Choosing Compassion in a World That Needs Our Love

by Anam Thubten

It is important to bring hearts full of compassion and love into our daily spiritual practice. Without that our practice is incomplete. There is a beautiful phrase designed to help us open our hearts: “May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.” Tibetans have been reciting this phrase for centuries. While invoking this prayer we can imagine everybody in the world and hold them in our hearts with love and compassion. First, we can visualize our family and friends, and then those with whom we have difficulties. Finally, we can visualize all of humanity as one giant family. When we feel this deep desire for all beings to be free from suffering, it is quite easy to dissolve the defenses that close our hearts.

Our ego has layers and layers of defense. These defenses include fear, anger, hatred, and excessive self-cherishing. However, when we begin to feel the ocean of suffering that pervades our world, we also begin to notice our own suffering. Many people don’t want to hear anything about suffering, even though there is an ocean of suffering in our world. When our hearts are not open, we don’t feel the suffering of others. Our defenses prevent us from feeling the pain of others, and the omnipresent suffering in our world becomes quite unrelated to our everyday life as long as we ourselves are doing okay. We may not feel what is happening in our own hearts and in our minds because we are using many strategies to close down our awareness of pain both in others and in ourselves. Many spiritual masters have been calling on us to wake up from such unawareness and not only feel love toward others but also act on it through kindness, generosity, and sacrifice.


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From Choosing Compassion: How to Be of Benefit in a World That Needs Our Love by Anam Thubten © 2019 by Anam Thubten. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.  Anam Thubten grew up in Tibet and at an early age began to practice in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the founder and spiritual advisor of the Dharmata Foundation, and teaches widely in the United States and internationally. He is the author of No Self, No Problem, The Magic of Awareness, and Embracing Each Moment. To view Anam Thubten’s teaching and retreat schedule, please visit

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