We all feel and know something of the benefits of compassion.

But the particular strength of the Buddhist teaching is

that it shows you clearly a "logic" of compassion. Once you

have grasped it, this logic makes your practice of compassion

at once more urgent and all-embracing, and more stable and

grounded, because it is based on the clarity of a reasoning

whose truth becomes ever more apparent as you pursue and

test it.

We may say, and even half-believe, that compassion is marvelous,

but in practice our actions are deeply uncompassionate

and bring us and others mostly frustration and distress, and

not the happiness we are all seeking.

Isn't it absurd, then, that we all long for happiness, yet

nearly all our actions and feelings lead us directly away from

that happiness? Could there be any greater sign that our

whole view of what real happiness is, and of how to attain it,

is radically flawed?

What do we imagine will make us happy? A canny, selfseeking,

resourceful selfishness, the selfish protection of ego,

which can, as we all know, make us at moments extremely

brutal. But in fact the complete reverse is true: Self-grasping

and self-cherishing are seen, when you really look at them, to

be the root of all harm to others, and also of all harm to ourselves.


Every single negative thing we have ever thought or done

has ultimately arisen from our grasping at a false self, and our

cherishing of that false self, making it the dearest and most

important element in our lives. All those negative thoughts,

emotions, desires, and actions that are the cause of our negative

karma are engendered by self-grasping and self-cherishing.

They are the dark, powerful magnet that attracts to us, life

after life, every obstacle, every misfortune, every anguish,

every disaster, and so they are the root cause of all the sufferings

of samsara.

When we have really grasped the law of karma in all its

stark power and complex reverberations over many, many lifetimes,

and seen just how our self-grasping and self-cherishing,

life after life, have woven us repeatedly into a net of ignorance

that seems only to be ensnaring us more and more tightly;

when we have really understood the dangerous and doomed

nature of the self-grasping mind's enterprise; when we have

really pursued its operations into their most subtle hiding

places; when we have really understood just how our whole

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