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The Practice of Compassion

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  • manjusrilotus
    This is good and just the right timing ...... here is this months offering from The Daily Zen Journal ...... Just as Zen doesn t soar above the need for
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 23, 2003
      This is good and just the right timing ...... here is this months
      offering from The Daily Zen Journal ...... Just as Zen doesn't
      soar above the need for Compassion neither does

      The Practice of Compassion
      — Ji Aoi Isshi

      Some mistakenly think that zen soars high above any need for
      compassion. Don't be one of them. Since I have compassion for
      you, I'll try to set you straight on this point right now! Open your

      Universally in Buddhism, and Zen as well, we find the ideal of
      Compassion firmly entrenched. Compassion is personified in
      Buddhism by the bodhisattva Kannon, who is the "Hearer of
      Cries" of all the suffering in the world. When we too decide to
      listen and become receptive to the ubiquitous suffering, we
      become another ear of the Hearer. When we are further moved
      to compassion via this receptivity, we then become as an arm of
      the bodhisattva, ready to turn compassion into action, utter the
      compassionate word, or simply send our loving kindness
      radiating toward all beings.

      Compassion provides us with a concrete way to make the world
      a better place, and this alone is entirely worth its development.
      Everyone recognizes the innate value of kindness. This is not
      news. After death, a compassionate person is lauded: "Her
      kindness touched all who met her" "His compassion healed
      many wounds." Very seldom do we read on a tombstone how
      clever someone was, or how rich or successful! Kindness,
      however, seems to touch a universal chord in us all. It's hard to
      imagine a world devoid of the simple, powerful trait of

      In Zen, wisdom (prajna) is often made out to be king. But if that is
      true, then it is compassion that is the sole queen of zen, and no
      less important at all. Perhaps that is why Avalokiteshvara
      morphed from male to female over the course of centuries, in
      order to express this steady, unwavering compassion akin to a
      mother's love for her child. Strength and wisdom are completed
      by the addition of compassion and are not necessarily positive
      traits by themselves.

      The pure act of compassion provides us with a powerful, twofold
      means of practice. It is both a means of turning emptiness into
      form by giving (dana) toward all sentient beings while realizing at
      the same time the Buddhist principle that there is no set rigid
      identity; and it is also a means of turning form into emptiness by
      overcoming the "form" of the ego (ours!), when we ourselves
      forget that very same principle (anatta)!

      When we suffer due to our own deluded view of "self" it does no
      good at all to tell us that there is really no one there to suffer. I
      hurt, therefore I am! Conversely, when we are able to turn form
      into emptiness by leaping over ourselves and our petty sense of
      "me and mine," then we are truly practicing a tangible form of zen
      compassion. Jumping over ourselves, we save all sentient
      beings; jumping over our pride, we save all sentient beings;
      jumping over our own difficult situations, we save all sentient
      beings! Only to the extent that we're able to jump over our limited
      sense of self for the sake of others do we gain in the tangible
      power of the Way; the power of virtue.

      To whatever extent that we discover this innate, universal
      compassion, our own troubles proportionately shrink. And to the
      extent that we share in this power, shrinking our estimation of
      our own troubles, we can remain serene in the face of life's
      inevitable hardships. And of course, becoming compassionate,
      powerful and serene we then have more to give to others. We
      become benefactors whose fortune is in the currency of
      kindness. Thus, the cycle of compassion turns and becomes
      exceedingly deep and strong. And so incidentally, without greed
      for our own growth, our practice becomes just as deep and

      So, within the Bodhisattva ideal of compassion lies a two fold
      path for deepening our practice while helping others bear the
      unavoidable burdens of life on this plane. Thus the world
      becomes a concretely better place, by just that much more
      compassion. In a world where might becomes justification, this
      balm of kindness is more necessary than ever before. Then,
      over and over, day in and day out, the continuity of this powerful
      practice of compassion unfolds, drawing us deeper into actually
      seeing the essential emptiness of our own ego while leading
      others still clinging to that illusory view to a newfound place of
      buoyancy and strength. Exponentially, candles light other
      candles, endlessly supplying light and care to all.

      I vow to save all sentient beings, even though there are no
      separate individualities!

      Make sense? No, not really… except through the heart of
      compassion — then it does! There we surpass the definition
      and discover Being in the bargain. The value of compassion in
      today's world is obvious; and the value of the practice of
      compassion is a two way street of depth without which zen
      practice might become merely a selfish charade.

      May all beings be happy and may they then share that happiness
      with others via the twofold action of compassion!

      — Ji Aoi Isshi

      Sometimes Compassion is in sharing the hard things and being
      willing to take the blows for doing so......... Love is being the
      Good Friend not the one that simply agrees with you blindly.......
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