This compassion should be based on understanding that all beings desire happiness, but by not recognizing the cause of happiness, or knowing how to cultivate it, or recognizing suffering and its cause, they are unable to bring about their own benefit.Although sentient beings desire happiness, they only accumulate the causes of suffering.
So their aim and their actions are opposite to each other. One reason why we should cultivate compassion is that we are all alike in desiring happiness. All beings have taken rebirth in samsara from time without beginning. They all have been born as our parents and other relatives. So we all are related from previous existences. These sentient beings exist throughout space and wherever they are, there are afflictions and negative actions, And wherever these are, there is suffering.
When we read the prayer "may all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness" we are cultivating loving kindness. And when we say "may they avoid suffering and the causes of suffering" we are cultivating compassion. But its not enough to cultivate these emotions. We should also seek a path to wisdom.
We should transform our minds and seek the means to transform the mind. Without transforming our minds we cannot change our actions. Without changing our actions we cannot transform our karma and will continually take rebirth in samsara and suffer its pains. So we should understand that one's well being results from cultivating its causes.
Shayamuni, who was omniscient and saw the results of actions, taught the Dharma so that we can transform our minds. Because of our ignorance, we grasp at an ego, believing in its existence. We designate objects as our possessions. From the thought of I arises the concept of others. Our selfishness gives rise to aversion and negative actions, which causes us to wander in samsara.
So we need to transform our self cherishing mind into a mind that seeks to benefit others. This is primarily done by cultivating loving kindness and compassion. The practice of the four immeasurables: loving kindness, joy, compassion, and equanimity, are so named because they cultivate these emotions impartially to all of the infinite number of beings.
Not every intention to benefit others is bodhicitta. Bodhicitta has the aim to bring all beings to enlightenment. If one is able to transform one's ordinary mind into the mind of enlightenment, we are on the path to liberate oneself and others from samsara. Any virtuous practices one performs become the cause of enlightenment. So everything depends upon one's motivation and aspiration. So it is important to look inside and check one's intentions.
If one's intention is pure, one's actions will be pure. If they are impure, one's actions will be impure. So one should cultivate alertness and mindfulness to check one's motivation and correct it if it is faulty. When one listens to teachings, it is not enough to hear the words. One must also understand their meanings.