Compassion and pity?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Compassion and pity?

Postby vajrahorizon » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:00 am

On some levels I'm a very empathetic person. It always pained me to see insects and the like suffer, but I was deeply conflicted by this. I thought the best response was to toughen myself up and at times acted in a cruel fashion.

How does one demonstrate compassion without the pity getting you down personally? I mean I hate seeing bugs and the like suffer but there is so much of it in the World it can seem really overwhelming and painful. If you are empathetic to all the suffering I seem to take it on as my own. How do I stop this from happening? Self harm is just as bad if not worse than harming others.

VH
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby Tilopa » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:17 am

vajrahorizon wrote:How does one demonstrate compassion without the pity getting you down personally? I mean I hate seeing bugs and the like suffer but there is so much of it in the World it can seem really overwhelming and painful.

Compassion needs to be balanced with the wisdom that understands things lack true existence. Sentient beings and suffering are dreamlike and illusory, existent but not inherently so.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby oushi » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:30 am

vajrahorizon wrote:On some levels I'm a very empathetic person. It always pained me to see insects and the like suffer, but I was deeply conflicted by this. I thought the best response was to toughen myself up and at times acted in a cruel fashion.

I would say, that the best response would be to be emphatic and pained. Why don't you accept yourself as such a person?
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby vajrahorizon » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:00 am

oushi wrote:
vajrahorizon wrote:On some levels I'm a very empathetic person. It always pained me to see insects and the like suffer, but I was deeply conflicted by this. I thought the best response was to toughen myself up and at times acted in a cruel fashion.

I would say, that the best response would be to be emphatic and pained. Why don't you accept yourself as such a person?


Interesting point. But relentless pain and vicarious suffering is too much on top of my own normal human Dukkha.

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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby oushi » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:09 am

Maybe it is too much, because it is not accepted? Accepted things don't weight. I would say, that lack of acceptance and the struggle, brings more Dukkha. It's not about accepting their suffering, it's about accepting yourself not accepting it.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby futerko » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:21 am

Insects have short and precarious lives. I say a mantra for them and wish them an auspicious rebirth to send them on their way without dwelling on the past.

Yesterday I fished a moth out of a pond. It looked like it was dead, but I tried anyway and it was still alive. I have no idea whether I prolonged its sufferring or not, but I figured that if it did suffer then it would at least burn off some karma, and at least I gave it a chance to survive.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby dakini_boi » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:33 pm

vajrahorizon wrote:How does one demonstrate compassion without the pity getting you down personally? I mean I hate seeing bugs and the like suffer but there is so much of it in the World it can seem really overwhelming and painful. If you are empathetic to all the suffering I seem to take it on as my own. How do I stop this from happening? Self harm is just as bad if not worse than harming others.

VH


by taking the bodhisattva vow. Then you actually create the cause to end their suffering permanently, and that should comfort you.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:30 pm

I sometimes get very sad after practice. I think contemplating emptiness used to make me sad - it still does. But reflecting on the fact that the number of enlightened beings who love me and want to help me are numberless like the sand on the seashore really helps. We're not alone in our practice.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby seeker242 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:51 pm

vajrahorizon wrote:
How does one demonstrate compassion without the pity getting you down personally?


By accepting the fact that this suffering is just the nature of Samsara? And that all beings who are stuck in Samsara will suffer and nothing can be done about that? Except to show them the way out of samsara? But the only way to do that is to find the way out yourself. Because obviously you can't show another the way out if you don't know it yourself. Enlightenment is the only way out of this suffering so we must get this enlightenment because it's the only thing that will actually help them. Without that, you can't actually do anything that will really and substantially help any of them.

But of course, if one of them needs food and you have some food, it's helpful to you and them to help them and give them some food so they don't starve to death. But obviously, some will still starve because you just can't give food to every being that needs it. That is impossible. Just to accept the fact that this is impossible, goes a long way to not getting you down personally, IMO.

This is Samsara. Yea, it sucks. It's completely filled with suffering. But that is why it's called samsara to begin with. Lamenting over the fact that it sucks is really not all that productive, it's counter productive really. More important is what to do about it.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby muni » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:18 am

Compassion is not exactly pity as far as I understand that word. Pity is by a self who sees a lower being or a being in a bad situation which I great one give a coin. Or I great one am going to show my big heart to those stupid/poor ones. I am so good. That is not compassion.

So called conventional compassion opens the closed narrow mind for 'others', see them as our mothers/children right now they can be in a very deluded state.

Wisdoms' compassion or Genuine Bodhichitta can never devide the good here and the bad there. Genuine Bodhichitta dispels the darkness of dual misperception like the morning sun dispels the darkness of the night.

Even others show no compassion to us, we can remain mindful since "others" are more important than "me" (me sees the body as itself and other bodies having less value, but these bodies are in same soup). To awaken we need "others". There cannot be awaken nature while pushing "good ones, bad ones, poor ones, rich ones" in corners. There are no corners. :broke:

Just my two coins. :soapbox: Thanks to put a light on this by this tread! :thumbsup:
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby underthetree » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:35 am

Compassion involves empathy, not pity. Pity is dualistic, empathy is non-dual.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:56 am

Compassion does not require pity. We simply do what is best, as far as we can judge, for the benefit of other beings.

Pity can actually be obstructive, as it may prevent wise decisions or even make us so sad that we are overcome and do nothing.

Those working to help the bleeding and the starving frequently have to manage their emotions and set aside pity in order to make clear decisions - which are as compassionate as they can be. They feel pity and empathy and may need to cry, of course, but their compassion ensures they put the needs of the people they help above their own feelings.

Sensing and understanding the suffering of others as motivation is the essence of being 'com passio nate'.

That's the difference as I see it - no idea if it is especially 'Buddhist' though.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:37 pm

As you said, BG.
Pity is the near enemy of compassion. Cruelty is it's opposite. Pity, although sharing some characteristics of compassion is a hindrance as it keeps others apart from us. Cruelty we can easily recognize and avoid, but pity can be easily mistaken for compassion so one has to be careful. All the brahma viharas have a near enemy i.e., attachment when it comes to loving kindness, frivolity as the near enemy of joy and apathy in turn of equanimity.
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Re: Compassion and pity?

Postby lobster » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:30 am

vajrahorizon wrote:On some levels I'm a very empathetic person. It always pained me to see insects and the like suffer, but I was deeply conflicted by this. I thought the best response was to toughen myself up and at times acted in a cruel fashion.
VH


I speak wasp and fly and love spiders (cructacean relatives)
Suffering of our relatives, however relative is a concern.

1. be actively kind
2. humans first, cattle, edible insects and crustaceans, second in the compassion stakes
3. don't wear a jain insect mask
4. be vogon, vegan and an animal activist, channel that empathy
5. do not worship the lord of the flies
6. hardest of all, learn to love suffering . . .

on behalf of insects everywhere - I thank you :bow:
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