When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.
Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.
When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.
Compassion is the ultimate flowering of consciousness. It is passion released of all darkness, it is passion freed from all bondage, it is passion purified of all poison. Passion becomes compassion. Passion is the seed, compassion is the flowering of it.
But compassion is not kindness, kindness is not compassion. Kindness is an ego-attitude, it strengthens your ego. When you are kind to somebody, you feel the upper hand. When you are kind to somebody there is a deep insult – you are humiliating the other, you are feeling happy in his humiliation. That’s why kindness can never be forgiven. Whomsoever you have been kind to will remain somehow somewhere angry with you, is bound to take revenge. Because kindness is only on the surface as compassion, but deep in the depth it has nothing to do with compassion. It has other ulterior motives.
Compassion is unmotivated, it has not motive at all. It is simply because you have, you give – not that the other needs. The other is not a consideration at all in compassion. Because you have, you go on overflowing. Compassion is very spontaneous, natural, like breathing. Kindness is a cultivated attitude. Kindness is a kind of cunningness; it is calculation, it is arithmetic.
You have heard one of the most important sayings – it happens in almost all the scriptures of the world in one form or another: Do unto others as you would like to be done with you. This is a calculated attitude, this is not compassion. This has nothing to do with religion – it is a very lower kind of morality, a very worldly morality: Do unto others as you would like to be done with you. It is very business-like, it is not religious at all. You are doing only because you would like exactly the same in return. It is selfish, it is self-centered, it is egoistic. You are not serving the other, you are not loving the other – in a roundabout way you are serving yourself. You are using the other.