Look at Your Own World
Step 2 from Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
During this step, we should take ourselves mentally to the summit of a high mountain, where we can stand back and see things from a different and dispassionate perspective. As we undertake this exercise, it might be helpful to think in terms of the Confucian concentric circles of compassion, starting with your family, moving out to your friends and community, and finally to the country in which you live. Many of the things we have long taken for granted seem suddenly inadequate. We should not approach our task with the harsh zeal of a reformer; there should be no anger, frustration, or impatience in our survey. We must look at our community with compassion, estimate its strengths as well as its weaknesses, and assess its potential for change. Family is a school of compassion because it is here that we learn to live with other people. What do you really feel about your family? What makes you proud and happy about them? How do you conduct arguments and disagreements? What are your particular strengths in family life? Is there anything more you could do? Is your family a place where your children learn the value of treating all others with respect? Consider the workplace. How is the Golden Rule in the course of your work? What would be the realistic criteria of a compassionate company? If your profession made a serious attempt to become more compassionate, what impact would this have on your immediate environment and the global community? To whom in your profession and your own place of work would you give a Golden Rule prize? Finally, take a dispassionate look at our nation…
Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, 2011
Every man or woman in the street can become a force for good in the world.
Xun Zi, Confucian philosopher, 312-230 BCE – he believed that humans are good by nature and rejected force as an educational instrument