Amended: What Makes Loving-Kindness & Compassion?
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"View > Encoding > Unicode / Chinese Simplified"Forwww.TheDailyEnlightenment.comWhat Makes Loving-Kindness & Compassion?
Reflecting on the Chinese characters for "Loving-Kindness" (Ci) and "Compassion" (Bei) above (which are often used together), I was wondering how they came to be... and came up with this theory...
The character "Ci" comprises of two other characters - "Zi" and "Xin", which means "Here/Now" and "Heart/Mind" respectively. This suggests that "Loving-Kindness" in Buddhism, which is the "wish for all beings to have happiness and the causes of happiness", is essentially "our heart and mind here and now" - it is our natural state of mind/heart. In other words, in ordinary conditions, we would have Loving-Kindness for all beings. Loving-Kindness in this sense is relatively passive.
It is interesting to note from the Chinese language that the Chinese do not culturally separate the definitions of "Heart" and "Mind", or the emotional and rational aspects of our being. This is evident in the usage of the same character for both "Heart" and "Mind". When we are able to reconcile these two often conflicting aspects into one, we achieve spiritual harmony for ourselves.
The character "Bei" comprises of two other characters - "Bei" and "Xin", which means "Extraordinary/Not" and "Heart/Mind" respectively. This suggests that "Compassion" in Buddhism, which is the "wish (and action) for all beings to be liberated from suffering and the causes of suffering", is essentially "our extraordinary heart and mind" - it is our state of mind/heart which arises in less ordinary conditions, that is, when we see suffering in others (and ourselves). In other words, in these extraordinary conditions, we would have Compassion for all beings. Compassion in this sense is relatively pro/active.
Another interesting possibility of the meaning of "Bei" and "Xin" together is "Not heart/mind". This suggests that Compassion is that which arises when there is no sense of one's own heart/mind; when there is no sense of one's self, no sense of separation from others you see in suffering. This means Compassion is natural selfless - or it would not be Compassion, or it would not be able to arise.
Isn't the meaning wonderful when you piece the meaning of these two complementing characters together? It would mean this - "We naturally have Loving-Kindness here and now in normal conditions, but when we see suffering, we will give rise to extraordinary selfless Compassion to help." May we abide in Loving-Kindness now. May we give rise to Compassion whenever necessary. May all beings be well and happy, and free from suffering always. -Shen Shi'an