Photo by Katsuaki Shoda
Perhaps it was the context that made me feel extra sensitive to the topic of animal suffering. As I was sitting in my reading chair, I looked over at my dog Tommy, who lay peacefully on the ground beside me, with tenderness and purity sparkling in his eyes; I started to cry.
It wasn’t just animal suffering that had bought me to tears, but the realization that “If I could feel such empathy toward animals, then surely I could feel more compassion towards people.”
This has helped me greatly at dealing with internal conflicts involving other people. Each time I sense a grudge or anger towards someone building up within me, I remind myself of this quote and the realization I had experienced while sitting in my reading chair.
It reminds me to be kinder, to seek understanding and to practice forgiveness. As a result, I’m experiencing less mind-created anxiety. Additionally, more peace and compassion towards other people and situations beyond my control.
“It isn’t easy to turn around and start walking in the other direction on that road that can lead either toward or away from suffering, but we can practice for it in whatever small ways present themselves. We can transport spiders out of the path of danger, if we are willing to be thought mildly ridiculous; we can give over part of the vegetable garden to the gophers and the deer; we can stop shutting the lamb and the pig and the cow out of our imaginations, which will make us less and less interested in eating their legs and sides and rumps. We aren’t going to achieve complete harmlessness, but we can take some steps in that direction. The point of saving all sentient beings is not to ensure the personal health and happiness of every bug, bird, fish, and animals on the planet. It is simply to foster the attitude that leads away from suffering. We can’t change the world so that no one gets sick, no one is hurt, no one dies. The best we can do is take care of suffering where we find it. We save all beings because in the process of doing so we expand the boundaries of our identity; we push out the fences that limit what we can love.”