1. “It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed. – Buddha” (Anthology 950).
Initially, I was bit shocked by the severity of the words “crushes” and “destroys” in the context of compassion, but then I realized what, in part, the Buddha was implying: Compassion is active, not passive. If you want to be a compassionate person, you can’t just sit around, saying nice things to passerbys. You have to go out, seeking out those in pain and alleviating their suffering.
2. “Compassion is the antidote to the self-chosen poison of anger” (Anthology 951).
I like the inclusion of the adjective “self-chosen” because while one cannot help an initial reaction of anger or frustration to something, remaining in that state of mind is a choice. Additionally, white I agree with this statement, I think compassion goes beyond curing anger. It can cure self-pity, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and selfishness, as well.
3. “Because these worldviews [associated with the Western Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam] are largely anthropocentric, nature is viewed as being of secondary importance. This is reinforced by a strong sense of the transcendence of God above nature” (Anthology 955).
I must be missing something, because in my past religious studies, I don’t remember learning of God’s “transcendence” above nature. Rather, nature was always presented as a manifestation of God’s beauty and power, as a means of connecting with the spiritual being within one’s soul. Perhaps I just had nature-loving teachers.
4. “You have to destroy life in order to live” (Anthology 962).
When I first read this, I thought it was incredibly sad, but after some thought, I realized that it actually just confirms the circle of life. Yes, I have to destroy life (e.g. plants) in order to live, but my body, too, will be destroyed for the betterment of the ecosystem. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of the circle of life. I don’t mean to be crude, but I’ve often thought that once I die, I want my body to be used for science and then my remains dumped in an ecologically beneficial place in a biodegradable bag. I don’t want to be a thousand-dollar casket.
5. “Carefulness in all actions became the norm for the Jain way of life” (Anthology 969).
I think this quote really encompasses what’s necessary for one to be compassionate and care for the world’s ecosystem. It’s simply being careful – thinking through the consequences and considering possible alternatives (971). We often act for immediate gratification or in considering potential consequences, we only think about the personal repercussions of our actions. Life shouldn’t be this all-consuming race with only one goal in mind. It should be a walk in park, where we can observe our surroundings, consider our steps, and go where we’re needed.