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Everyone, the rich and the poor, the famous and the insignificant, should all be equal objects of our compassion.

One morning, as he set out to beg for food, Kasyapa thought to himself, “Today I will beg from the poor because the poor need to accumulate merit.” As he went from door to door in the poorest neighbourhood of Vaisali,
Vimalakirti suddenly appeared before him, as if out of nowhere. “What are you doing, Kasyapa?” asked Vimalakirti. “Why are you begging from the poor? That’s such a big mistake! Why are you discriminating between rich and poor! You shouldn’t do that! When you beg, it should be with an attitude of equanimity and compassion for all sentient beings.” With these words, Vimalakirti pulls the rug out from under everyone’s feet.

We are so contaminated with political correctness that we pick and choose the objects of our compassion. Not only are our minds dualistic, so is our compassion. Should we only feel compassion for a poor, sick, destitute orphan? Or stray dogs? Are we really being compassionate when we go out of our way to save a rabid dog’s life, but feel smugly satisfied when that very dog bites Donald Rumsfeld? Or if we help an orphan from Bangladesh rather than a billionaire, like Donald Trump? Our hearts go out to the homeless in bitter weather, but we remain entirely unmoved by a tweet about Bill Gates being served a tough steak for dinner.

What Vimalakirti seems to be saying to Kasyapa is that everyone, the rich and the poor, the famous and the insignificant, should all be equal objects of our compassion.

~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

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