While physical renunciation supports
mental renunciation of greed, hatred and delusion,
mere physical renunciation is inadequate
without mental renunciation.
Since genuine compassion is necessarily universal and impartial, to achieve it, we must first cultivate impartiality toward all beings. According to Buddhism, those we consider as friends and relatives in this life could have been out worst enemies in a previous life. The same reasoning can be applied to those we currently consider as enemies. Even if they do us great harm, they could have been our best friends or even our mother in past lives. Reflecting on the fluctuating and interchangeable nature of our relations, which means that each individual may manifest in turn as a friend or an enemy, we learn to see things from a more impartial perspective.
This mental training requires a certain detachment, but there again we must understand what is meant by that term. Some people think that Buddhist detachment is synonymous with indifference. But this is wrong. It simply means standing back from the superficial considerations that involve classifying one person as a friend and another as an enemy, with all the emotions that result from that. This type of detachment is the opposite of indifference to others because it is the very basis for the authentic compassion that one feels for all beings impartially.
– The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
On The Path To Enlightenment: Heart Advice From The Great Tibetan Masters
Compiled By Matthieu Ricard