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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...
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.
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.