Compassion and non-attachment

Compassion – an interesting word; its structure seems to imply ‘with passion’.

It seems to me that the truest compassion cares deeply for another being, yet without being wedded to or judging that being’s actions or their outcomes.

Yet again, there is a sense that depth and passion are intensified and strengthened by the capacity for non-attachment. And the distinction between non-attachment and detachment becomes even clearer.

As a footnote, perhaps our children are our greatest challenge in aspiring to non-attachment and thus our teachers at a profound level. It seems particularly difficult not to be attached to outcomes in the context of those we love – I guess this is the point of connection between non-attachment and unconditional love.

4 Replies to “Compassion and non-attachment”

  1. That sounds like buddhist philosophy…..

    I am struggling with the notion of compassion……at a practical level it is helping someone without feeling compelled that we have to and without feeling attached to the outcome of our own actions.

    So how does that relate to the images of Haiti and Japan and people donating money when people right in our own community could use our help?

    I also wonder about the concept of pride and being proud of our children
    Here is a typical definition:

    “Feeling pleasurable satisfaction over an act, possession, quality, or relationship by which one measures one’s stature or self-worth.”

    So I don’t tell my kids I am proud of them….I think that’s just attaching my own self worth to their achievements which I think is a sad way to be.

    They find their own way and I am happy for their abililty to explore and I try to be happy even through their failures and even if their direction is not mine….that’s a tough path to follow.

    But they ask me if I am proud of them when they feel they’ve achieved something and disappointed when I say no….there is something wrong there, but I think they understand better now.

    Sorry to be so prosaic about all this….I can’t wait to meet!!!

  2. There is a definition of pride that reads:”the correct level of respect for the importance and value of your personal character, life, efforts, or achievements”. I think it is important to take a wholesome pride in one’s achievements, that is, to do what is important to you to the best of your ability and to value that commitment and achievement. This is also, I think, the kind of pride that one can and should encourage and offer ones children. And yes, this includes affirming them when their direction or values differ from one’s own.

    However, what I do not think is healthy or desirable is the pride that is “a haughty attitude shown by somebody who believes, often unjustifiably, that he or she is better than others”, nor should we encourage our children in this!

  3. Dear Gina

    What a lovely website, Gina! Congratulations!
    I think one can be proud of people – especially when they make a supreme effort. I was proudest of my middle daughter when she came stone last in a race at school athletics. Odd? Maybe – but she was house captain because of her seniority rather than sporting prowess and there was no one else to run the 800 metres. At the three quarter mark I saw her falter and I thought she would fall, but she pulled herself together and finished – collapsing, scarlet-faced, as she crossed the finish line far behind the others. That took more courage, effort and resolve than any of her other successes, and I have never been more proud of her than that day.

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