have more happiness. The next time someone makes a mistake, does something inappropriate or triggers an angry response in you, remember that you too have made mistakes, behaved inappropriately and triggered others. Know that we are all doing the best we can in our current circumstances. Remember that everyone else is a human being just like you.
View life through another’s eyes. A twist on the above tip is to step out of your life perspective and into another’s. It’s easy to judge someone else for not making the same choices and living life the way you would. It’s harder to imagine what life might be like for someone who grew up with different family, cultural and societal beliefs. To have compassion for another, imagine what life would be like if you grew up with their beliefs, experiences and circumstances. This will open your eyes and soften your heart.
See the soul in everyone. When we only see a person’s personality and behavior, we can easily jump to conclusions or become reactive. Adopt a higher perspective by seeing the other person as a spiritual being, having a human experience. When we view life through our spiritual eyes we are much more amused, kind and compassionate towards others. We know that everyone has the inner spiritual resources to heal, change and grow.
Practice unconditional love. Many people practice conditional love. They share their joy and kindness until someone misbehaves and then they quickly cover their light with resentment, attack or disapproval. Unconditional love doesn’t keep score, doesn’t play games, and doesn’t shut down for any reason. One way to cultivate this is to practice a loving kindness meditation where you send prayers of happiness to your loved ones, then the people you are neutral about, then the people you dislike. This supports your heart to open, bit by bit, for everyone on the planet.
As you practice these tips you will become more accepting, loving and forgiving towards others and yourself. You will develop a compassionate heart.
Do you have any questions, insights or ideas to share on how to have compassion for others? Please comment below.