Unique Self Institute

Self-Compassion: The Secret Bridge to Outrageous Love

Feb 28, 2024

by Claire Molinard

In the Buddhist tale of The Mustard Seed, Kisa Gotami, a grieving mother seeks solace from the Buddha following the loss of her child. Touched by her pain, the Buddha offers to help, but with one condition: she must retrieve a mustard seed from a home untouched by death.

Full of hope, Kisa Gotami embarks on her quest, knocking on doors and asking for a mustard seed. However, with each household she visits, she discovers that death has touched every family. Unable to find a single household untouched by loss, she returns to the Buddha empty-handed yet completely transformed from her experience.

Through her journey, Kisa Gotami came to understand the universality of human suffering and the inevitability of death. Despite her initial despair, this realization opened her heart to compassion, both for herself and for others who share in the experience of loss. 

Echoing Dr. Marc Gafni’s assertion that “the world is filled with outrageous pain, and the only response to outrageous pain, is Outrageous Love”, Kisa Gotami’s story is a tale about the healing power of compassion—which is only accessible through Outrageous Love. 

“Outrageous Love” is the unified heart-field which poets like Rabindranath Tagore and Dante Alighieri have described as “the heartbeat of life”, or the “love that moves the sun and stars”. Buddhists often refer to it as the Buddha’s Big Heart, or One Heart. All attempts to describe that love however will never fully grasp the realization that at the core of Reality and awareness itself, there’s an inherent force which is Love. 

The Buddha’s seemingly simple yet profoundly wise instruction to Kisa Gotami to find a mustard seed came from his deep compassion and understanding of human nature. By assigning her this mission, he knew she would have a chance to transcend her individual grief by forging connections with others through their shared experiences of humanity and suffering. He understood that this interconnectedness would open her heart to self-compassion and compassion for all beings. 

There is a common thread running through the teachings of the Buddha, Kisa Gotami’s tale, and the insights of Dr. Gafni. They all point to the subversive nature of self-compassion: When we turn to our own pain with radical tenderness and acceptance we are activating an inner technology that transcends the mere act of being kind to ourselves. As we allow suffering to break our hearts open, the light of Outrageous Love begins to enter through the cracks. Like Kisa Gotami, that love starts to shine through and transform us and all that we touch. In the end, our suffering requires compassion— truly, the only response to Outrageous Pain is Outrageous Love.