A Brief Note on Awareness, Compassion and Happiness by Dr. Niall MacGiolla Bhuí
25 hundred years ago a man named Gautama experienced what he understood to be liberation and became known as Buddha – the awakened one. The Buddha’s teachings can be described in just one word – awareness. Through this experience, Buddhism has spread throughout the world.
Kindness, as described in the popular medium Wikipedia, is ‘A behaviour marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition and concern for others’. It is known as a virtue and recognised as a value in many cultures and religions around the world. Kindness is something that impacts everyone and every species in some way or another, at some stage in their lives. Some, of course, are more fortunate than others in longevity of expression. In Buddhism, kindness is known as ‘Metta’.
It seems to me that at some point in our lives, or indeed many intersected points, we ponder upon a similar question to the one Gautama posed. What is the point to human life? Buddhism, to take one system, may be seen as a spirit of inquiry and at some point in our lives we reach a crossroads whereby we re-evaluate and renegotiate the path in life we are journeying. We tend to ask ourselves questions such as, why am I here? What is human existence relly about? Why was I born? Who am I when I die? Life, birth, death, and the journey we can all identify (see Hagen, 1997). Perhaps, some explore it more than others. Different depths, at different times, fear, love. We are all unique beings. This is the joy of life.
More Recent Thinking
More recently, the Dalai Lama sees love and compassion as something that must come together as both are essential for the moral code to ascertain world peace. He describes love as non-attachment, for example, when we are attached to someone it is easier to be kind but when your attachment changes, the kindness level can also change, or disappear. Real love is based on altruism. In this regard, then, compassion remains as a human response to suffering. Compassion is the basis of human happiness.