After a lovely metta meditation this morning, it occurred to me that Buddhism often talks about compassion and giving, but it does not often talk about boundaries, and where one should draw lines to stop oneself from being harmed. In fact, the examples we have are in two minds about it. Let me illustrate...
First, there is the story of the Buddha in one of his early incarnations as a prince who was so compassionate and so giving that he gave his body and his life to a starving tigress to feed her cubs. The king, his mother and his brothers of course greatly mourned him, and there is a statue of a tiger plus cubs in Nepal to comemorate the story.
Second, more often we come across instances where we have to be a little more skilful in what we do. A friend of mine who suffers from depression and occasional anxiety asked me yesterday for a few pills of lorazepam from my prescription (I use them for sleep), to use because he was going through a bad patch with anxiety. I don’t want to turn into his drug supplier, and he has a bit of a history with abusing substances, but I agreed to spot him two on condition he went to see his doctor. I did offer to let him stay the night as he wasn’t feeling comfortable in himself.
Third, yesterday I saw on tv a program about Buddhist chaplains in prisons here, teaching mindfulness to inmates. These it is a lot more difficult, you want to be compassionate and show these men how to feel empathy and loving kindness, but at the same time these are very dangerous people, who have all done serious things. It is easy to get manipulated in such an environment.
How do you feel about that in your life? How do you skilfully apply your compassion?