“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”
– The Dalai Lama
But compassion goes far beyond that, it is not really a skill, but a way of being and relating to other beings in the process.
What we see in the world right now is a tremendous lack of compassion. Humans at this moment, simply cannot relate to other beings and see them as someone that also seeks happiness and wants to avoid suffering. As a result of that we are creating a world full of anger and fear.
The first that is needed is compassion for ourselves. What this means is that we need to become aware of our suffering, the repressed hurtful emotions and tendencies that are outside of our current field of awareness, (because we have blocked them and thus narrowed our field of consciousness) usually buried in our subconscious or just on the edge of our conscious perception.
Since most people are not even aware they are suffering, they can hardly understand that others are suffering, or empathize with them.
Most people are simply in a state of blankness or resistance. They feel nothing, or at least very little – thus they cannot feel either happiness or suffering since they have desensitized themselves to both.
By becoming conscious of them and embracing them we can dissolve them and with that gain a deeper understanding of our own experience and the experience of all beings.
Having compassion for someone primarily involves two things – wisdom and loving-kindness. With wisdom we can understand what the other person is going through, we can see their perspective. With loving-kindness, we empathize with them and see them as similar to us in their basic nature (or even deeper, one with us), where they also seek happiness (whatever that may mean to them) and wish to avoid suffering.
Both of these qualities can be boiled down to one, when we are engaged with another being directly – presence.
This then gives us an insight into their life, into their perspective, into their experience. At this point, when we can see and even feel they are suffering, compassion usually arises spontaneously (unless we resist the situation, try to over analyze it or block any empathy from arising).
Ultimately, with this practice we understand that they are suffering – and since we have also experienced suffering at some point in our existence, we understand what they are going through. We have in a way merged with them and come to see their experience as part of our own.
This form of connection & merging with another being (and with it the understanding of their experience) is compassion.
On an even deeper level it is the realization of oneness with this being.