Home » Excerpts » Shabkar’s Song Of Compassion

Compassion is the root
of the Buddha path.

– Nagarjuna

Now I have some heart-advice to give you: a sky needs a sun, a mother needs a child, a bird needs two wings. Likewise, emptiness [which is the truth that all mind and matter are empty of unchanging substance] alone is not enough. You need to have great compassion for all beings who have not realized this emptiness – enemies, friends, and strangers. You need to have compassion that makes no distinctions between good and bad. You must understand that compassion arises through meditation, not simply from waiting, thinking that it may come forth, by itself, from emptiness.

The same number of years you spent meditating on emptiness, you should now spend meditating day and night on compassion, a compassion a hundred times stronger than that of a mother for a child burnt in a fire; an unbearably intense compassion that arises when thinking about the suffering of sentient beings. Once such compassion is born, you must practice until you come to think, with fierce energy, “Until enlightenment, I shall do whatever is possible to benefit all beings, not omitting a single one, no matter what evil actions they commit, and no matter what difficulties I must endure.”…

If someone has compassion, he is a ‘Buddha’;
Without compassion, he is a ‘Lord of Death’.
With compassion, the root of Dharma is planted,
Without compassion, the root of Dharma is rotten.

One with compassion is kind even when ‘angry’,
One without compassion will kill even as he smiles.
For one with compassion, even his enemies will turn into friends,
Without compassion, even his friends turn into enemies.

With compassion, one has all [of the] Dharma,
Without compassion, one has no Dharma at all.
With compassion, one is a Buddhist,
Without compassion, one is worse than a heretic.

Even if meditating on emptiness, one needs compassion as its essence.
A Dharma practitioner must have a compassionate nature.
Compassion is the distinctive characteristic of Buddhism.
Compassion is the very essence of all [of the] Dharma.

Great compassion is like a wish-fulfilling gem.
Great compassion will fulfill the hopes of self and others.
Therefore, all of you, practitioners and laypeople,
Cultivate compassion and you will achieve Buddhahood.

May all men and women who hear this song,
With great compassion, benefit all beings!

– Shabkar

On The Path To Enlightenment: Heart Advice From The Great Tibetan Masters
Compiled By Matthieu Ricard

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