Avoidance and Compassion

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Stephen K
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Avoidance and Compassion

Postby Stephen K » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:56 pm

In many places in the suttas the Buddha said that we should be careful with whom we associate with. He said that we should avoid fools:

Dhammapada wrote:206. Good is it to see the Noble Ones; to live with them is ever blissful. One will always be happy by not encountering fools.

207. Indeed, he who moves in the company of fools grieves for longing. Association with fools is ever painful, like partnership with an enemy. But association with the wise is happy, like meeting one's own kinsmen.


Therigatha 1018-1019 wrote:One who is clever should make no friends
Amongst the malicious, the angry, the envious
Or those who delight in the misfortunes of others.
Truly, contact with the bad is evil.

One who is clever should make friends
With those with faith, the pleasant, the wise,
And those with great learning.
Truly, contact with the good is blessed.




Yet, we are also advised to be compassionate to all living beings, without exception.


The question: how do we combine the teachings of compassion and avoidance of fools? How do we avoid the foolish and yet at the same time show compassion for them? Do we have to avoid them completely; i.e. not talking with them, not greeting them, etc? I mean, is it not rude and "uncompassionate" to shun these kinds of people?
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

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Phra Chuntawongso
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:06 pm

Stefan wrote:In many places in the suttas the Buddha said that we should be careful with whom we associate with. He said that we should avoid fools:

Dhammapada wrote:206. Good is it to see the Noble Ones; to live with them is ever blissful. One will always be happy by not encountering fools.

207. Indeed, he who moves in the company of fools grieves for longing. Association with fools is ever painful, like partnership with an enemy. But association with the wise is happy, like meeting one's own kinsmen.


Therigatha 1018-1019 wrote:One who is clever should make no friends
Amongst the malicious, the angry, the envious
Or those who delight in the misfortunes of others.
Truly, contact with the bad is evil.

One who is clever should make friends
With those with faith, the pleasant, the wise,
And those with great learning.
Truly, contact with the good is blessed.





Yet, we are also advised to be compassionate to all living beings, without exception.


The question: how do we combine the teachings of compassion and avoidance of fools? How do we avoid the foolish and yet at the same time show compassion for them? Do we have to avoid them completely; i.e. not talking with them, not greeting them, etc?

Hi Stefan. If my understanding is correct,we should be wary of who we choose to hang out with.
This does noy mean ignoring those people who are foolish,it means not making them your closest mates.
Its the old" birds of a feather flock together, or garbage in, garbage out."
With metta
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
Lost in space
And meaning

plwk
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby plwk » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:09 pm

....we should be wary of who we choose to hang out with.
This does noy mean ignoring those people who are foolish,it means not making them your closest mates.
Its the old" birds of a feather flock together, or garbage in, garbage out."
Bhante, what if it was one's own parents, siblings and relatives....yes those people related by blood...fortunately or unfortunately?

:anjali:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Phra Chuntawongso
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:29 pm

plwk wrote:
....we should be wary of who we choose to hang out with.
This does noy mean ignoring those people who are foolish,it means not making them your closest mates.
Its the old" birds of a feather flock together, or garbage in, garbage out."
Bhante, what if it was one's own parents, siblings and relatives....yes those people related by blood...fortunately or unfortunately?

:anjali:

Of course when it comes to family,for a while at least we seem to be stuck with them.However, these are not the people we choose to be with.
With my own family, I had to battle racism(blacks are racially inferior) homophobia( I was told that all gays were pedophiles and that it was a responsibility of mine to beat the living daylights out of any poof I ran into) and all sorts of other ignorances.Unfortunately, not being a buddhist at the time, I may not have responded in the most appropriate way.
The people I choose to be with, were not the wisest choice and as a result drug addiction and the deaths of people I held close occured.
Leaving my home,my friends and the country of my birth, making new friends(who did not see prison as a badge of honour) made all the difference in my life and now I am a monk, instead of a banged up stoner killer.
With metta.
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
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meindzai
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby meindzai » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:42 pm

Another perspective on this is just to be very mindful about the influence of the people surrounding you. You might not be around the most skillful people, but you can watch how they effect you. You don't have to be like them.

