It happened that one of his disciples, a layman – he was not a sannyasin, but he was very much devoted to Gautam Buddha – said, “I will do it…but I want just to make one exception. I will give all my joy and all my meditation and all my inner treasures to the whole world – except my neighbor, because that fellow is really nasty.”
Neighbors are always enemies. Gautam Buddha said to him, “You forget the world, you simply give to your neighbor.”
He said, “What are you saying?”
Buddha said, “If you can give to your neighbor, only then will you be freed from this antagonistic attitude towards a human being.”
Compassion basically means accepting people’s frailties, their weaknesses, not expecting them to behave like gods. That is cruelty, because they will not be able to behave like gods and then they will fall in your estimation, and they will also fall in their own self-respect. You have dangerously crippled them, you have damaged their dignity. One of the fundamentals of compassion is to make everybody dignified, everybody aware that what has happened to you can happen to him; that he is not a hopeless case, that he is not unworthy, that enlightenment is not to be deserved, it is your very self-nature.
But these words should come from the enlightened man, only then can they create trust. If they come from unenlightened scholars, they cannot create trust. The word, through the enlightened man, starts breathing, starts having a heartbeat of its own. It becomes living, it goes directly into your heart – it is not an intellectual gymnastics. But with the scholar it is a different thing. He himself is not certain of what he is talking about, what he is writing about. He is in the same uncertainty as you are.
Gautam Buddha is one of the landmarks in the evolution of consciousness; his contribution is great, immeasurable. And in his contribution, the idea of compassion is the most essential. But you have to remember that by being compassionate you don’t become higher; otherwise you spoil the whole thing. It becomes an ego trip. Remember not to humiliate the other person by being compassionate; otherwise you are not being compassionate, behind the words you are enjoying their humiliation.
Compassion has to be understood, because it is love come of age. Ordinary love is very childish, it is a good game for teenagers. The faster you grow out of it the better, because your love is a blind biological force. It has nothing to do with your spiritual growth; that’s why all love affairs turn in a strange way, become very bitter.
That which was so alluring, so exciting, so challenging, for which you could have died…now you could still die – but not for it, you could die to get rid of it.
A great psychologist, Alfred Adler, went to a madhouse to see in what condition the mad people were, what their problems were, and if he and his understanding about man’s psychology could be of any help.