Compassion alone makes living bliss!


One reason everyone struggles with living is that we are too self-obsessed.

The focus all the time is on what you need, what you are going through and what’s in everything that’s happening for you! The you here at times is just the individual or, often times, your family. Look around you. And reflect on the behavior of people in your circle of influence. Spend quality time reviewing how you experience them and how, perhaps, they experience you. With the exception of a few, almost everyone, including you, is self-obsessed. From the neighbor to your maid to your colleague to your manager to your elected representative, everyone is working toward and asking, all the time, “what’s in it for me?”! This is the main cause of unhappiness in the world. This tendency to be self-focused and not be even remotely interested in the welfare of people around you. This attitude is so prevalent that, on the other hand, people don’t want to even allow you to be interested in them!  

Swagat Thorat
I met a man called Swagat Thorat in Mumbai yesterday who reinforced in me the need for us, citizens of this big, beautiful world, to be compassionate. Swagat is a journalist, wildlife photographer and a film-maker. Almost 20 years ago he was commissioned by Doordarshan (the state-run TV channel in India) to do a documentary on students who were visually challenged. The experience of making the documentary exposed Swagat to a whole new world of darkness that we sighted people are unfamiliar with. Swagat was so moved that for several years he tied a blindfold over is eyes to understand the lives of the visually challenged better. He learned Braille and decided to apply his talent__which was in the space of media and communication__and launched a Marathi fortnightly in Braille called Sparshdnyan. Here is someone who can see but has decided to devote his entire Life to help those who can’t see by providing them an equal opportunity to learn and acquire knowledge. The fortnightly is free for visually challenged subscribers and he supports his operations from offering donors the opportunity to gift a free subscription for someone who cannot see. His next project is to launch a Braille daily in English that will be available to the visually challenged community across India. He says he faces huge challenges in bringing out his fortnightly on time but because he has the right motive, the means get taken care of, one way or the other. Sparshdnyan has not missed producing a single issue since its launch several years ago. “I don’t seriously worry about our financial challenges. Because our work is of a higher order. We are not in this for profit. We are into this with a purpose. I was always passionate as a journalist, photographer and filmmaker. Whatever I took up I did it well. I am still passionate. But when I entered the dark world of the visually challenged 20 years ago, it actually opened the eyes of my heart. I felt compassion for these people. So, I simply decided to focus on what I could do, with my limited resources, in my own small way. One thing has led to the other and this entire effort has now become a movement. I know a lot more needs to happen. But I never worry, I never despair. I let my inner core of joy guide me one day at a time, one step at a time, to touch the Life of one visually challenged person at a time,” explains Swagat. (The gift subscription for one visually challenged person annually is Rs.1200 or US $ 24. You can gift a subscription by writing to sparshdnyan@gmail.com or by going to www.braillenewspapers.org)

I find great value in what Swagat has shared with me. All of us have a lot of passion for whatever we do. But passion is such a selfish emotion. So it often results in self-obsession. Not that we should not focus on our lives, our families and provide for financial security or healthcare needs as time passes by. But somehow, several years of being only self-focused, makes earning-a-living a habit that’s difficult to break. So, we hardly see the world around us. We are too consumed by ourselves, our needs, our wants and our problems. Which is why, despite having everything that we need, we feel we are still missing something, searching for it, yearning for it, even as we are unable to define what is it that we are missing! The cause for such inexplicable unhappiness and discontentment is, simply, lack of compassion.

A woman called Kisa Gotami, who was suffering and in great misery, went to Gautama, the venerable Buddha, and asked him to help her bring back her dead son to Life. The Buddha accepted to do this for her provided she brought him a mustard seed from a family which had not seen death ever. Gotami spiritedly went around the entire village hoping to find one family where no one had died and was truly hoping to get a mustard seed from that home. After much knocking on doors and hearing painful, sad stories of death in every home, Gotami came back to the Buddha after four days and said she was NOW willing to accept the reality of her son’s death. She conceded: “Oh, Gautama, how selfish was my grief? I went from family to family and pretended for four long days that there might exist some clan of immortals. I have understood that those mothers alive who haven’t already lost a son are bound to lose one someday. And if they never lose a son, then a son is bound to lose a mother. And how many parents lie buried beneath our feet!” Her passion for her son and her passionate desire to bring him back alive were causing Gotami agony and suffering. The moment she replaced the passion with compassion__for every family in her village__she found peace and happiness despite her unfortunate circumstance of having lost a son.

Stay passionate by all means. But know that compassion is uplifting. It is liberating. It makes living worthwhile. It alone leads you to equanimity, peace, happiness and bliss__in that order!  


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