-M

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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:23 am

meindzai wrote:Another perspective on this is just to be very mindful about the influence of the people surrounding you. You might not be around the most skillful people, but you can watch how they effect you. You don't have to be like them.

-M

This is so true.Often in our place of work we are surrounded by all types of people, this cannot be helped, and quitting and getting another job is not so easy these days.
With metta
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
Lost in space
And meaning

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JimKai
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby JimKai » Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:41 pm

meindzai wrote:Another perspective on this is just to be very mindful about the influence of the people surrounding you. You might not be around the most skillful people, but you can watch how they effect you. You don't have to be like them.

-M

Sound advice :namaste:

Having these people around you and treating them with equanimity can actually do a lot for your practice.

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Stephen K
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby Stephen K » Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:53 pm

Thank you all for the replies!

I feel, though, that my question has not been directly addressed.

The question was: "How do we avoid the foolish and yet at the same time show compassion for them?"


Let me be more specific. There is a certain woman working in my parents' hotel business. Let's just say she is very stupid, depraved and suffering from chronic depression. According to the Buddha we should avoid such people. But what if we can't avoid these people? What do I do? Arrange to have her fired? Try and stay away from her and/or not greet her? And how do I combine avoiding her and at the same time show compassion for this unfortunate person? What if she commits suicide? If that happens, wouldn't others put the blame on me for having shunned her? You see, she makes all the people around her suffer!
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby bodom » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:31 pm

Let me be more specific. There is a certain woman working in my parents' hotel business. Let's just say she is very stupid, depraved and suffering from chronic depression. According to the Buddha we should avoid such people. But what if we can't avoid these people? What do I do? Arrange to have her fired? Try and stay away from her and/or not greet her? And how do I combine avoiding her and at the same time show compassion for this unfortunate person? What if she commits suicide? If that happens, wouldn't others put the blame on me for having shunned her? You see, she makes all the people around her suffer!


Do you provide this woman with health insurance so that she can seek help for her chronic depression? As an employer you have duties to your employees:

"In five ways should a master minister to his servants and employees as the Nadir:

(i) by assigning them work according to their ability,
(ii) by supplying them with food and with wages,
(iii) by tending them in sickness,
(iv) by sharing with them any delicacies,
(v) by granting them leave at times. - DN 31


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Monkey Mind
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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:47 pm

The teachings you referenced were actually a big help for me in my efforts to be more compassionate. The best I can do with "fools" is lead by example, and not become attached to a certain outcome with them. I can be present, comforting, provide guidance when asked, but I should not expect a leopard to change it's spots. For "fools", compassion is more like drops is a bucket, it might take a awhile to fill up.

An example: A coworker of mine is an awful gossip. I have suggested to her that she should be careful with her words, but that did not result in any change. When I learned that I was the subject of her gossip, and she was telling lies about me, I confronted her directly. She made excuses for her behavior, but she is still a gossip. Now when I am in the lunchroom and she is there, I engage her in pleasant conversation when I can, but the moment she starts in on the gossip I excuse myself. Other coworkers have started to follow my example. If I remained obsessed with "helping" her, I would only become frustrated in my efforts.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

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Re: Avoidance and Compassion

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:59 pm

Stefan wrote:Thank you all for the replies!

I feel, though, that my question has not been directly addressed.

The question was: "How do we avoid the foolish and yet at the same time show compassion for them?"


Let me be more specific. There is a certain woman working in my parents' hotel business. Let's just say she is very stupid, depraved and suffering from chronic depression. According to the Buddha we should avoid such people. But what if we can't avoid these people? What do I do? Arrange to have her fired? Try and stay away from her and/or not greet her? And how do I combine avoiding her and at the same time show compassion for this unfortunate person? What if she commits suicide? If that happens, wouldn't others put the blame on me for having shunned her? You see, she makes all the people around her suffer!


Hi Stefan,

I think there is a difference between 'stonewalling' someone and the teaching of avoiding 'fools'. It is important to keep in mind, one of the known sufferings of the world is having to keep the company of people we dislike. So when we are in the company of someone who could be a bad influence- just associate them in a way that doesnt allow them to influence you or your behaviour (or your friends, if appropriate). This is not a teaching to develop aversion or anger towards them, or bring harm to them (by firing for example).

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha


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