The Soft Spot


By Judith Simmer-Brown, PhD & Gaylon Ferguson, PhD

Welcome to “The Soft Spot,” a new section on the Naropa University blog dedicated to compassion.

Naropa University’s founder, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, spoke of the compassion instinct inherent in our humanity as “the soft spot.”  Everyone, no matter how brutal or oblivious, has the ability to appreciate something, to love something, even if it’s only tortillas or curry, Rinpoche remarked.  We could be “covered with cast-iron shields, but some sore spot always exists in us, which is fantastic.  That sore spot is known as embryonic compassion, potential compassion.” (CW2, 122)  It is our fundamental humanity and goodness.

Within every intense emotion or personal difficulty, that soft spot provides an opportunity.  We can crack open our hearts and give up our habit of causing harm to ourselves and others.  We can find our ways forward to a life of caring and connection.  The trick is to stay with the soft spot.

Because we have that kind of vulnerability and softness, it is possible for us to develop full-blown compassion.  That is why we train in meditation and cultivate that tenderness of heart.  When our own vulnerability and the suffering of the world meet, we can develop resilient compassion and can help others and the world.

Compassion Is JSB.jpeg
Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies
Naropa University

Why Soft Spot?

The phrase comes from Naropa’s founder, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who spoke of the innate compassion of all living beings–everyone loves and cares for someone or something. No one is so hardened or armored that there is no room for something to touch us, to affect us. Usually, we cover over this tenderness and vulnerability, but it is also a surprising source of strength and power. The experience of caring about our lives and our world energizes us, motivates us to face and transform the suffering all around us.

Why Soft Spot now?

We live in a time of increasing violence, greed, and numbness. From the destruction of eco-systems to mass murders, from natural disasters to social polarization, and the rise of opiate addiction, the situations and events of our contemporary world call out to us for compassionate responses.

Learn more in this video featuring Naropa faculty Judith Simmer-Brown and Gaylon Ferguson and subscribe to our blog to be notified about our next post on ‘The Soft Spot’!

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