Tirukkural mentions Compassion and Mercy very highly. The display of compassion and mercy is a sign of power and strength. The most powerful Kings of the past have been addressed as “The Merciful” and “The Compassionate” even when they had the power to take lives of those against them without any concern. We can see many mentions of mercy in religions like Islam and Christianity, where people who live with us are taught to be treated with compassion and concern. Compassion and Mercy are qualities that have been discussed for thousands of years of Human History.
(Image Credit: Paul Stein)
Action, Words and Thoughts
Mercy is non violence that is expressed through Actions, Words and Thoughts. We may act merciful even though we may speak ill of people behind close doors. This is not mercy. Even the thoughts of violence and hurt that arise within us towards another being shows discompassion. Only a very refined being of subtle nature can be truly compassionate. A fair weather compassion wherein we wish others good when things are in favour and show a darker side otherwise can be easily caught by wise ones.
Those who are merciful do not go through severe difficulties. The Karmic cycle which returns actions done to others back to ourselves will reap compassion that we sow in others. A man who acts merciful even in the most difficult circumstances will experience peace and joy in life. This is the rule of Karma. Anger and envy that arise within us when things do not work in our favour will bounce back in our life. The words that we expressed to others will come back to us to one day. If we expect compassion from the world, it is desirable to exhibit compassion ourselves first.
Compassion of the Powerful
The display of power and anger to beings who are below us in position and stature is easy. There are places where anger is good. Even scriptures recommend punishment in cases where it is deserved. Such measures require anger in the right measures. Even Rama had to bring up a lot of anger while fighting the Demons, as this anger fueled his power and strength. But, anger as our second nature is condemned.
Those who constantly resort to anger to people below them will be powerless before those who are more powerful than them. We see this in line of hierarchy and bureaucracy. Unfortunately, India has a culture of rebuke and shaming of those less powerful than us in line of duty. This was seen in Caste culture and now in corporate offices. This shows a break in the line of compassion. It is common to scold those who are below us. This is not power. This is rather misusing the situation that fate placed us in.
“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war”
- Haile Selassie I (Popularilised by Bob Marley in Song “War”)
Only a truly insightful being can be compassionate at all levels. One who realises the value of Dharma can exercise mercy. Otherwise it is a mere show which can break under pressure. Dharma is that which needs to be continued and preserved. A culture of compassion is truly deserving to be continued for generations. The compassionate and merciful do not experience fear of consequences. They experience peace and blissfulness in life. Nothing is greater than a blissful life, as all attempts of material pursuit like money, position, relationships, possessions and so on are done with the aim of reaching bliss.
Wealth and Compassion
Effort and good fate can bring a poor man wealth. But, without compassion you will never fulfill your life purpose. Mere pursuit of wealth will catch you in a cycle of Life and Death which results mostly in misery. Wealth always bring in comparison as there is always someone who is wealthier and more prosperous than you. Wealth is a race that never ends. Compassion, on the other hand can help you realise your life potential as your thoughts become subtle enough to realise the fine truth.
Compassion is a higher form of wealth than mere material wealth. Material wealth can be amassed through Adharmic ways as well. Means that hurt the society and human good will may also bring in wealth. Compassion is a quality that takes time to develop. Mercy is not born in a day or two. Constant practice and vigil over the mind develops the quality of true compassion.
How far have you come in the ways of compassion?