Compassion without samadhi?

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Compassion without samadhi?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:53 pm

As of late I've been reading the Buddha Nature Treatise (Foxinglun 佛性論), which I don't think exists in any western language translation unfortunately.

Anyway, there is a line here that states compassion (karuṇā) has the fourth dhyana as its ground while great compassion (mahā-karuṇā) has the untainted fruit of the Tathagata as its base.

《佛性論》卷2〈1 自體相品〉:「悲者以第四禪為其地。大悲者以無流如來果為其地。」(CBETA, T31, no. 1610, p. 797, a4-5)

This struck me as interesting. Is compassion in the true sense possible without meditation?

Some might argue it is, but then thinking about the Buddhist cosmology, how is one able to have compassion for beings in the extremes of existence in the arupa-loka (formless realms) when no such point of reference is immediately available?

To understand the subtle suffering of the arupa-loka, intellectual understanding and superficial envisioning of such states is insufficient. One has to have a tangible point of reference which is probably only gained through direct yogic insight and experience of such states at the peaks of existence. Without such experience and insight, is karuṇā for such subtle states of samsara possible?

This seems to be what the text is saying here:

《佛性論》卷2〈1 自體相品〉:「悲者以苦苦為相。大悲者以三苦為相。」(CBETA, T31, no. 1610, p. 797, a1-2)
"Karuṇā has suffering of suffering as its characteristic. Mahā-karuṇā has the three sufferings as its characteristic."

If meditation, and serious meditation at that capable of attaining the fourth dhyana, is a prerequisite to genuine compassion, then there is a great deal more involved in cultivating genuine compassion.

However, there is one thing that might undermine what I'm saying here. The text also states this:

《佛性論》卷2〈1 自體相品〉:「悲者以欲界為境界。大悲者通三界為境界。」(CBETA, T31, no. 1610, p. 797, a3-4)
"Karuṇā has the kama-loka as its sphere of cognition. Mahā-karuṇā encompasses the three realms in its sphere of cognition."

Given that at the fourth dhyana one experiences the arupa-loka, I think this means that while one experiences it one is still in the kama-loka in the meanwhile until death when one will be reborn in that state. The latter mahā-karuṇā is unlimited and encompasses all three realms (presumably simultaneously). But then if karuṇā is limited strictly to the kama-loka, then I don't see why the fourth dhyana would be a base for it because at that stage one is well beyond the kama-loka in terms of perceptive ability, no? Is there not a contradiction here?

In any case, this is just something I've been thinking about. Is compassion possible without very serious meditation which in turn requires a lot of sacrifice (abandoning sense pleasures and so on)?
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby mudra » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:53 am

It seems (from what I can understand in the Tibetan system) on the Bodhisattva path that the generation of Bodhicitta requires Great Compassion. Of course this can increase, but the defining line between those that can generate Bodhicitta or not is this quality of compassion that is universal, doesn't differentiate between beings in samsara, etc. Evidently wisdom strengthens this compassion, and once bodhicitta is spontaneous, thus marking the entrance into the first path/marga (accumulation) it continues to grow stronger - the compassion become more powerful.

So perhaps the dividing line is when one enters the Bodhisattva paths (not to be confused with the Bhumis). But for sure there has to be deep contemplation/meditation in order to 'reorient' the mind to Great Compassion.

Even those on the sravaka paths generate compassion, but the quality is not the same as the Great Compassion in question on the bodhisattva path, the underlying motivation (in combination with Maitri/Loving Kindness) that finally leads us to take personal responsibility for the welfare of all living beings, and thus leading us to commitment to the Bodhicitta ideal.

If great compassion was only possible for the Buddhas, then how does one achieve Buddhahood without it?

But this could be a matter of terms, as you quote from a Chinese Mahayana context and I speak from a Gelug perspective with limited knowledge, hopefully we don't end up with crossed wires here.
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:09 am

mudra wrote:If great compassion was only possible for the Buddhas, then how does one achieve Buddhahood without it?

