alan wrote:Bhikku Pesala: I see that Sutta not just about cruelty, or the removal of defilements--a subject that has been expounded on at length elsewhere. It seems to be more about the attitude you take when confronted with the problems of the world. Maybe that's why there is a long and repetitive list of all the benefits of "effacement" in so many different situations. The PTS definition strikes me as harsh and unwise. Austere penance? No thanks.
In one sense, it is indeed austere penance to have goodwill (and compassion and sympathetic joy) for violent people (and other beings). Not countering violence and anger with violence and anger can feel very demeaning. Having goodwill in the face of violence and anger can feel like complete personal defeat.
For example: I am very much afraid of dogs, and have had many bad encounters with dogs, and their owners. As I would get badly riled up (I was useless for hours, shaking and trembling) after having been barked or charged at, I realized I had to do something about it. The very thought of having goodwill for aggressive dogs seemed utterly demeaning to me, and it felt like the most unjust, cruel penance that I should have goodwill for aggressive dogs, just so that I wouldn't be all riled up when they bark at me or worse.