is compassion deluded?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
delora
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:08 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

is compassion deluded?

Postby delora » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:38 am

this might be a common question, but is compassion deluded?

often generating compassion leads me to believe the best in people, when in hindsight, the best, clearly hasn't fitted in to their motivations.

in my experience, compassion feels good, and increases tolerance in hostile environments (it seems), but it may lead to you being blind to the hostility around you. Am i 'right' in thinking this?

how to practise compassion then?

User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 2713
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:52 am

If you recognise that everybody is doing the best they can, given all the delusion they are labouring under including yourself, you would feel compassion.

This compassion does not preclude you from seeing people as they are (to the extent you are able to do so).

We all suffer, we all dig ourselves into the ground with our patterns of thought and action, this is why we are here.
_/|\_

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 10827
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: New Zealand

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:55 am

Hi delora,

I'm not sure what definition you are using for compassion. Is it the Buddhist concept of karuna?
See:
http://www.mahindarama.com/correspondence/basic2-13.htm
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... ma_Viharas
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Karuna

From the first link:
2. Karuna

Compassion, peace and harmless thought, willing to bear the pain of others.

Karuna should be practiced with wisdom (panna). It is a thought of peace and harmlessness meant to reduce the pain of other fellow beings that are not so fortunate compared to oneself.

At the height of this practice, one might even go to the extent of sacrificing one’s own life to alleviate the suffering of others. It has the characteristic of a loving mother whose thought; words and deeds always tend to release the distress of her sick child.

The purpose of Karuna is to help eliminate the element of cruelty. The cultivation of Karuna is not just talking but action counts. Compassion is the motivating factor for the making of a Bodhisatta Vow.

One must be able to differentiate that karuna is not the feeling of emotionally upset by the suffering of others as pity or grief. Compassion is normally motivated by visual contact. Karuna like the other three virtues in the Brahma Viharas is a positive mental quality.

Its near enemy is pity, grief or feeling sad and emotionally upset by the suffering of others. Its far enemy is cruelty, the wilful infliction of pain and suffering on others.

Note that there are four Brahma Viharas, and they tend to help balance and support each other. In particular, equanimity (Upekkha) is crucial to not becoming overwhelmed by the problems of others, realising that they, not you, have responsibility for their actions.

:anjali:
Mike

unspoken
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:41 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby unspoken » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:18 pm

In my opinion, it's similar to the post that mikenz66 posted from a quote from sutta or from the abhidhamma or so. I'm sorry that now I don't know much about suttas in tipitaka cause I did not officially went to a shrine to learn dhamma or study under a monk.

Compassion in my personal view that it must be used with wisdom. Loving-kindness, compassion, rejoicing in other's success and tranquility is the 4 sublime attitudes that we should develop and cultivate and taught by the Buddha. Loving-kindness is like a process, rejoicing is like a success, tranquility is the final end, while compassion is the "starter".

[explanation]----> We need compassion to generate the heart to love a person, it's like a starter of a lamp. Loving kindness is like the bulb, which is like a process of giving light. Rejoicing in other's success or wealth is like a bonus given by the bulb which is heat to keep us warm. And tranquility is like the switch, the last step which determine to on or off the light. To provide or not to provide. Untouched whether you giving away light and heat or not giving any energy. Similar to meditation, we need to have some basic knowledge or some rough comprehend beforehand we do it so that we know how to do it. So compassion will never lead to any...problems if you handle it with wisdom.

[conclusion]---> Compassion trigger loving kindness, loving kindness triggers "rejoicing in other's success", act of rejoice will trigger tranquility. And tranquility will determine the compassion as tranquility will rise wisdom. All is connected, if you do not have any wisdom yet, there will be some risk to take as everything have their own risk. Build it through meditation or wish them with compassion will help you through the problems

Thanks for mikenz66 for your valuable info on karuna. And I am happy that what I think is compatible and same as the dhamma, which means I'm on the right track :smile:

Sukhi Hotu

User avatar
SDC
Posts: 1058
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: North Jersey

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby SDC » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:55 pm

delora wrote:this might be a common question, but is compassion deluded?

often generating compassion leads me to believe the best in people, when in hindsight, the best, clearly hasn't fitted in to their motivations.

in my experience, compassion feels good, and increases tolerance in hostile environments (it seems), but it may lead to you being blind to the hostility around you. Am i 'right' in thinking this?

how to practise compassion then?


