Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

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Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:10 pm

Is it possible to exhibit extreme compassion for one particular group of sentient beings in this world to help them in their worldly suffering, at the risk of overall bodhicitta (if I use the word correctly)? Can one perform work as a nurse, child or homeless welfare worker, animal rescuer, out of extreme compassion for them, and yet maintain the bodhisattva vow out of compassion for all sentient beings? That is, is it wrong to "specialize" in this world, and feel their pain and want to help? Or is this a totally stupid question?
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:42 pm

Jainarayan wrote:Is it possible to exhibit extreme compassion for one particular group of sentient beings in this world to help them in their worldly suffering, at the risk of overall bodhicitta (if I use the word correctly)? Can one perform work as a nurse, child or homeless welfare worker, animal rescuer, out of extreme compassion for them, and yet maintain the bodhisattva vow out of compassion for all sentient beings? That is, is it wrong to "specialize" in this world, and feel their pain and want to help? Or is this a totally stupid question?


You can aspire to reduce the pain of everything through helping reduce the pain of anyone. Reducing the pain of one being is like a pebble rippling, or like pouring good water into a dirty pool, it's expansive, not restrictive, it affects you, it affects them, and it has effects on things affected by you and them...you get what I mean;)

On just a level of how we think, maybe a similar thing is when someone you love dies you can feel the mundane grief of yourself, or you can transform this into the universal grief..transforming this kind of experience into Bodhicitta is part of the path, in my understanding at least.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:51 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote: You can aspire to reduce the pain of everything through helping reduce the pain of anyone. Reducing the pain of one being is like a pebble rippling, or like pouring good water into a dirty pool, it's expansive, not restrictive, it affects you, it affects them, and it has effects on things affected by you and them...you get what I mean;)


Thanks, I didn't think of it that way. :smile:

Btw, consider your quote stolen, er I mean "re-appropriated" :tongue: for future use.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:00 pm

Glad I actually made sense :)

Here's a Dhammapada verse I always recall:

"One should not think lightly of doing good, imagining 'A little will not affect me'; just as a water-jar is filled up by falling drops of rain, so also, the wise one is filled up with merit, by accumulating it little by little."

The thing is, the above applies to "outside" of you as well as "inside", since there is really no difference anyway.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:17 pm

Thanks, this makes me feel a whole lot better. I have a copy of the Dhammapada. Note to self: begin reading it.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby wisdom » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:51 pm

Its wrong from the ultimate point of view to have a preference of one being over another. For example, to have less compassion for someone because they are immoral. To have less compassion for them because they are not your friend. Or on the flipside, to have more compassion for someone just because you love them and they are your friend. The goal is unbiased, all pervading, spontaneous compassion for all beings with complete equanimity, not having preference about whether they are good or evil, a friend or an enemy.

So its not wrong to have compassion as a child welfare worker, its wrong to not have compassion for the parents who neglected the children in the first place and to therefore turn your back on them.
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:33 pm

wisdom wrote:Its wrong from the ultimate point of view to have a preference of one being over another. For example, to have less compassion for someone because they are immoral. To have less compassion for them because they are not your friend. Or on the flipside, to have more compassion for someone just because you love them and they are your friend. The goal is unbiased, all pervading, spontaneous compassion for all beings with complete equanimity, not having preference about whether they are good or evil, a friend or an enemy.


Agreed, which is not this case; what you mentioned comes under the heading of judgment as well as bias and prejudice, which we have no right to (I use "right" very liberally and loosely, but I think you know what I mean).

So its not wrong to have compassion as a child welfare worker, its wrong to not have compassion for the parents who neglected the children in the first place and to therefore turn your back on them.


Yes, this is the case. Though I must admit that one has to meditate hard, deeply and long to understand why people are abusers of children, the elderly and animals in order to exhibit that compassion. Or on the other hand, one actually has compassion for them because they commit such evil acts and will pay for them. That also causes us pain.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Feathers » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:44 pm

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

A friend was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he grew nearer, he noticed that the local native kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things out into the ocean. As my friend approached even closer, he noticed that the man was picking up starfish that had washed up on the beach, and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water. My friend was puzzled.
He approached the man and said. "Good evening, friend. I was wondering what you are doing."
"I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they'll die up here from lack of oxygen."
"I understand," my friend replied, "but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don't you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can't you see that you can't possibly make a difference?"
The local native smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, "Made a difference to that one!"


