The Dalai Lama said that compassion must come from an ideal, which he called nying je chenmo. He said that nying je chenmo means great compassion, and he believed that having an ideal such as this will inspire people and change their outlook when it comes to the service to the others and the need to negate selfishness. He clarified that true compassion is evident when people are kind to those who are not their relatives and friends. The ultimate goal of compassion is to alleviate suffering and to help others achieve happiness.
Compassion is an ethical issue, and it helps define the nature of ethics because it provides a framework on how to deal with ethical dilemmas. The person knows that it is wrong to deceive others, but, when there is an opportunity to deceive people and make money from it, the temptation can be overwhelming. But if compassion is built-in within that person, then he will have the strength to steer clear away from the trap. A businessman can be tempted to throw toxic waste into a river, but compassion can help him understand that his actions can cause unhappiness and suffering for many people. Therefore, he will not dispose toxic waste even if it means a significant increase in his operations costs.
The main issue that limits a person’s capacity to empathize and have compassion for others is selfishness. I found myself in many situations wherein I knew I had to be compassionate. But the thought that I will lose money or that I will use up precious time prevented me from helping those who were in need. I have a sick relative, and I knew that I had to spend more time with her. One way to show compassion to her was to visit her in the hospital and spend some time to cheer her up. But time constraints prevented me from visiting as often as I should.
In my case, compassion is elicited when a person suffers from something that he has no control over. For example, orphans can easily elicit compassion from me as well as people who are uneducated. They suffer not because they are lazy or they committed a crime but simply because they were deprived of education and other things that I believe are basic rights of a human being. The main factor that was influential in constructing my sense of compassion is my basic understanding of economics and history. I realized that people suffer not because they did something wrong or that they are lazy. Many people suffer because of the actions of unscrupulous men. I also believe in the idea that an act of compassion towards a stranger produces a great sense of happiness and fulfilment.
The absence of a compassionate heart prevents a person from sharing what he has. As a result, his emotional development is affected because it is only through sharing and helping others that we can experience a deep connection with a fellow human being. Furthermore, compassion forces us to grow emotionally, because we have to make adjustments and we need to make sacrifices in order to place the interest of another person ahead of our own.