TMingyur wrote:It is more consistent to say that compassion arises due to two reasons:
1. observation of suffering that is even known as "suffering" "in the world" (worldly suffering)
2. projection of one's own suffering onto others. If one would not know "suffering" through one's own experience then one could not assume "suffering of others" because one would not know what "suffering" means.
Essentially there are three categories of suffering: 1. the suffering of suffering (dukha-dukha) ie the suffering of pain, death, birth, sickness, sorrow, etc... 2. the suffering of change (viparinama-dukha) ie the suffering that occurs when one goes from a pleasant sensation to a neutral or painful sensation or more generally the suffering that arises because we cling to situation as if they are permanent when in fact they are impermanent. 3. all pervasive suffering (sankhara-dukha) which is the suffering that arises as a consequence of our cling to the five aggregates as though they are a truly existing self.
Due to the fact that we have been born, died and reborn countless times, chances are that we have experienced all forms of suffering (this goes for all sentient beings of course) so there is no reason to "project" anything on anyone anywhere. (On the contrary) In Tonglen practice, the practitoners first task is to "get in touch" (yes, it does sound new-age) with their own suffering and use this as the basis through which they understand that all sentient beings suffer in exactly the same manner (apparently they do). On that basis they then try to train their mind with the thought that: "all beings, like me, are suffering and wish to be free of their suffering, I will be the medium through which all beings overcome their suffering". The emphasis is on the "all" as we do not want to discriminate between beings we like and those we dislike. The practitioner then tries to take in all the suffering of all sentient beings and transform it, through the "power" of wisdom, into its opposite: the joy that is beyond the extremes of aversion and attraction.
This is all, of course, at the relative "worldly" level since that is the level that we are currently able to perceive/conceive of.
Dukkha Sutta: Stress
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
On one occasion Ven. Sariputta was staying in Magadha in Nalaka Village. Then Jambukhadika the wanderer went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After this exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. Sariputta: "'Stress, stress,' it is said, my friend Sariputta. Which type of stress [are they referring to]?"
"There are these three forms of stressfulness, my friend: the stressfulness of pain, the stressfulness of fabrication, the stressfulness of change. These are the three forms of stressfulness."
"But is there a path, is there a practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness?"
"Yes, there is a path, there is a practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness."
"Then what is the path, what is the practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness?"
"Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path, my friend — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the path, this is the practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness."
"It's an auspicious path, my friend, an auspicious practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness — enough for the sake of heedfulness."