Cultivating compassion by recognizing interdependence and No Self

I think this week’s in-class discussion was particularly beneficial to me in that it got me thinking about how the doctrines of interdependence and No-Self can contribute to a compassionate attitude. In the wake of the COVID-19 situation, it seems more important than ever to cultivate this attitude of compassion for everyone, from the workers putting themselves at risk for the sake of the functioning of our society to those who have actually been infected with the virus. I had never considered these Buddhist ideas as leading directly to the cultivation of compassion, but the discussion made me realize otherwise. In terms of No-Self, the idea that things/people don’t have an inherent nature leads to the realization that a person cannot be inherently bad and that everyone is therefore deserving of compassion. Keeping this in mind could potentially allow someone to maintain an attitude of compassion when confronted with a situation or a person that he or she might otherwise label as being “bad” or undeserving of compassion. In terms of interdependence, I think recognizing this theme can lead to the realization that every every action we take has a ripple effect and holds a lot of weight. This could make someone more mindful of the importance of our actions, and ultimately make us act more compassionately. 

One thought on “Cultivating compassion by recognizing interdependence and No Self”

  1. Phoebe, I agree. In this time of uncertainty, compassion is essential to the survival of our society. Furthermore, I find it interesting to evaluate the perspective-change of the masses. Those who were often ignored are in the forefront of our thoughts—grocery clerks, truck drivers, mail people, fast-food workers, etc. Although their job remains the same, the risk of entering the job has changed. There should be no label such as “dispensable” regardless of the time. I hope at the conclusion of this pandemic, we can remember show our gratitude and continue to be compassionate to all.

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