In our world today compassion seems to be the aspect of emotion that is most well understood. If you search for it, you will find countless books and writings upon the subject. It seems that this topic has fascinated humanity for the past two thousand years. What has compassion evolved into since? Has the concept of compassion evolved, or is it an essential thought, with the same meaning today as it had back during the Roman Empire. It would be wise to first look at its opposite expression; judgment. Judgment causes individuals to evaluate the people in their lives based upon certain criteria, and assign them into categories based upon this evaluation. These categories imply that our lives have different value. Those who are judged less worthy are assigned lives which are less valuable and therefore the suffering caused upon them is less important. Judgment creates selfishness. When we look at the world through judgmental eyes, we naturally assign ourselves a high ranking of value. We value ourselves, so others should as well. If our feeling of self-worth is reinforced by those around us who also live in judgment, we will begin to feel justified in our feelings of superiority. Selfishness arises when you feel that you are separate and somehow more worthy than others around you. Because you are worth more, you deserve to have more.
If our feeling of self-worth is not reinforced by those around us, but we are instead judged consistently to be inferior, we will begin to adopt a feeling of worthlessness. Again, selfishness has an opportunity to enter. Because we no longer feel worthy of our lives, we begin to wallow in self-pity. We no longer attempt to act like a valuable person. We are selfish, because we are now hiding our true self from the world. Instead of pressing forward and attempting to contribute, we hang back on the sidelines, awaiting instructions from our superiors and ceasing to truly live. Or we engage in manipulation to attempt to drag others down with us. Either way, we are selfish because the gift of life we were given has been wasted on self-pity.
Judgment assumes that humans are not born equal, but are in fact all different. Some are born geniuses, others are born morons, some are destined for greatness, others to become criminals. Judgment is a wounded emotion, because it stems from selfishness. Whether you feel that you are worthy or worthless, when you approach the question with judgment you are focused only on the negative aspects of yourself. Whether you are proud of how few you have or horrified with how many, in both scenarios your sight is pointed inwards in a critical way.
Compassion is the opposite expression of emotion. When we live our lives with compassion, we see all around us as our equals. Because they are our equals, we do not expect them to be perfect. Just as we know that we are not perfect. When we approach a situation with compassion, we place ourselves inside the “shoes” of the other and attempt to see things from their perspective. If we have learned anything about their past at all, then their actions are usually completely understandable, if not justifiable. Compassion is realizing that all humans make mistakes. In judgment we assume that every mistake a person makes somehow makes them less valuable. In compassion we understand that every mistake a person makes allows them to learn and therefore makes them stronger. When our friends falter and we live in judgment, we relish in their failures because it has somehow raised our ranking. When our friends falter and we live in compassion, we offer our support and attempt to help our friends learn as much from their mistake as possible. Compassion leads to gratitude. Now that our friends know that we will always be there for them when they screw up, they cannot help but feel compassion towards us when we falter. Now we no longer need to think selfishly about whether or not our mistakes will make us a better or worse person. Now we are able to have confidence that when we make mistakes, we are just like everyone else.
Compassion is cyclical, as is judgment. When we live in judgment, our decisions create judgment, which in turn leads to selfishness and self-pity, which causes us to judge the next decision more harshly. When we extend compassion to others, decisions create a sense of support, which in turn creates gratitude, which allows us to be confident that we will receive support in our decisions. A new cycle.
Judgment is a wounded emotion. We judge because we have been judged. It matters little whether we were judged to be superior or inferior. When we are judged we are forced to become selfish, constantly evaluating the outcome of every decision. Measuring ourselves constantly against others. Even when we feel we are superior to those around us, it is a negative superiority, because it implies others are inferior. There is no balance in judgment, therefore there is no love.
Compassion is a healthy emotion. We extend compassion because we are confident in our ability to make mistakes and still be a good person afterwards. If we can make mistakes and not truly change, then why would others change when they make mistakes? When we live in compassion, even when we feel like we screwed up, we are able to take our mistake and turn it into a lesson. This allows us to grow and become a better person. The more we do this, the more confident we become in our ability to love. Now, instead of judging ourselves, we concentrate on planning our decisions by controlling our emotions, so as not to repeat our mistakes. We introduce balance into our lives, as we assess each success and failure individually. The more we learn through compassion, the less we find that we are making mistakes. Compassion leads to balanced emotions which leads to Love.