I was asked whether compassion was integral to spiritual life? We must understand that real spiritual awakening means to know ‘myself’, meaning my true spiritual essence and not the temporary body and mind I am occupying and using then this will simultaneously grant the vision to see all others as spiritual beings like myself. The Bhagavad-gita states:
He is a perfect yogī who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and their distress, O Arjuna! Bhagavan-gita 6.32
Having this vision means that I could not possibly just live for ‘myself’ and exclude all others. I become bound to others, experiencing transcendental kinship, and will be moved by the unhappiness other beings experience from adopting the lie/illusion that the body is ‘me’ which means to live in ignorance of our eternal spiritual nature.
This becomes the underlying cause of spiritual compassion, defined in the Vedas as the inability to bear the distress of others. The great spiritual teacher, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, stated 500 years ago:
It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others with one’s life, wealth, intelligence and words.
By one’s work, thoughts and words, an intelligent person must perform actions which will be beneficial for all living entities in this life and the next. – CC Adi-lila 9:42-43