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Compassion Is in Where?

farewell (Leica X1)

There is a piece by an anonymous telling of a story of a horseman reining his horse at the sight of a bearded old man waiting for a ride across the river in a bitterly cold evening. The horseman gave the old man a ride and, when nearing the old man's hut, was caused by curiosity to inquire why he had let several preceding horsemen pass by. The old man replied that from their eyes those horsemen showed no concern for his situation. It would have been no use asking them for help.  But as he looked into the eyes of that last horseman, kindness and compassion were evident. the old man knew then that his gentle spirit would welcome an opportunity to give assistance.

The horseman was Thomas Jefferson.

Compassion is in the eyes. The mother's gaze in today's shot may be a footnote to the statement. Even though the image is a bit shaky (but I seriously doubt the artistic significance of the notion of sharp images) and one of the lady's eye is hidden behind the hand, isn't the concern for the baby telling in her gaze? Fact is, she had waved to her baby long enough for me to quicken my pace from a distance to snap the shot. What a reluctant departure at the end of the lunch hour!

But the eyes only make manifest the compassion. So where does compassion begin? Recently a friend of mine was over the moon at his son getting the yearly academic achievement award from the kindergarten (!), while another ridiculed the Cambridge University for giving a ridiculously undeserved "above exceptional" grading in a secondary-level English speaking test to his 11-year-old son who only received merely two 2-hour training sessions at home for the exam. The former doesn't speak anything about the young boy's future, and the latter tells wrongly of the 11-year-old's proficiency. But if our care for people can only be found in their achievements, these exam results will be of great relevancy. Sadly, in reality, results are extremely relevant in how we rate and treat the particular person.

Wherever compassion is in, it is certainly not in the understanding of things that falls within the precondition of results. It is not in the random twisting pinches in the heart prompting us to give assistance, or the result of acting at the prompt when we feel comfortable to do so. It is not in the venting of residual kindness apart from the amount reserved for oneself. Compassion passes beyond these limits, and it is found in the personal feelings arising from frequent interior soliloquies on the meaning of existence, the vision seen from the ensuing perspectives and the self-motivated action as a result. Compassion is not seen in an unmediated spur but in the cultivated practices of the compassion donor.


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