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Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

“You know, if compassion is so good for us, I have a question. Why don’t we train our children in compassion? If compassion is so good for us, why don’t we train our health care providers in compassion so that they can do what they’re supposed to do, which is to really transform ? And if compassion is so good for us, why don’t we vote on compassion? Why don’t we vote for people in our government based on compassion, so that we can have a more caring world? In Buddhism, we say, ‘it takes a strong back and a soft front.’ It takes tremendous strength of the back to uphold yourself in the midst of conditions. And that is the mental quality of equanimity.

“But it also takes a soft front – the capacity to really be open to the world as it is, to have an undefended heart. And the archetype of this in Buddhism is Avalokiteshvara, Kuan-Yin. It’s a female archetype: she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world. She stands with 10,000 arms, and in every hand, there is an instrument of liberation, and in the palm of every hand, there are eyes, and these are the eyes of wisdom. I say that, for thousands of years, women have lived, exemplified, met in intimacy, the archetype of Avalokitesvara, of Kuan-Yin, she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world.”

Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy was last updated February 10th, 2016 by Mike Schleif

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