Yesterday I finished reading the book titled "A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill: Happiness" by Matthieu Ricard. I really enjoyed reading the book and found it quite insightful. It is well written and there are even some reflective exercises at the end of each chapter, so that you can put into practice what it is that you are learning about.
The covers a variety of topics, including if happiness is possible, what makes people happy, ego, emotions, our thoughts, desire, hatred, envy, etc. There was also a lot of discussion about the virtues of having compassion, something that I have been trying to cultivate in my children since birth. The book also discusses having compassion toward sentient beings. There was one paragraph that struck a chord with me that I wanted to share here, and it reads:
"...it is essential to understand at the most fundamental level that all living creatures share our desire to avoid suffering and experience well-being. That understanding cannot remain a mere concept but must be internalized until it has become second nature. Ultimately, when our sense of belonging extends to all living beings, we are intimately touched by their joys and sufferings."
Becoming second nature... for me, and for many other people who support and raise awareness about animal rights, it is second nature. My notion of having compassion for all animals is automatic, it is part of who I am. It is not something that I have to think about or try to remind myself of that. It is ingrained in the fibers of my very being.
One of my close friends, who I met about five years ago, got to know my views on having compassion for animals. She told me that she thought it was a "gift from God." Whether my sense of compassion for all living creatures is a gift from God, or it is something that we teach our children, it is important that we all learn it in order to experience true happiness, and help to spread happiness throughout the world.