My first assignment in my English 101 class at OTC was to read the essay Compassion and the Individual by the Dalai Lama and then record our thoughts on it. We were asked to challenge his beliefs and analyze it using our lives as a lens. It was a bit difficult for me since the article was so non-controversial and I agreed with almost every aspect of it, but I liked the challenge and enjoyed writing and thinking about it. Below is my response essay to Compassion and the Individual
Mya A. Washam
August 25, 2018
Compassion and the Individual
It would seem rather difficult to disagree on the subject of our purpose with the Dalai Lama, a man of highest enlightenment and immense wisdom. As his holiness does not have factual proof that all humans strive for contentedness I disagree. I do not have proof either, but I believe that there are individuals who long for disarray and unhappiness. Whether it be because of a mental disability or illness or less than desirable living situation. I do, however, believe that the majority of people, myself included, want to find happiness.
The Dalai Lama says, “From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion” I would agree that learning to love and have compassion for those around you makes a difference in your happiness. However, too much of a good thing is possible. Once again, based on personal experience and not factual evidence, I have found that some of the most caring and big-hearted individuals are also the ones who suffer greatly with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. I believe this is because to live a truly happy life, one must find the perfect balance of compassion for others and themselves. There’s a popular phrase that reads something along the lines of you must learn to love yourself before you can learn to love others. Nearly all of the time that phrase is directed towards romantic relationships other than platonic, but I believe it works in both. Without value for oneself they might find themselves putting others happiness before theirs, which is in no way a harmful act when appropriate. I struggle substantially with this problem myself. When you are faced with a large desire to please everyone and wish happiness for their happiness you often forget to check in on yourself and how you are feeling.
The idea that a mother’s mental state during which a child is in her womb affects the physical state of the fetus sounds a bit far fetched to me, personally. A mother’s love plays an extremely large part in the emotional development of a child. Without affection and compassion a child could grow up feeling neither of those towards others and living an exceptionally unhappy and lonely life. I mention lonely on account of without compassion it is difficult to form permanent bonds with others. I agree with the point that a teacher’s relationship with their students is also detrimental to a child’s success in school. I have gone to small private schools throughout all of grade school and have had close relationships with all of my teachers. I believe that they manner in which they taught and cared for me as a person has greatly affected how success driven and self motivating I am. My point being that one hundred percent I agree with his Holiness on this point.
I would like to believe that the world does not revolve around hate despite the immense amount of hate towards specific groups of people that exists in this time. I am under the impression that all of this hate comes from people who are simply scared at their core. These people have lacked compassion and love in their lives and instead are afraid of difference and change. I anticipate that as a whole planet we are slowly, but surely getting closer to world peace and loving each other. We definitely have a long way to come, especially in America as a nation. I won’t entertain politics in this essay as they are just one piece of the pie that directly influences the way we treat people. I think that the individuals who are still stuck in old ways and do not want to love others who are different are that way simply because it was how they were brought up and the environment they were born into. We are all given a chance to love and accept others, but some of us are too afraid of those who are different and ways that are different than what we know that they cannot.
I was raised in a very loving household where I felt that I could be open with my parents about what I felt was right and wrong. I believe that this is what causes my reaction to the ideas in this article. I believe we all need to be more open and compassionate towards the humans we share this planet with as long as more understanding and gentle with ourselves to live a happy life and fulfil our purpose here.
Gyatso, Tenzin. “Compassion and the Individual.” His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, www.dalailama.com/messages/compassion-and-human-values/compassion. Accessed 23 Aug. 2018.