Compassion


"When you are upset by a person's despicable conduct, immediately ask yourself, "Is it possible for despicable people not to exist?" "No, it's not possible." Then don't expect the impossible. For this person is just one of many depraved people who must exist in the world. Think the same way about the villain, the cynic, and every fool you meet. For when you remind yourself that unfortunately such people do exist, you will become more kindly disposed toward them. Reflect also on what qualities nature has given us to counter every vile act. For she has given us compassion as an antidote to brutality, and for another affliction some other quality. And in each case it's possible for you to correct the person who's gone astray; for everyone who errs misses the mark and goes down the wrong path. Besides, how have you suffered? You'll find that none of these people have done anything to harm your mind, for everything that is harmful and evil to you has its existence only in the mind. Why do you find it strange that an uncultivated person acts like an idiot? Perhaps you should blame yourself since you didn't expect this person to err in such a way. Your inner voice should have told you it was likely that he or she would commit this error, and yet you didn't pay attention and are now amazed that this person has erred. But most of all, when you blame someone for being faithless and ungrateful, turn to yourself. The fault is clearly your own, if you trusted that someone would keep a promise, or offered your own kindness only because you expected to gain by it. For what more do you want when you have done someone a service? Shouldn't you be content that you have done the right thing, and not feel you have to be paid for it? It's as if your eyes demanded a fee for seeing, or your feet for walking. These parts of your body are formed for a specific purpose, and by working according to their inherent makeup come into their own. So too we are created by Nature to act benevolently, and when we have done something helpful or in some way conducive to the common interest, we have acted in harmony with out own inherent makeup, and also come into our own."

Marcus Aurelius (121-180), Roman Emperor



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