I guess I’m not much of a blogger, for months on end I have nothing to say, but I have been thinking lately about an earlier post I wrote about Compassion. Specifically, “Extending compassion in all directions.”
Often, I see people causing problems for themselves and for others because we all tend to focus on what is in front of us, and forget what’s going on, on the sides, behind, above and below us.
When compassion is directed in one direction, for example, at your tenant, or your partner, or on yourself, you are missing a huge part of the picture.
When people who want to be Good become landlords, they tend to direct compassion towards their tenants only. Maybe they keep their rent artificially low so that the tenant will like them and be their friend. Or maybe this is what they think a good Christian or Buddhist or Muslim should do, and there is some basis for that. I think there have been rotten selfish landlords throughout human history.
There is nothing wrong with behaving this way, if it sustains all involved, and creates less suffering.
However, if doing this is going to put you out of business, even if it takes 15 years, this is not a wise manifestation of compassion. Does the landlord/lady have kids ? We need to think of them too, who’s going to pay for their college ? A spouse who needs health insurance? Your rental income can help with that. How about the lenders who helped you acquire your real estate ? They need to be on our radar too. If you screw up and can’t make your payments, that’s causing harm to whomever’s money you used to buy your rental. It’s also harmful to you. You will probably suffer a lot if you can’t make your mortgage payments !
Here’s what I found on the Huffington Post when I Googled “Idiot Compassion.” A term popularized by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa.
“…this is known as wise compassion, action that is inherently skillful, that sees the whole situation and aims to bring release from suffering; its opposite is known as blind or idiot compassion, which does not take into account the whole situation and so, while appearing compassionate, is inherently unskillful and may actually increase suffering. For instance, idiot compassion occurs when we support or condone neurosis, such as giving a slice of cake to an obese friend.” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-and-deb-shapiro/wise-compassion_b_841019.html
The example I use for idiot compassion is the driver who stops hard on a busy street to let a mother and her baby cross. On the surface this sounds like a kind and generous thing to do. But I was once crossing the street with my daughter, when a nice young woman hit her brakes unexpectedly to let us cross. The car full of people behind slammed into her ! The kind driver was looking forward but not behind, just like the unwise landlord. She caused a big problem involving 6 people, and their families, and their Insurance companies, and people’s rates going up, and auto body shops, and the ripples of this crash radiated out and out and out.
My daughter and I could have waited to cross another minute, and none of this would have happened. No one would have suffered at all if the young driver had seen the entire situation, instead of just focusing on what was to the front. Wouldn’t that have been much better ? Even more compassionate ?
Image: AMAZING Buddha statue at Art Institute of Chicago