Rinpoche encourages us to be “psycho-compassionate” rather than “psychotherapeutic” when confronted with people’s problems. Rather than trying to fix the person and their problems as in a therapeutic model, it is better, from a dharmic viewpoint, to simply be with the person, feel what they feel, have empathy for their situation. If we can connect with them empathically, then our help is already there. Often this is far more beneficial than trying to fix them.
We Have All Been There
Rinpoche gives the example of how the Buddha was able to really communicate with people because he knew what people were going through as he himself had gone through it. Similarly, Rinpoche suggests that when someone is angry, sad, or lonely we should recall a time when we also were angry, sad, or lonely. We have all been there. And we all can relate to negative emotions.
Many of us trying to be compassionate under challenging circumstances complain of burnout and exhaustion. Rinpoche explains that compassion does not mean being self-centered or self-involved. Instead, it means to feel empathy in the situation sincerely. When we don’t focus on our own situation there is less attachment to an outcome and less chance of feeling exhausted. “When we jump into shit we become part of the shit!”
What Works for Us: Connection
To be genuinely compassionate or kind, we let go of our ownership of the compassion. Instead of thinking “I am being kind”, we merely reference “kind”. That’s enough. With this attitude, we will have less attachment to the result and to the concept that we are creating a “kind event”.
When we can be with someone with empathy, there is a connection. However, there is something else we can do here. Having developed an empathic bond, we then can gently explain what works for us when we are in these situations and having these emotions.
This teaching took place at Gomde-UK, in August 2018.