My curiosity constantly draws me into seeking to understand what drives people. I’m curious as to what it takes to make a person want to live well. Why should we search for peace? Why should we question our addictions? Why should we care?
I feel the answer to these questions lies entirely in the level of compassion that’s been instilled in us from a very early age. Self-compassion, or compassion for the wellbeing of others, I believe is something that starts very early. It’s those parents who buy their child a rabbit, with the intention of helping that child build love and compassion for other beings, who raise a human that’s likely to care. The caring and taking responsibility for another being, from an early age, helps the child understand the two way nature of the relationship. Pleasure is awarded the child whose rabbit is healthy because they’ve taken proper care of it. Also, when the rabbit eventually dies, the child learns from their suffering. They learn that happiness and suffering go hand in hand.
There must be sufficient reward for caring. There must always be something in it for us and we must never be ashamed to know and admit this. Our survival is paramount and we must be taught that when we make our survival the priority, we inadvertently lift everyone else
Consider the late spiritual leader Thích Nhất Hạnh. Many have described his greatest achievement as the communities he created; the Sangha. We must ask what was his motivation? The first driver will have been his belief. His faith. He believed in Buddhism with every fiber of his being. He also believed he had the medicine to help people out of their suffering; that Buddhism had some of the solutions to humanities plight. The second driving will have been his compassion. He wanted all of us to better deal with our suffering, through living lives, that had more of an acceptance of how – according to Buddhist understandings – we generate our suffering. The third, and by no means last motivation, will have concerned the pleasure he received as a result of helping others prosper.
The communities he created are currently hard at work looking to spread the word. They’re looking to spread the word of mindfulness and the importance of love and compassion in the world. It’s my understanding, that the current they will always be swimming against, is that of the conflicting beliefs our children are still being taught.
We must understand that the rewards we receive concern the easing of our own suffering. The child must be taught to understand, how it’s the process of helping other beings prosper, that in turn creates their own prosperity
It starts with: What do I want? Thích Nhất Hạnh saw the image of a Buddha as a child and decided: “That’s what I want to be” it started with what he wanted and the comfort that there will be some benefit to him. His compassion for other beings then drove him to want this for others too. His communities were his masterpiece and what piece of mind this must have offered him.
If you want piece of mind, if you’ve finally had enough of our destructive patterns of living, ask yourself what you believe is the best way to live well. To give or to take? I would suggest neither. I would suggest that through reaching for the child within, who wanted the rabbit to thrive, we get closer to finding the truth. We are neither giving or taking, just simply being compassionately and mindfully there for another being, and in turn it will be there for us. Make your driving a deep desire to help others prosper and make the miracle happen.