But this could be a matter of terms, as you quote from a Chinese Mahayana context and I speak from a Gelug perspective with limited knowledge, hopefully we don't end up with crossed wires here.


The text here makes a distinction between compassion and great compassion. The latter is of the Tathagata.

I don't think the systems (Foxinglun here and Gelugpa) are mutually exclusive, but in this context it might not be useful to compare them.
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby mudra » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:10 pm

So in this system, is there any distinction of degrees of compassion, say for example the compassion of a Bodhisattva and that of a non- Bodhisattva?
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:44 pm

mudra wrote:So in this system, is there any distinction of degrees of compassion, say for example the compassion of a Bodhisattva and that of a non- Bodhisattva?


Indeed. Compassion is available to the two vehicles, but Great Compassion is in the realm of the Tathagata.
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby mudra » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:50 am

Huseng wrote:
mudra wrote:So in this system, is there any distinction of degrees of compassion, say for example the compassion of a Bodhisattva and that of a non- Bodhisattva?


Indeed. Compassion is available to the two vehicles, but Great Compassion is in the realm of the Tathagata.


Could you explain how in this system the compassion of the Bodhisattva and that of the Sravaka differs, is it by its object? By its quality?

And what terms are used to distinguish them?

And what is the distinguishing feature of Great Compassion?

Sorry don't mean to pester you, just trying to figure out how it works in the foxinglun.

Thanks
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:37 pm

mudra wrote:Could you explain how in this system the compassion of the Bodhisattva and that of the Sravaka differs, is it by its object? By its quality?


According to the text compassion is of the two vehicles and great compassion is of the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas (or specifically the untainted fruit of the Tathagata, which I think can be said to include Bodhisattvas, though that might not be entirely accurate).

Compassion focuses on suffering of suffering. It has the desire realm (kama-loka) as its object. It removes suffering from the mind, but doesn't remove the events which cause suffering. Compassion is said to only for a time save beings (I assume that is referring to Arhats who upon their demise no longer return to samsara to aid others in their liberation ergo their compassion has a limited time frame of operative capacity).

Great compassion focuses on all three kinds of suffering (suffering of suffering, suffering of change and all pervasive suffering). Its object includes all three realms (desire, form and formless realms). It removes suffering and the events which cause it. It is permanent in saving beings.


And what is the distinguishing feature of Great Compassion?


I think it could be said to be the permanent quality of it as opposed to compassion which, as noted above, is only good until the Sravaka achieves Arhatship and passes into Parinirvana.
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby mudra » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:00 am

Huseng wrote:
According to the text compassion is of the two vehicles and great compassion is of the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas (or specifically the untainted fruit of the Tathagata, which I think can be said to include Bodhisattvas, though that might not be entirely accurate).

Compassion focuses on suffering of suffering. It has the desire realm (kama-loka) as its object. It removes suffering from the mind, but doesn't remove the events which cause suffering. Compassion is said to only for a time save beings (I assume that is referring to Arhats who upon their demise no longer return to samsara to aid others in their liberation ergo their compassion has a limited time frame of operative capacity).

Great compassion focuses on all three kinds of suffering (suffering of suffering, suffering of change and all pervasive suffering). Its object includes all three realms (desire, form and formless realms). It removes suffering and the events which cause it. It is permanent in saving beings.


And what is the distinguishing feature of Great Compassion?


I think it could be said to be the permanent quality of it as opposed to compassion which, as noted above, is only good until the Sravaka achieves Arhatship and passes into Parinirvana.


Ok, so somehow Great Compassion is within the realm of the Bodhisattvas too, that was the bit that puzzled me. I can definitely see that Great Compassion could have degrees of perfection. Thanks.
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby 5heaps » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:51 am

thats an interesting comment about the 4th dhyana. i mean, a person can have direct cognition of the four noble truths and even emptiness without the 4th dhyana, 1st dhyana, or even shamata. even so, they do say that all of these things are easier and more typical for the 4th so i guess there is something special about the 4th.

to answer the question though, i think that any real path has samadhi as its platform (so that means 8th or 9th of Kamalashila's 9 steps as the minimum)
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Re: Compassion without samadhi?