From http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/resources/heart_stories.html
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:56 pm

I just read that story earlier today, I love that one. I'm going to read the others. Thanks.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Quiet Heart » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:36 am

Jainarayan wrote:Is it possible to exhibit extreme compassion for one particular group of sentient beings in this world to help them in their worldly suffering, at the risk of overall bodhicitta (if I use the word correctly)? Can one perform work as a nurse, child or homeless welfare worker, animal rescuer, out of extreme compassion for them, and yet maintain the bodhisattva vow out of compassion for all sentient beings? That is, is it wrong to "specialize" in this world, and feel their pain and want to help? Or is this a totally stupid question?

---------------------------
There are MANY levels of "compassiom".
For example. comsider a mother with a hungry child and no money to feed that child as oppposed to a drug addict who only wants money to buy more drugs.
Clearly there is a moral choice there to make.
But that moral choice may NOT be yours to make....brcause you don't and can't know the ultimate results of your compassion, can you?
In the examples I gave, that drug addict coukd give up his addiction and later become a doctor that found a cure for a disease that saved many lives; while that hungry child may later grow up to become a mass killer.
But you can't tell that ahead of time, can you?
So, all you can do is make the best decision you can at the time with the best information you have at that time.
But as I said, there are many levels of "compassion", and you can't know the results of your "compassion".
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:49 am

That's all true Quiet Heart. So many things to consder, and so many things at work in the world. Thanks. :)
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:06 am

Jainarayan wrote:Is it possible to exhibit extreme compassion for one particular group of sentient beings in this world to help them in their worldly suffering, at the risk of overall bodhicitta (if I use the word correctly)? Can one perform work as a nurse, child or homeless welfare worker, animal rescuer, out of extreme compassion for them, and yet maintain the bodhisattva vow out of compassion for all sentient beings? That is, is it wrong to "specialize" in this world, and feel their pain and want to help? Or is this a totally stupid question?


If you have the view of no mental projections, mind very clear and vivid, and respond naturally with kindness and concern, that's the Buddha already, whichever context it may arise.
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:51 pm

Well, work needs to be done, but that is a very clear way to put it. Good to meditate on. Thanks.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:37 pm

It's quite simple: Limited compassion is better than no compassion. Unlimited compassion is better than limited compassion. No compassion is the pits.

Mother Theresa spent her whole life nursing lepers in India, was her compassion limited because she did not nurse all beings in the entire universe? We can only act to the extent of our capacity. Some peoples compassion may be limited to just throwing a piece of dry old bread to a mangey dog once a day, they are still gaining merit through their action. They should be congratulated for carrying out the action and be encouraged to expand it. They should not be frowned upon for not being "compassionate enough". It serves no purpose at all to do this.

Many of our prayers say that we rejoice in the positive actions of all sentient beings, no matter how minor they are.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:02 pm

I know, sometimes it's hard to remember we as individuals can't save the whole world, though we may want to. Mother Theresa and Father Damien served lepers and societal outcasts; some people try to save children; some, battered women; some, animals; some AIDS or cancer patients. I'll 'fess up why this came up... when I see tv commercials for the ASPCA, HSUS and St. Jude's Childrens' Hospital (the words "cancer" and "child" should never be used together :cry: ) my throat closes up and I start tearing up (it's a rare treat to see a 190 lb man-bear with tears in his eyes). I have to look away, but I've decided to do something. I won't say what, at the risk of losing merit and karma points. What I will say is that, and I know this is in the realm of fantasy , overly emotional (I get that way :emb: ) and may be self-aggrandizement (it's not meant to be, I really feel this way)... if I could somehow absorb all that pain and suffering from those children and animals, I would. I know that can't be, though. Hey, I didn't go to a two-year college for five years and not learn anything. :mrgreen: My concern was that these single points of focus were in some way "de-meritorious", but I see now that's not the case. I suppose maybe each of us is "assigned" a cause or group to help, but it doesn't negate or minimize our overall compassion. I think this is what I was looking to learn and understand.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby monktastic » Sat Feb 09, 2013 10:46 pm

