Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Virtues of Compassion (Daya)

There is a widely told story that speaks to the value of compassion. It seems that a woman who lived a Tao-centered life came upon a precious stone while sitting by the banks of a running stream in the mountains, and she placed this highly valued item in her bag.

The next day, a hungry traveler approached the woman and asked for something to eat. As she reached into her bag for a crust of bread, the traveler saw the precious stone and imagined how it would provide him with financial security for the remainder of his life. He asked the woman to give the treasure to him, and she did, along with some food. He left, ecstatic over his good fortune and the knowledge that he was now secure.

A few days later the traveler returned and handed back the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he told her. "Although I know how valuable this is, I'm returning it to you in the hopes that you could give me something even more precious."

"What would that be?" the woman inquired.

"Please give me what you have within yourself that enabled you to give me that stone."

The woman in this story was living her life from a sacred place of compassion.

Compassion (Daya), an emotion in human beings, is the simple ability to feel for others. Compassion gives rise to an active desire to alleviate other’s suffering and it often leads us to be merciful rather than critical. 
Baba’s compassion for others was rooted in his love for God's creation. He was always compassionate, charitable and cared for all living things, be they plants, animals or human beings. Baba lived a simple life and dedicated his life to serving God, through serving people around him. He stayed in an old dilapated mosque which he called Dwarakamai (Abode of Mother), begging for food which he shared even with cats, dogs and crows. He tended to a garden (Lendi), dedicated his life to serving God by caring for the lepers, and the poor people.