Dharma Lessons

Wisdom & Compassion

Story:  A traveler was walking down the road and encountered a butterfly trying to emerge from it's cocoon.  The butterfly was struggling and struggling.  The traveler filled with compassion for the suffering butterfly reached down and broke open the cocoon to free the butterfly from it's struggles.  The freed butterfly fell to the ground unable to fly and died.  The traveler did not have the wisdom to know that the struggle against the cocoon strengthens a butterfly's wings enabling it to fly.  Without the struggle, the butterfly's wings do not work.

Discuss:  Why is wisdom important when acting with compassion?   Are there ways in which we act with compassion and not with wisdom?  How can we incorporate more wisdom into our compassionate works?   There is an expression "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."  Both acts are of compassion, which one incorporates wisdom as well?

Practice:  Be mindful before acting with compassion.  Think about the consequences of your compassion.

Other Notes:  I once saw a man begging for money on a street corner.  He held a sign up saying "Hungry".  I later saw that same man in a store purchasing cigarettes. I couldn't help but wonder what other habits are supported in the same means:  alcohol?  drugs?   Do we work with wisdom & compassion when we simply hand a begger money?  Are we instead of feeding the person, allowing them to continue some habit that might be life threatening?   I have seen one man often standing at a busy intersection with another sign about feeding his family.  Often people driving by hand money to this man.  Once I saw someone hand a bag of food to him.  Seems to me that is a more wise action - giving food to the hungry instead of money.

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