reading: “twelve steps to compassion” – karen armstrong

Suffering is a law of life, and it is essential during this step to acknowledge our own pain or we shall find it impossible to have compassion for the distress of others. In Buddhism, compassion (karuna) is defined as a determination to liberate others from their grief, something that is impossible if we do not admit to our own unhappiness and misery. Today in the West we are often encouraged to think positively, brace up, stiffen our upper lip, and look determinedly on the bright side of life. It is, of course, important to encourage the positive, but it is also crucial sometimes to allow ourselves to mourn. The ancient Greeks had no problem with shedding tears; they believed that weeping together created a bond between human beings. In Shakespeare’s day it was considered quite normal for men to weep. Not anymore. Today there is often a degree of heartlessness in our determine good cheer[….]

— Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

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