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Venerable Thrangu on compassion

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  • Sharon Werner
    The importance of love and compassion is not an idea that is particular to Buddhism. Everyone throughout the world talks about the importance of love and
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2010
      "The importance of love and compassion is not an idea that is
      particular to Buddhism. Everyone throughout the world talks about the
      importance of love and compassion. There's no one who says love and
      compassion are bad and we should try and get rid of them. However,
      there is an uncommon element in the method or approach which is taken
      to these by Buddhism. In general, when we think of compassion, we
      think of a natural or spontaneous sympathy or empathy which we
      experience when we perceive the suffering of someone else. And we
      generally think of compassion as being a state of pain, of sadness,
      because you see the suffering of someone else and you see what's
      causing that suffering and you know you can't do anything to remove
      the cause of that suffering and therefore the suffering itself. So,
      whereas before you generated compassion, one person was miserable,
      and after you generate compassion, two people are miserable. And this
      actually happens.

      "However, the approach [that the Buddhist tradition takes] to
      compassion is a little bit different, because it's founded on the
      recognition that, whether or not you can benefit that being or that
      person in their immediate situation and circumstances, you can
      generate the basis for their ultimate benefit. And the confidence in
      that removes the frustration or the misery which otherwise somehow
      afflicts ordinary compassion. So, when compassion is cultivated in
      that way, it is experienced as delightful rather than miserable.

      "The way that we cultivate compassion is called immeasurable
      compassion. And, in fact, to be precise, there are four aspects of
      what we would, in general, call compassion, that are called,
      therefore, the four immeasurables. Now, normally, when we think of
      something that's called immeasurable, we mean immeasurably vast.
      Here, the primary connotation of the term is not vastness but
      impartiality. And the point of saying immeasurable compassion is
      compassion that is not going to help one person at the expense of
      hurting another. It is a compassion that is felt equally for all
      beings.

      "The basis of the generation of such an impartial compassion is the
      recognition of the fact that all beings without exception really want
      and don't want the same things. All beings, without exception, want
      to be happy and want to avoid suffering. There is no being anywhere
      who really wants to suffer. And if you understand that, and to the
      extent that you understand that, you will have the intense wish that
      all beings be free from suffering. And there is no being anywhere who
      does not want to be happy; and if you understand that, and to the
      extent that you understand that, you will have the intense wish that
      all beings actually achieve the happiness that they wish to achieve.
      Now, because the experience of happiness and freedom from suffering
      depend upon the generation of the causes of these, then the actual
      form your aspiration takes is that all beings possess not only
      happiness but the causes of happiness, that they not only be free of
      suffering but of the causes of suffering."

      "With this understanding of what Buddhists mean when they talk about
      compassion, we can proceed to consider Chenrezig as an embodiment of
      boundless loving kindness and compassion."

      ~ excerpted from The Reason We Practice Meditation, by Venerable
      Thrangu (the entire article can be found at
      http://www.rinpoche.com/reason.html)





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