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:46 pm

My opinion here will most probably have no value whatsoever as I am in no manner shape nor form literate on the language nor conceptual terms described.

But I have a opiniion on this thing called compassion which if not directly relevent may be interesting or amuseing to some.

It seems there may be conflicting ways of looking at this thing. I have heard (but perhaps this rumor is untrue), that some adherants of the zen schoolings believe compassion to be a natural state, and I have heard that many in the Tibetan schools to consider compassion to be a added onto state.

I fall to the first side, compassion seems implicit in awareness, the function or quality of being aware. Awareness ultimately considered must be elicited by circumstance but when it persents it presents always with compassionate aspect. I contend our awareness is not a simple awareness but a cognicizing awareness which attempts to understand things or objects as they are. This quality or act(to understand) is in fact compassion, a compassionate act.... always.

Some it seems contend with emptinesses consideration, then it is that, which shows we are as others.... Since we must necessarily work to our best benefit, always; we must when emptiness shows all to be of one even flavor, be likewise compassionate to all others. And consider all in a sense to be as our mothers. The direct lack of distinction or even flavor produced by emptinesses consideration in fact cause us to be compassionate thusly to other sentient beings.
There being no distinction.

Both seem true, but I opine the first is the finally considered truth. We do not ultimately have to work or as consequence add onto our aware function compassion by the adjacent or core understanding of emptiness. Emptiness is true in every aspect but when awareness presents in circumstance it presents always in compassionate form. Even flavor is true always certainly, but even flavors consideration is not that which always elicits the circumstance of compassion. It produces due to the circumstance of cognition. Always when cognition is present(our awareness) it is there.

Same result....always compassionate in either case, so perhaps not so important. Very important to me personally but that perhaps is not important. For me I find personally this removes a final boundary of sorts.

But I don't even know for the most part, what are the defineing characteristics of about two thirds of he words used in this discussion. Not to state they are not important, but that I do not find them important to my particular circumstance and thusly do not know nor study them. And I am not necessarily a Buddhist so perhaps i am looking at this thing from the outside in.

So I thusly qualify my response..feel free to disregard it in its entireity. In this fashion of education...it is a totally uneducated response.

The logical inferal would be, and this would require a leap of sorts....the second contention of compassions occurance is dependent in relationship to self...even though absent of self, compassion is then driectly related to self. Compasson presents as result of consideration of self to others(considered to be same) Then in a no sense state such as the formless realm compassion would present, as no form implies sameness. This would seemingly not be the case.
In the former cosideration compassion would always present in some fashion or form as awarness presents. When the circumstance produces to elicit a aware response a aware response being cognicizing is always invariably initially at least without delusion a compassionate response as well. If the second were true (though I am not debateing which is true it probably matters not)....it seems in a no self state such as the formless realm a being, being of even flavor, would have compassion. That seems not true.

Some would contend a formless realm being still retains sense of self abeit in a very very diluted form with no cognitive aspect. I would contend a no cognitive circumstance as sentient being could not occur. No form would imply,to my view, no established sense of self with very very little cognition but still having no compassion. No circumstance for its elicitation. So even flavor of a sort but without recognition of compassionate aspect. Some cognition which produces form abeit with minimal cognition thusly not to produce any substance.

So two ways of looking at a formless realm I would suppose. One implies sense of self as principal for action of compassion one implies cogniton as principal for action. ONe implies self as aspect of formless realm and cognition removed and one implies cognition remmaining but virtual sense of self removed.
Compassions origination or circumstance of production would present in one case when one sense of self recognized that its sense of self is equal to other senses of self. IN the other situation no sense of self need be present. If then Enlightenment is considered to be without self concept, a Buddha would have no basis of comparison and thusly be in a formless state not a enlightend state as no compassion or compassionate circumstance would present. The compasssion would form as consequence of self consideration as equal. No self consideration no compassion as result. A buddhas would be noncompassionate.

Again not to debate it..perhaps it may be amuseing to some who read it.... it is just as I read it.
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