The Master views the parts with compassion, because he understands the whole.
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 39)
Wisdom and compassion are the essence of an enlightened life.
Wisdom and compassion are inextricably linked. They are two sides of the same coin. They are a unit. Separating them is an artificial, intellectual act.
When compassion is taken out of the equation, wisdom turns into worthless platitudes, which easily become destructive. Without compassion, wisdom degenerates into an escapist entanglement in concepts, theories and dogmas.
Wisdom is more than just cleverness plus compassion. It differs in quality to a point where it may seem to have little to do with cleverness. Sometimes, the actions of wise people seem to go against common sense. In fact, wise people often act in ways which are considered foolish by clever people.
The greatest love seems indifferent, the greatest wisdom seems childish.
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 41)
They would, for example, sacrifice their own interests for the sake of others, or accept defeat, sometimes even their own destruction, when they had every chance of winning or escaping. They would refuse to speak in their own defense when it seems expedient to do so, or they would speak up when it means putting themselves in jeopardy. Often, wise people would ignore what seem like clever strategies, and choose suffering instead.
When wisdom is taken out of the equation, compassion is perverted, for it loses direction totally. It becomes like a lost ship without navigational means drifting aimlessly on a stormy ocean. A good example of love without wisdom is when parents spoil their children, giving them everything they want, without giving them direction in life. Another example is if someone lacks the courage to tell his friend when she is wrong out of fear he might lose her friendship. A friend that allows you to go astray does not qualify as a friend. Continue reading