Radman622 wrote:Hello, I have done some readings into Buddhist philosophies, and have always been very impressed by frequent mention and emphasis on love and compassion as the ultimate goal of enlightenment.
The ultimate goal of enlightenment is freedom from suffering; although compassion and kindness and joy and equanimity are inevitable results of such an attainment as well as incredibly helpful wholesome states to cultivate, they are still not the main focus of the spiritual path.
However, I have also noted that Buddhism is a highly relativistic religion/philosophy, one of the things about it that attracted me as opposed to more absolutist theistic religions. If I am incorrect in this assessment, please correct me.
Buddhism is relativistic in that it defines reality in terms of individual experience, but it is also very rigid and deontological when it comes to ethical behavior and wholesome vs. unwholesome actions.
I was contemplating the other day about the concept of an absence of absolute "Truth," and came to the conundrum of love. Pure, selfless love might be described as "the ultimate expression of truth," and I'm sure you'd all agree with me when I say I believe that love is the most powerful force in the universe, if it exists.
Kamma is the most powerful force in the universe as it is what binds beings to Samsara, and I'd say that the ultimate truth would be the Four Noble Truths. Compassion is definitely important and good, but it is inseparable and subservient to wisdom.
Basically, wouldn't the existence of something that powerful constitute an absolute? A truth? A God or at least, God-Force of some kind? Isn't it true that without this absolute, love is nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain or an advantageous behavior, nothing more?
All things are constructed, lacking in essential self, and subject to change - that includes love. It's very wholesome and valuable and helpful, but it's still just as empty as every other thing in this mass of suffering we call Samsara. It's better to focus on how compassion helps others as well as yourself without wondering on the metaphysics of this or that.
Please advise me, I am in personal crisis - my theistic friends and family have been posing these questions to me, and I am only beginning in my studies of Buddhism, so I am not entirely certain what the correct answer would be from a Buddhist perspective.
Just say that the Buddha encouraged compassion, kindness, and joy in other people's success, but that Buddhism also recognizes that all things are compounded, empty, and bound up with suffering. Love is a tool to help ease the suffering of beings, but it has no independent existence apart from the causes and conditions that allow it to arise.
I do know one thing, I don't want to go through life not believing in love.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.
His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti SuttaStuff I write about things.