This ad expresses my favorite idea ever, and one that others may appreciate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g3pE1bCZ68

I know it's probably not meant to be Buddhist, but my interpretation is that this man is a Bodhisattva. No huss and fuss, just going about his day quietly helping people whether they realize it or appreciate it at the time.

I know that's only vaguely related to what you ask, but that idea clarified a lot of things for me: with absolute bodhicitta there is no thought of doing good; all activity is the natural expression of compassion.

In the mean time, if helping a select group of people -- or even just one person -- is the natural expression of your compassion, then that is exactly what's right in this moment. If on your drive home you feel like forgiving angry drivers who "know not what they do," then keep that right on up! Maybe eventually there are no "gaps" where compassion is not being expressed, no matter how subtly. And maybe there's no longer anyone there to take credit for it, nor anything else that needs doing.

if I could somehow absorb all that pain and suffering from those children and animals, I would


This is a beautiful sentiment. Keep it up. :)
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:29 pm

Thanks monktastic. Drivers around here are horrible, green means go red means stop yellow means go very fast, I just take deep breath and say "bless their heart". I'm better for it. ;)
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby Jainarayan » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:36 pm

Btw that video was great. I love the expressions on the people's faces. :)
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby greentara » Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:42 am

Monktastic, "know it's probably not meant to be Buddhist, but my interpretation is that this man is a Bodhisattva. No fuss, just going about his day quietly helping people whether they realize it or appreciate it at the time"
I believe I have met a bodhisattva. He was not tall and cool like the guy in the film; instead he was middle aged, grizzled and used a rope for a belt to keep his shorts up and walked around in unlaced boots. He was from an upper middle class background but no one would have guessed it. He owned substantial stocks and shares with a well known consortium and when they had the annual general meeting my friend showed up. Well they wouldn't let him in, they thought he was 'homeless' until the misunderstanding was all ironed out and he was allowed to stay, very uncomfortable for those foolish people in charge. He had a broad knowledge of antiquarian books, and antiques in general. He taught himself Chinese and was a genuine scholar. He would sometimes buy a rare item from me but whatever I charged him he always wanted to pay more 'so I wouldn't shortchange myself'.
I knew him for many years before he could talk to me with ease, he was very shy, unassuming and humble and always spoke to everyone in the most respectful manner. If anyone was in trouble or needed help he would make huge efforts to be of assistance. He certainly helped me many times, if I had an obscure, knotty problem he would disappear to the library for days and come back with the correct answer or solution, he wouldn't charge for his valuable time, he was amazing.
He was quite taken with the books of Jiddhu Krishnamurti but admitted to me over coffee and sandwichs that Jiddhu's teachings were too hard for him to put into practice. I disagree, I felt he was a walking, talking proof of the teaching. Whilst Krishnamurti was quite elitist my friend was anything but that.
When I heard his sister had passed away I went to visit him in his small, modest shop, he was sitting on a low stool. I said how sorry I was and bent down to give him a kiss on the cheek. The look of childlike wonder on the mans face....I suddenly realized he had probably not been touched by anyone for many years.
After he passed away so many people came out of the woodwork, telling stories of the help he had given so many.
If I now go into the city where he ran his business . Everywhere there are slick people in suits and the hustle of big city living but I always pause at a particular place and and feel so honoured that He was my friend. Anything I can say about him does not do him justice as he was such a giving person, quite ungreedy, a diamond in the rough.
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Re: Two levels of compassion: is it possible?

Postby monktastic » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:01 am

That's a beautiful story, greentara! I like to believe there are bodhisattvas all around us. Maybe one day, if I'm lucky, I'll recognize it. For now, I'll simply suspect everyone I meet of being one :tongue:
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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