Excerpt from “Compassion is our only choice” by Norman Fischer, in the March 2016 issue of The Lion’s Roar:
No doubt the most important teaching the world needs to hear from Buddhism– and from all our world religions– is compassion.
The Buddhist teachings on love and compassion are, as far as I can tell, unique and radical. They say that others are one’s self, and that one’s self is others. So the best way to take care of yourself is to take care of others, and vice versa.
This teaching has two practical consequences. First, it means that caring for others isn’t guilt-ridden self-sacrifice. It’s a joyful extension of identity.
Helping doesn’t have to be a big deal. It simply means taking care of what requires care in an ordinary way. This is natural and normal, once you see that we really are one body, not a bunch of contending individuals. It is as natural and normal to use Shantideva’s metaphor, as our fingers pulling a thorn out of our foot.
Second, the Buddhist teachings on compassion mean there are infinite ways we can help, in obvious as well as non-obvious ways. The truth is that everyone, regardless of means and capacity, can practice compassion as part of a world movement for the inclusion and benefit of all. This means caring for others, benefiting them, and doing whatever we can to ensure a world in which there is more justice and more love than ever before.