Is compassion dualistic?

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Is compassion dualistic?

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:02 am

Buddhists (and in particular Vajrayana Buddhists), say that ultimately there is only love and hence subsequently compassion or loving kindness. But surely this is another example of conventional truth rather than ultimate truth. It assumes the existence of subject and object, otherwise who or what would there be to have compassion for? Things only exist by virtue of their relation to other things. This is conventional truth. In reality, there are no things, there is only 'this'. 'That which is'. And that which is, is not. To think of 'that which is' as this or that, is also conventional truth.
I've read that compassion arises spontaneously from insight/wisdom, but why should this seemingly dualistic emotion arise from the realisation of the non-dualistic nature of reality? The two appear to be mutually incompatible.
For what reason does compassion arise? For whom or what does the compassion pertain to within this non-dual reality? It just seems contradictory somehow.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.
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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby chownah » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:33 am

You posted:
I've read that compassion arises spontaneously from insight/wisdom, but why should this seemingly dualistic emotion arise from the realisation of the non-dualistic nature of reality? The two appear to be mutually incompatible.
For what reason does compassion arise? For whom or what does the compassion pertain to within this non-dual reality? It just seems contradictory somehow.

I would say that the compassion has arisen because of an insight into the non-dualistic nature of reality and not because of some attainment other than an understanding or insight......as you said compassion arises spontaneously from insight/wisdom. My view is that the compassion is not being experienced from within the experience of non-dualism but rather from a more worldly experience and so it is experienced by who or what usually experiences compassion and the compassion is directed toward the who or what compassion is directed toward.

More briefly, my view is that there is a difference between understanding that nature is non-dual and having your experience based on nature as non-dual.
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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:58 am

Greetings,

Can we not just have compassion for suffering?

Need we define the relationship that the suffering has in relation to some ontological fixture?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:05 am

cherrytigerbarb wrote:It just seems contradictory somehow.


Maybe because of thinking that the compassion is yours, or as though you are giving it? There may be problems with that, but there is the fact of it being one person and another person. That sort of 'dualism' isn't a problem.

Additionally, while perhaps not traditional, I would suggest ignoring conventional/ultimate distinctions altogether. That sort of dualism, it seems to me, is indeed problematic.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:45 am

I've been studying the Diamond Sutra in the last few days (yes, I know it's not accepted as part of Theravada), and have been relieved to find that it confirms everything I've come to believe regarding our use of concepts. In particular, in many instances the logic used takes the form of A, is not A, but named 'A'. In other words, there are no things, only the names given to things. Things only exist by virtue of their relationship to other things. There is an interdependent causal relationship, such things usually being described using the term 'conditioned', as opposed to reality free from concepts, which is termed the 'unconditioned'. When we fall back on our use of concepts, this is working within the framework of conventional (or relative) truth, whereas if we wish to approach things with the understanding that concepts are impermanent mental formations, then we are working within the framework of ultimate (or absolute) truth. So, the logic in the Diamond sutra can then be understood as "A, is not A" (conventional truth), "but named 'A'" (ultimate truth). Now, as far as compassion is concerned, I can appreciate that this falls within the framework of dualistic conventional/relative truth, and that we can apply it to our consideration regarding non-dual ultimate/absolute truth. This is valid since compassion and indeed all the other emotions could only not-be, if we were somehow able to escape from living within the framework of conventional/relative truth. This is clearly not possible, since the complete abandonment of concepts would render the world meaningless, and it would not be possible to function on any level higher than that of a new born baby. This is the reason why we are encouraged not to stifle our emotions as they occur, but rather allow them to be, whilst simply witnessing their arising and subsequent passing away without attachment. (Coupled with the knowledge that they are unsatisfactory and conceptual in nature). So, whilst not being able to abandon conventional truth, we can continue to operate from within it, with the simultaneous knowledge that from the wider perspective, reality is in the form of non-dual ultimate truth, free from concepts. Now it has also been argued that we shouldn't waste time thinking about these things, since it is just more conceptualising, and instead we should put all our time and effort into the practice of sitting. However, we know the Buddha was keen for us to exercise our powers of investigation in order to determine for ourselves what is true and what is not true, based on whether it seems reasonable. There is no such thing as blind faith in Buddhism, which as an atheist and a sceptic, is one of things which originally attracted me to it in the first place. That said, it remains vitally important to sit in order to inspire an understanding of ultimate truth at the experiential level, rather than just knowing it intellectually.
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.
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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby ricebowl » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:16 pm

cherrytigerbarb wrote:I've been studying the Diamond Sutra in the last few days (yes, I know it's not accepted as part of Theravada), and have been relieved to find that it confirms everything I've come to believe regarding our use of concepts.

I'll keep it simple.
Dualism in a nutshell: "this" and "that".
This is compassion. That is wisdom.
This is compassion in Theravada tradition. That is wisdom in Theravada tradition.
This is compassion in other tradition(s). That is wisdom in other tradition(s).
This is Buddha. That is Mara.
This is Buddha. That is Devadatta.
This is right. That is wrong.
This is wholesome. That is evil.
These are noble ones. Those are lay people.

When dualism comes to a certain point, it breaks out into other conceptual lines of thinking, and it ain't the Buddha's fault, the Diamond Sutra is just one of these. When He is just one solo person by Himself, He teaches as accorded with the audience that approaches Him. Comes to a certain point of time when an entire group of community approaches Him from sravakas to laypeople to kings and extraordinaires, other issues beckoned then. There are the issues of dualism. There are also the issues of non-dualism (see Vimalakirti). Closely related to dualism is object-subject relatively (see Shurangama in that case). The Mahayana Sutras such as the Diamond and Heart Sutras deal with a whole bunch of predicates.

Back to Theravada tradition once again. The highest realm of meditative existence is at best the Realm of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception. That too is dualistic. A meditator used to peceive and also non-perceive, comes to a certain juncture he no longer perceives and no longer non-perceives. Again, this and that.

:jawdrop: Cause and effect. Again also dualism.

Can be quite cool to the uninitiated. Can be really bombastic to the linguistically inclined.
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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:31 pm

Hi Cherry Tiger Barb,

I think the better questions to ask is if the compassion could be a good thing, or not? Is it something skillful, or not? Could it be seen as blameworthy by someone else, or not? (If yes, by who?) Is it a wise thing to try aim for within my practice, or unwise? These kind of questions are probably more productive...

:anjali:
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Re: Is compassion dualistic?

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:29 pm

When you take away the notions of gaining and losing in human interactions, compassion is whats left. Its a fundamental property. Its not reasonable or rational. Reasonable and rational are obscurations.
It would be better as a verb tho i agree, nouns can be confusing in cases like this.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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