Interesting question.

From my understanding and experience, I don't think of compassion necessarily having to do with thinking about the best in people. I think it has to do with having a genuine concern for the welfare of others no matter what good or bad qualities they are capable of. Of course thinking good thoughts about others could help you develop that concern, but if you are constantly convincing yourself that all people have good qualities and you are constantly focusing on this, I think it can be delusive, and could cause you to put yourself in harms way. And the same goes for focusing in on all the possible bad qualities others may be capable of. If you want to learn about another person, best to just look at what qualities they display, but be careful of the tendency to believe those qualities are permanent no matter what happens.

If certain conditions are present, people are capable of a wide array of good and bad qualities. The seemingly best person may be capable of very cruel behavior and the seemingly worst person may be capable of the most helpful and kind behavior. It all depends. This complex conditioned nature of reality can be very difficult and painful to endure. As Dan74 already pointed out, that knowledge should help you develop a deep concern not only for yourself, but for all beings, because we are all in the same boat in this regard.

I hope this helps.

User avatar
Fede
Posts: 1182
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:33 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: The Heart of this "Green & Pleasant Land"...
Contact:

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby Fede » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:34 am

delora wrote:this might be a common question, but is compassion deluded?

Compassion isn't anything. If there is delusion, it is you who feels deluded.....

often generating compassion leads me to believe the best in people, when in hindsight, the best, clearly hasn't fitted in to their motivations.

Then this is Idiot Compassion, not Wise Compassion.
idiot Compassion has motives based on our own ego's desire to see an outcome. Wise Compassion is projected for the benefit of all beings, and seeks to enable, not fix.


in my experience, compassion feels good, and increases tolerance in hostile environments (it seems), but it may lead to you being blind to the hostility around you. Am i 'right' in thinking this?

It's your thinking that makes the Compassion flawed, because you seek payback of a kind.
how to practise compassion then?

For the liberation from suffering, for all beings, including you.
If that means being harsh or stern with others, that's still compassion.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

User avatar
Ytrog
Posts: 693
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:50 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: The Netherlands, near Arnhem
Contact:

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby Ytrog » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:34 am

For the liberation from suffering, for all beings, including you.
If that means being harsh or stern with others, that's still compassion.


Being harsh or stern can learn other people valuable lessons too. With the right motivation this is indeed a form of compassion. A real friend will sometimes point to someones flaws in order to enable them to better themselves.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.

User avatar
Spiny O'Norman
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 8:46 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Suffolk, England

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:48 am

delora wrote:how to practise compassion then?


For me it's about realising that nobody wants to suffer. And trying to see how things really are.

Spiny

User avatar
Spiny O'Norman
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 8:46 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Suffolk, England

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:44 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
delora wrote:how to practise compassion then?


For me it's about realising that nobody wants to suffer. And trying to see how things really are.

Spiny


To express this more clearly, I'd say that gaining some insight into the First Noble Truth is a sound basis for developing compassion.

Spiny

5heaps
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby 5heaps » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:10 pm

delora wrote:but is compassion deluded?

realistic compassion comes out of the understanding that everyone wants happiness and noone wants suffering. any deviation from this is unrealistic and leads to destructive views and actions.

it takes skill to have compassion, which is to say, it takes skill to be realistic and rational. so, just because sometimes we fall into unrealistic compassion doesnt mean we shouldnt keep working and analyzing it

a good book on this is How to See Yourself as You Really Are by the dalai lama (audio book available too, its great)
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

Hoo
Posts: 189
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:24 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Missouri, USA

Re: is compassion deluded?

Postby Hoo » Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:23 pm

Ytrog wrote:
For the liberation from suffering, for all beings, including you.
If that means being harsh or stern with others, that's still compassion.


Being harsh or stern can learn other people valuable lessons too. With the right motivation this is indeed a form of compassion. A real friend will sometimes point to someones flaws in order to enable them to better themselves.


I see that said quite a bit on this forum, but not on the others that I frequent. I recently 'discovered' the Sallekha Sutta: The Discourse on Effacement. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.008.nypo.html It seems to speak specifically against such a practice as harshness and I wonder how those who advocate it can do so in light of these instructions?

Sorry for the long post but here is the specific excerpt that struck me when I read this Sutta....

