Compassion and Self Compassion

It was probably my second year in college when I read a book called Siddartha, written by Herman Hesse. It was an assigned reading for one of my classes and is one of those books that has had a profound impact on my life. It seems that the name Siddartha in Sankirt means, he who has found the meaning of existence. The young prince "Siddartha", as a child was protected by his wealthy father who never wanted him to see the painful experiences in life. He set about protecting his son from seeing life's suffering by keeping from going into the world outside of the village compound walls. As Siddartha grew into a young man he left his father home, went out into the world, and saw for himself the suffering that existed in the world. He witnessed people who were in pain, sick, aging, and dying. He spent the rest of his life trying to learn how to alleviate human suffering. Very much like the story of Jesus except in scriptures

Ultimately he achieved enlightenment. As many of you know and became known as the Buddha, Like Siddartha most of us share the desire to relieve others of discomfort and pain. This compassion is born into us and is part of our rich human experience, sometimes it is hidden from us but continues to exist under all of the frustrations, anxieties, anger, fear and resentment that often creates a cloud that keeps us from seeing this beauty within ourselves. We may even attempt to block it out because it hurts too much to see other living beings suffering. Although many of us may not achieve the freedom of enlightenment in our lifetime, this is really a story about our shared humanity. We have the capacity to have compassion for every sentient being, including, "ourselves", the one that we probably neglect the most.

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