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18796The Three Types of Compassion

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Mar 14, 2014
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      The Three Types of Compassion

      by Lama Gelek Gyatso


      In the general teachings of the Mahayana there are three types of Compassion each more profound then the previous type.

      1. Outer Compassion: This kind of compassion is the kind we feel when we see someone suffering. When we look at the world and see the many negative, destructive acts human do to each other. We can't help but feel Compassion for the victims and of course some indignation particularly if we think some group of humans are quite purposely creating suffering for others groups. Also fear that we might be the next victim or that someone is going to become so negative and powerful that the whole situation will get beyond any control. The correct thing to do is to separate our compassion from our reaction of anger and fear, anger and fear are the reasons for this kind of thing in the first place only Compassion will lead us out of the valley of the shadow.

      2. Inner Compassion: This kind of Compassion takes into account the situation of Samsara as a whole. It results from looking at the world and seeing the interconnectedness of suffering and confusion, desire, and hatred. The interconnectedness of all confused beings with each other. We gain a little perspective on those negative actions we can see them in the context of all the suffering that has ever occurred and we see the suffering that is Karmically in store for all of us as Samsaric beings. This should engender in us the desire to end this cycle of confusion-- suffering, suffering-- confusion. If we think we can do some outward thing that will fundamentally change this situation we are being naive, most of the negative actions are attempts to change things based on, perceived injustice, self righteous indignation, and self cherishing paranoia. Instead we should use our ability to have the first kind of Compassion to soften our self-clinging which is the inner form of confusion. We can combine these two Compassions to inspire us to strive toward the cessation of confusion in all beings. We see the fruition suffering and the cause of suffering and the whole situation of suffering. Enlightenment is the solution to suffering but for suffering to really cease all beings must become Enlightened, by our own Enlightenment we will be able to use the Wisdom of Enlightenment to help others to become Enlightened. So by our striving to become Enlightened we are doing one of the best things we can possibly do to heal the situation. It is a matter of focusing on method.

      3. Non-referential Compassion: This highest type of Compassion is the Compassion of Enlightened beings. Their Compassion is totally integrated into their experience it doesn't require a view of anything to occur it needs no reference points it is spontaneous. So it is said "Avalokiteshvara doesn't have Compassion he is Compassion." The Compassion of Enlightened beings uses the Wisdom of Enlightenment to do whatever can be done just spontaneously. So the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas appear in this world when we are at a point that they can benefit us. And of course we in turn resolve to become Enlightened beings and so on..... only thus will suffering really cease.


      Lama Gelek Gyatso is a Lama of the Shangpa Kagyu and Karma Kagyu lineages of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition known as the Vajrayana. 

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