A young disciple approached his Master and asked,’ Master, you always tell us to be kind and compassionate. But what is compassion?”
After thinking, the wise teacher asked the young student to peek out the window. Master led him to the window and directed his attention to the beggar sitting on the corner of the street. While looking at him, they noticed that an old lady had walked by and given him a coin.
After a while, a merchant wearing elaborate clothes passed by and gave him five coins to the beggar.
After a while, a mother and a child passed the street. The young child noticed the beggar and handed him a flower he was carrying.
After looking at these three incident, the Master asked the student, “Which of these do you believe felt the most compassion for the beggar?”
“Merchant did as he gave the beggar five coins,” answered the young pupil.
The Master smiled at the pupil and answered, “You see, an elderly lady passing by was infuriated by the beggar’s poverty, so she gave him a gold coin,” The old lady behaved out of pity for the beggar.
After that, we observed a merchant see a small gathering of people talking about him, so he handed the beggar five coins and swiftly left. Merchant acted with pride. He wanted to show off his money to those folks while demonstrating that he has a huge kind heart and enjoys helping others. He tried to up his social image and boost his ego.
Later, we noticed a child carrying some flowers, and when he walked by the beggar, he smiled and handed him a flower. He did not have pride or pity or want to boost his ego or social image. He acted with love. That little child was the one who responded compassionately.”
“Compassion is considerably larger and nobler than pity,” Master said. Fear is the source of pity. When fear touches someone’s anguish, it turns into pity; when love touches someone’s pain and suffering, it becomes compassion.
So, to comprehend compassion, we must recognize that all beings are the same and suffer in a similar manner. We must acknowledge those who suffer and realize that we are neither different nor superior to anybody.”