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What Is True Compassion?

The name of our company, “Compassionate Essentials,” implies the desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of others.  How can a for-profit business achieve this Buddhist goal?

Compassion vs. empathy or altruism

EmpathyEmpathy has been defined by psychologists and researchers a feeling an emotion similar to that of another person when he or she is suffering.  Altruism, on the other hand, has a motive behind an act of kindness.  We are altruistic, for example, when we donate to a charity with the expectation of getting a tax deduction.

Compassionate Essentials exists to give more people the opportunity to extend true compassion, which encompasses both empathy and altruism, to the world.  Our business practices are based upon the Buddhist concept of caring and non-harming, particularly through promoting Fair Trade

CompassionThe Dalai Lama in his “Essence of the Heart Sutra,”  explains the Buddhist concept of compassion:

“According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering.  It’s not passive — it’s not empathy alone — but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering.  Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness.  That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is lovingkindness).”

We do everything we can to uphold this concept of compassion.

Fair Trade and compassion

As we have pointed in various other blog articles  (see: Practicing CompassionTen Good Reasons to Buy Fair Trade, and Fair Trade and the Socially Conscious Consumer,  purchasing Fair Trade provides a way for us to spread compassion by ensuring fair labor practices, ending global slavery, empowering female workers, and protecting the planet,

Research has demonstrated that practicing compassion has many personal benefits.  For example the Association for Psychological Science (APS) has found that compassion leads to better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease.  Other studies by the University of Michigan and Stony Brook University revealed that practicing compassion might even lengthen our lifespan.

One of Compassionate Essentials artisans from northern Thailand, Anusara Konkam, participates in her village's Loy Krathong Festival.

One of Compassionate Essentials artisans from northern Thailand, Anusara Konkam, participates in her village’s Loy Krathong Festival.

One reason why Compassionate Essentials supports living a compassionate lifestyle because giving to others may actually be more pleasurable than the act of receiving.  Jordan Grafman of the National Institutes of Health has identified “pleasure centers” in the brain, or areas in the brain that are active when we experience pleasure, are equally as active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves.

Rainbow Solstice Bracelet designed by Anusara Konkam of Northern Thailand.

Rainbow Solstice Bracelet designed by Anusara Konkam of Northern Thailand.

Please consider Compassionate Essentials when you think of jewelry for yourself or as a gift so that the benefits of compassion can be yours.

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