EFFACEMENT

12. "But herein, Cunda, effacement should be practiced by you:[16]

(1) Others will be harmful; we shall not be harmful here — thus effacement can be done.[17]
(2) Others will kill living beings; we shall abstain from killing living beings here — thus effacement can be done.
(3) Others will take what is not given; we shall abstain from taking what is not given here — thus effacement can be done.
(4) Others will be unchaste; we shall be chaste here — thus effacement can be done.
(5) Others will speak falsehood; we shall abstain from false speech here — thus effacement can be done.
(6) Others win speak maliciously; we shall abstain from malicious speech here — thus effacement can be done.
(7) Others will speak harshly; we shall abstain from harsh speech here — thus effacement can be done.
(8) Others will gossip; we shall abstain from gossip here — thus effacement can be done.
(9) Others will be covetous; we shall not be covetous here — thus effacement can be done.
(10) Others will have thoughts of ill will; we shall not have thoughts of ill will here — thus effacement can be done.
(11) Others will have wrong views; we shall have right view here — thus effacement can be done.
(12) Others will have wrong intention; we shall have right intention here — thus effacement can be done.
(13) Others will use wrong speech; we shall use right speech here — thus effacement can be done.
(14) Others will commit wrong actions; we shall do right actions here — thus effacement can be done.
(15) Others will have wrong livelihood; we shall have right livelihood here — thus effacement can be done.
(16) Others will make wrong effort; we shall make right effort here — thus effacement can be done.
(17) Others will have wrong mindfulness; we shall have right mindfulness here — thus effacement can be done.
(18) Others will have wrong concentration; we shall have right concentration here — thus effacement can be done.
(19) Others will have wrong knowledge; we shall have right knowledge here — thus effacement can be done.
(20) Others will have wrong deliverance; we shall have right deliverance here — thus effacement can be done.
(21) Others will be overcome by sloth and torpor; we shall be free from sloth and torpor here — thus effacement can be done.
(22) Others will be agitated; we shall be unagitated here — thus effacement can be done.
(23) Others will be doubting; we shall be free from doubt here — thus effacement can be done.
(24) Others will be angry; we shall not be angry here — thus effacement can be done.
(25) Others will be hostile; we shall not be hostile here — thus effacement can be done.
(26) Others will denigrate; we shall not denigrate here — thus effacement can be done.
(27) Others will be domineering; we shall not be domineering here — thus effacement can be done.
(28) Others will be envious; we shall not be envious here — thus effacement can be done.
(29) Others will be jealous; we shall not be jealous here — thus effacement can be done.
(30) Others will be fraudulent; we shall not be fraudulent here — thus effacement can be done.
(31) Others will be hypocrites; we shall not be hypocrites here — thus effacement can be done.
(32) Others will be obstinate; we shall not be obstinate here — thus effacement can be done.
(33) Others will be arrogant; we shall not be arrogant here — thus effacement can be done.
(34) Others will be difficult to admonish; we shall be easy to admonish here — thus effacement can be done.
(35) Others will have bad friends; we shall have noble friends here — thus effacement can be done.
(36) Others will be negligent; we shall be heedful here — thus effacement can be done.
(37) Others will be faithless; we shall be faithful here — thus effacement can be done.
(38) Others will be shameless; we shall be shameful here — thus effacement can be done.
(39) Others will be without conscience; we shall have conscience here — thus effacement can be done.
(40) Others will have no learning; we shall be learned here — thus effacement can be done.
(41) Others will be idle; we shall be energetic here — thus effacement can be done.
(42) Others will be lacking in mindfulness; we shall be established in mindfulness here — thus effacement can be done.
(43) Others will be without wisdom; we shall be endowed with wisdom — thus effacement can be done.
(44) Others will misapprehend according to their individual views, hold on to them tenaciously and not easily discard them;[18] we shall not misapprehend according to individual views nor hold on to them tenaciously, but shall discard them with ease — thus effacement can be done.

I understand speaking sternly with a real friend. But that does not require harshness. I would think respect would allow words to be heard more clearly. I doubt if anyone in an internet forum is considered close enough to allow harsh speech.

Is there a Sutta reference that speaks differently about harshness? Otherwise harshness seems to be specifically spoken against by the Buddha and IMHO probably shouldn't be in a practice/act of compassion. I don't see how it can be justified in the Buddha's teachings.

Hoo


Return to “Theravāda for the modern world”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests