The balance between compassion and wisdom

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The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby droogiefret » Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:06 am

I was wondering if practitioners have a view on this one.

Is it difficult to achieve a balance between practices to develop compassion and practices to develop insight? And, particularly, is there a danger of getting so engrossed in insight meditation that the development of compassion gets forgotten at times?

I'm hoping there are no stupid questions on this forum ..... as I suspect if there were - this would probably be one.
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby greentara » Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:31 am

I wonder if you can work on or cultivate a balance between compassion and wisdom? If your mind is still, if you're aware insight will come, if you're ripe then the 'balance' happpens in a twinkling of an eye.
I think the meaning and impact of grace is often overlooked.
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:46 am

Droogiefret, I think you're asking something I worry about a lot--

my mind can only hold so many objects at once--how can I keep in mind emptiness, relative compassion, impermanence, right aspiration, etc etc etc all at the same time? How can you hold all of the aspects of the path when it seems so complex and diverse? Especially in practices like shamatha or vipashyana, being concerned that you will divorce wisdom from method or wisdom from compassion...

Is that kind of what you're asking?
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby droogiefret » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:26 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:Droogiefret, I think you're asking something I worry about a lot--

my mind can only hold so many objects at once--how can I keep in mind emptiness, relative compassion, impermanence, right aspiration, etc etc etc all at the same time? How can you hold all of the aspects of the path when it seems so complex and diverse? Especially in practices like shamatha or vipashyana, being concerned that you will divorce wisdom from method or wisdom from compassion...

Is that kind of what you're asking?


Yes, but it's not even as subtle as that for me. I haven't done much meditation so at that level I'm just wondering whether to alternate sessions between developing compassion and, say, watching thoughts - or whether it all tends to the same thing so I shouldn't worry about trying to balance any practice I do.

But also, from where I am at the moment (and maybe because of a Christian background) compassion feels more important than wisdom - maybe that's a perception that will change (greentara seems to imply that, if I've understood what they said).

From another angle, it feels natural to mentally wish people well as you pass them as you walk around town. So if I'm doing that, maybe sitting practice should more often be something different.

So I'm just a bit confused. I wasn't necessarily looking for answers that addressed my particular situation (that would be a bonus!) - but I thought listening to others thoughts and experiences on the general topic might give me some different perspectives.
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby lobster » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:26 am

Balance is about bringing them closer into a single entity. It is wise to be compassionate and to be truly compassionate requires wisdom. :namaste:
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby muni » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:29 am

A teaching about Asanga shows the importance of what is called compassion. Even Asanga did many years retreat, he had no any result. Even he learned to be patient by some demonstrations here in the story. But then suddenly in a single moment of great compassion, his mind-heart opens.
http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhi ... sanga.html

:namaste:
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby muni » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:14 am

I think conventional compassion cannot be separate from genuine/absolute (whatever term) compassion. Mindfulness makes us see the difference for example in sharing our bread with a beggar whether it soften our selfimportance (and so soften our own suffering) or increases our selfimportance. Therefore in order to understand it is said that "others" are the means for Awakening Bodhichitta, Wisdom-Compassion, Total Liberation.

H H Dalai Lama: When you like to be selfish, do it good: benefit 'others'. Joy, compassion, loving kindness in equanimity = boundless. :smile:
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:43 am

lobster wrote:Balance is about bringing them closer into a single entity. It is wise to be compassionate and to be truly compassionate requires wisdom. :namaste:

:thumbsup:
I was going to say something like that myself but you beat me to it.

:namaste:
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby Seishin » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:55 am

From my experience I've found people tend to gravitate towards either compassion or wisdom ie-someone spends all their energy helping others but very little meditating, going to the temple or reading/learning anything. Or, they spend all their energy reading books, web pages, memorizing sutras, but very little time helping others. I think this has more to do with an individuals character and the reasons they became Buddhist in the first place than any downfalls in their practice.

It's hard to do both when it's not usually in ones nature but it's important to give both aspects the attention required. Some people do this effortlessly and we should praise and emulate them :smile:

Gassho,
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby muni » Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:42 pm

I think when there is a separation of Dharma and Daily life there is no balance.
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby mandala » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:18 pm

Oh absolutely. I've known people who are magnetized to the 'wisdom' teachings and love being smarty-pants, yet side-step compassion practices and become egotistical and callous.
On the other extreme, some dive into compassion who may a bit of a martyr and use it to justify being a door mat.

Like the Dalai Lama says, compassion & wisdom are compared to the 2 wings of a bird - you need both to fly.

ps. it's an awesome question.
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby Astus » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:05 pm

In formal sessions where there is the section on awakening bodhicitta and the section on dedicating merit, they cover the compassion part, while the vipashyana section in meditation and studying sutras the wisdom part. In daily life you maintain good intentions towards others and at the same time non-attachment to illusory appearances, thus compassion and wisdom are combined. In other words, you try to be nice and not to hang on to (unwholesome) emotions and thoughts.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The balance between compassion and wisdom

Postby droogiefret » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:56 pm

I'm finding these posts very helpful - thank you.

Astus wrote: /snip/ In other words, you try to be nice and not to hang on to (unwholesome) emotions and thoughts.


Astus - Ouch. That one struck home and spoke rather directly to a recent experience.
(eta: which is to say I can live with my own foolishness but I made someone else feel awkward :emb: )
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