Friday, September 23, 2005


What is compassion? Compassion is the wish that others be free of suffering. It is by means of compassion that we aspire to attain enlightenment. It is compassion that inspires us to engage in the virtuous practices that lead to Buddhahood. We must therefore devote ourselves to developing compassion.

The challenge for all of us who are just starting on this path is to take the first step. In th first step toward a compassionate heart, we must develop our empathy or closeness to others. In a society that is increasingly becoming impersonal through technology, this becmes a major challenge. With cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, voice mail, and the internet, we may never need to be with anyone on a face to face basis.

Buddha says, "we must also recognize the gravity of their misery. the closer we are to a person, the more unbearable we find that person's suffering. The closeness he speaks of is not a physical proximity, nor need it be an emotional one. It is a feeling of responsibility, of concern for a person. In order to develop such closeness, we must reflect upon the virtues of cherishing the well-being of others. We must come to see how this brings one an inner happiness and peace of mind. We must come to recognize how others respect and like us a result of such an attitude toward them. We must contemplate the short-comings of self-centerdness, seeing how it causes us to act in unvirtuous ways and how our own present fortune takes advantage of those less fortunate.

It is also important that we reflect upon the kindness of others. This realization is also a fruit of cultivating empathy. We must recognize how our fortune in business is really dependent upon the cooperation and contribution of others. Every aspect of our present well-being is due to hard work on the part of others. As we look around us at the buildings we live and work in, the roads we travel, the clothes we wear, or the food we eat, we must acknowledge that all are provided by others. None of these would exist for us to enjoy and make use of were it not for the kindness of so many people unknown to us. As we contemplate in this manner, our appreciation for others, as does or empathy and closeness to them.

When we look at our business, whether we are owners or workers, the same lessons apply. It is important to recognize the contributions of everyone from the receptionist to the janitor. These are not paid servants, they are persons of value. When we begin to have that level of compassion for everyone who touches us we can begin to look at the success of our business not from a financial standpoint but from a very personal place of deep caring for our fellow traveller on the journey of life.

The next time you have a sales meeting, a senior management strategy session, an employee retreat, or a shareholders meeting, take the time to really recognize our dependence on those for whom we feel compassion. This recognition brings them even closer It requires sustained attention to see others through less self-centered lenses. We must work at recognizing their enormous impact on our well-being both personally and in our business. When we resist indulging in a self-centered view of the world, we can replace it with a worldview that takes every living being into account. We must expect our view of others to change suddenly.

When Donald Trunp fires someone on the Apprentice, he says, "It's not personal, it's business"! The truth is it is personal, VERY PERSONAL!

Buddha says; "If acts of thought are done through love towards his fellows in the Brahma-faring, both openly and in private--this is a matter which conduces to untiy"

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