Chapter 22: Compassion - Love Comes of Age
Buddha was saying again and again to his disciples that meditation and compassion should grow side by side. These days I have been feeling your compassion as never before, and I have also been feeling the urge to start learning from it, at least the abc. For now, the only thing that makes me feel close to it are those warm tears that flow down my cheeks as I look at you.
Beloved, can you please talk about compassion, and how to go into it from the stage I’m at.
Gautam Buddha’s emphasis on compassion was a very new phenomenon as far as the mystics of old were concerned. Gautam Buddha makes a historical dividing line from the past; before him meditation was enough, nobody had emphasized compassion together with meditation. And the reason was that meditation brings enlightenment, your blossoming, your ultimate expression of being. What more do you need? As far as the individual is concerned, meditation is enough. Gautam Buddha’s greatness consists in introducing compassion even before you start meditating. You should be more loving, more kind, more compassionate.
There is a hidden science behind it. Before a man becomes enlightened, if he has a heart full of compassion there is a possibility that after meditation he will help others to achieve the same beatitude, to the same height, to the same celebration as he has achieved. Gautam Buddha makes it possible for enlightenment to be infectious. But if the person feels that he has come back home, why bother about anybody else?
Buddha makes enlightenment for the first time unselfish; he makes it a social responsibility. It is a great change. But compassion should be learned before enlightenment happens. If it is not learned before, then after enlightenment there is nothing to learn. When one becomes so ecstatic in himself then even compassion seems to be preventing his own joy - a kind of disturbance in his ecstasy.That’s why there have been hundreds of enlightened people, but very few masters.
To be enlightened does not mean necessarily that you will become a master. Becoming a master means you have tremendous compassion, and you feel ashamed to go alone into those beautiful spaces that enlightenment makes available. You want to help the people who are blind, in darkness, groping their way. It becomes a joy to help them, it is not a disturbance.
In fact, it becomes a richer ecstasy when you see so many people flowering around you; you are not a solitary tree who has blossomed in a forest where no other tree is blossoming. When the whole forest blossoms with you, the joy becomes a thousandfold; you have used your enlightenment to bring a revolution in the world. Gautam Buddha is not only enlightened, but an enlightened revolutionary.
His concern with the world, with people, is immense. He was teaching his disciples that when you meditate and you feel silence, serenity, a deep joy bubbling inside your being, don’t hold onto it; give it to the whole world. And don’t be worried, because the more you give it, the more you will become capable of getting it. The gesture of giving is of tremendous importance once you know that giving does not take anything from you; on the contrary, it multiplies your experiences. But the man who has never been compassionate does not know the secret of giving, does not know the secret of sharing.