From a teaching on Songs of Barway Dorje by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso.]
Any dharma activity — whether we engage in it as students, as practitioners, as disciples, or as teachers — any dharma activity that is performed without compassion, without the motivation of love and compassion, is poisonous. It is like eating poisoned food, or, if you’re a teacher, feeding poisoned food to others. The food will nourish you, it will fill your belly, but at the same time it’s making you sick. And the sickness produced by uncompassionate dharma activity is worse than physical sickness. We all, naturally, are very concerned with physical sickness; we don’t like it. But the very worst thing physical sickness can do is kill us, and then it’s over. We’re cured. But the mental sickness that is produced by lack of compassion is far, far more dangerous than that because it covers or obscures reality. Literally covers it just like a curtain covering a window and preventing you from seeing what’s outside. Lack of compassion, and even dharma activity conducted without compassion, adds to our obscurations and it causes us to be unable, temporarily, to see things as they are, unable to accurately connect to reality. Our minds become like dirty mirrors that can never show us the true beauty of our own face or anything else because they are so dirty that when we look in the mirror instead of seeing reflection all we see is dirt. And, that’s what we become when we lack compassion.