Many years ago, in a different lifetime, I was hurting emotionally because of the actions of someone I loved. The exact cause is irrelevant. My face clearly showed anguish. As I was driving along I stopped at some lights and another car containing two young women stopped, facing me in the other direction. One of them looked straight at me, saw the pain in my face and flashed me a sympathetic and understanding smile. She said something to her friend and they both looked at me with expressions that said: “It’s all right. Nothing can be that bad.” I smiled weakly in return but felt better. The load had been lifted, not completely, but I was no longer being crushed.
It was one of those incidents that you never forget. What exactly had transpired between us? No words had been exchanged. I had never met those two angels of compassion and would never see them again. But they had felt my pain as one human being to another. No doubt they thought they had experienced something similar themselves and were willing, maybe even felt obliged, to share their knowledge that time heals everything. A look was all it took. How authentic those two women must have been. There was no delay to assess the situation. How might a strange man react to a woman smiling at him? What business was it of theirs to intrude into one man’s private pain? They would never know that their smile would never be forgotten.
Why was I so affected by this act? Clearly they were not the first people to smile at me, not even the first young attractive women. But this smile had been different. This was a smile freely given with no expectation of gain. This was a smile unmediated by social conventions, a simple, spontaneous act of compassion. It was the kind of smile that redeems the human race.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama