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How can we have compassion for child abusers? - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel

How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Dan74 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:03 am

It was the last paragraph of what you wrote, in particular what exactly you are suggesting (I may be misunderstanding you) and how you suggest this is done in practice.
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:27 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Alobha » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:03 am


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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:20 pm

Ok I have expanded the previous post for a blog entry, because I quit like it, and hope I covered/answered any cloudy areas.

The reason the Buddha recommends to protect the limitless intention of Metta as found in the Karaṇīya-metta-sutta – discourse of the practice of friendliness. Kph 9!
“Just as a mother protects her own child with her life, as though they were her only child, this limitless intention is nurtured in the same way in regard to all beings.”
Karaṇīya-metta-sutta – discourse of the practice of friendliness. Kph 9

Is because when faced with difficult individuals and situations it can be damaged.

There will be times when meeting few difficulties in life it is harder for this intention to mature and developed fully, as there is no or few opportunities to react to situations with Metta; so it should be cultivated, developed and matured, then when faced with difficult people or news it becomes far harder for the external world to damage it.

When developing Metta (or any of the brahmavihāras) we turn to where it naturally arises and with the aid of the other Brahmaviharas, Metta can be toward all equally.

This development is described as being directed everywhere

“Toward the whole world should this limitless goodwill be cultivated, directed above, below, and in every direction,
without the obstacles to friendliness or peacefulness.”
Karaṇīya-metta-sutta – discourse of the practice of friendliness. Kph 9
and
I will abide pervading one quarter with a heart imbued with loving-kindness; likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above and below, around and everywhere; and to all as to myself. I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a heart imbued with loving-kindness; abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility, and without ill-will.
Suffusion with the Divine Abidings Chant(which repeats the formula for the rest of the brahmavihāras) MN7

The Buddha, in the Sigalovada Sutta DN31, said the directions (in brackets are my interpretation of these) which are used in the Suffusion of the Divine Abidings Chant were;

The North (forward direction) = Friends;
The South (backward direction)= Teachers;
The East (right hand direction) = Parents;
The West (left hand direction) = Wife;
Above (upward direction) = Ascetics;
Below (downward direction) = Workers.

However, Bhadantācariya Buddhagosa uses a different person(s) directed method;
1. oneself;
2. a good friend;
3. a "neutral" person;
4. a difficult person;
5. all four of the above equally;
6. and then gradually the entire universe.

Oneself and a difficult person are not mentioned as a formal practice, the Buddha clearly says there are non whom are dearer than oneself (SN 3.8 Mallikaa Sutta,) and the difficult person is to be shown Metta as a response to the arising of ill-will within difficult situations and practice(MN21;) So Metta is cultivated and developed and used as a protection from harmful states of mind, such as the arising or arisen ill-will, but as a formal cultivation it is used to develop and mature the intention, which is best done formally through those who naturally lend themselves to this quality being present towards.

This doesn't mean that these people or groups in the first list are never difficult or found to be difficult to deal with, it just means that they are the ideal people to develop and test the development out on, due to their close proximity and regular interaction.

Metta can be seen as an outward expression of the last two aspects of Upright Effort (Sammāvāyāmo) or The Four Upright Strivings (Cattāro Sammappadhānā), this is metta using cultivating tools, or tools a builder would use, as it is a desire for happiness.

3. To generate desire for the arising of skilful states that have not yet arisen;
4. To generate desire for the endurance, persistence, multiplication, extension, development, and fulfilment of skilful states that have already arisen.

Karuṇā or Compassion can be seen as an expression of the first two aspects of these. It is the same intention working with different tools we have a desire to help others out of harm, this is metta using tools that remove, tools a demolition worker would use, as it is a desire for the freedom from affliction.

1. To generate desire for the non-arising of bad unskilful states that have not yet arisen;
2. To generate desire for the abandonment of bad unskilful states that have already arisen;

Mudita, or Joy, on the other-hand can be seen as an expression of gratitude for these Upright Efforts being put into practice, as expressed by seeing someone who needs help overcoming certain unskilled actions getting that help, or someone who was a victim receiving help to overcome the effect that the situation has, so seeing a combination of the four being put to use. Although gladness for the fortunes of others is a form of mudita, and as an expression of metta it is a seeing happiness and or its progress that is being cultivated. Whereas on a personal level it is seeing the presence of what brings happiness or the presence of happiness itself.

Upekkhā, or equanimity, is then seen as the full development of Upright Effort, a state of calm not moved by the presence of unskilled states, resting within the skilled, or absence of unskilled states the second and fourth Upright efforts brought to completion. It is developed by unlocking ones attachment to what one is attending on, a calming of the fabrications around the object, or metta without focus on anything so unmoved to act by any stimulus.

With more difficult situations it is sometimes best to work in the opposite direction swapping Metta and Upekkha but leaving Karuṇā and Mudita in place, calming down, seeing how something can be done, appreciating a plan is now there, enjoying the reconciliation; or simply in its complete reverse order, calming down, appreciating something can now be done, compassionate for the situation people have found themselves in, and seeking happiness for them.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Dan74 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:30 pm

Nice post, Cittasanto, except for the seemingly solipsistic approach to it all. It is sure to undermine metta and karuna if they are seen as just being about safeguarding my mind from harmful mind-states. I will just cultivate an insular quietism which bolsters the delusion of self.
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:34 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:53 am

There is also something about practicing for myself and for others as being the best of all, rather than practicing just for myself.

Compassion, by its very definition, is for others, is it not?
Last edited by Dan74 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:04 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:06 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:24 am

This may be more of a language quibble but to me one has metta for one's own suffering and karuna for others. Maybe I am wrong?

In any case the original point I tried to make was that if one cultivates the immeasurables or Brahma-viharas just as mental qualities treating the people and objects as just mental formations useful or otherwise for the purpose of cultivation, one is likely to cultivate a subtle kind of selfishness that will be very hard to uproot.

There is a practice of regarding everything as mental formations and it is a powerful practice that I suspect should come once sila is strong and Brahma-viharas are cultivated to a significant extent. Seeing human beings as devoid of self and selfhood, seeing compassion as empty, as nothing but a fleeting mental formation, this is perhaps premature for one who has not established strong roots in compassion and compassionate action.

There are stages in practice and before the right foundation is laid, deeper aspects are likely to cause more harm than good, IMO.

But I thinks perkele is right and this debate is too theoretical.

I guess this issue is close to my heart. As a 13-year-old kid I read about the atrocities committed in Stalin's Russia and about the Jewish Holocaust. It is easy to demonise the people involved, it is also easy to turn away and consider it unimportant or unwholesome, these in my view are facile solutions to a important human dilemma. Understanding the kamma that leads to evil being committed helps us understand our own kamma and develop spacious open hearts to all kinds of people including of course ourselves.

I am not saying that everyone must do this. It is a matter for one's practice.
Last edited by Dan74 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:37 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby bodom » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:56 am

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby ground » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:34 am


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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby manas » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:07 am

Hi all, I had no idea this topic had gotten so many replies. I thank everyone for their inputs.

I mistitled the OP. It should have written 'How can we have compassion for those who have abused children'? (and of course it is quite specific, in that my ire is really towards those who perform the worst kinds of abuse - torture, sexual, etc., and not towards anyone who has ever flown off the handle and smacked their kids from time to time - an important distinction to make, imo!).

I'm grateful for the folks who have pointed out that fault. We cannot really define someone by what they have done. Otherwise Anglimala, once he had ceased from harming living beings, and was living the life of a gentle monk under Buddha's guidance, would still have been referred to as a 'murderer'. But that doesn't make sense. When he killed living beings, people called him a murderer. When he became an Arahant, people called him a saint. But really, does any label or designation actually belong to us, or we to it?

I am tempted to change the title, but I will leave it for now, because it has stirred up some discussion. But I must now say that I agree with what others have said here: there is no such thing as a 'child abuser', there are just 'persons who have abused children' (and who need to be sentenced and locked up, btw!!); and on a deeper level still, it's hard to find any essence we can rightly assign 'personhood' to. Is a person form, feelings, perception, fabrications or consciousness? Clearly not any one of the above, but then, what?? And so I don't wish to label people as 'abusers' or 'normal people' or 'saints' anymore, I feel like all such designations are misleading, false. And so the answer to my original question, as some have pointed out, is that the way I can have compassion for the 'child abuser' is the same way I can have compassion for the person who gives me a bad look while walking down the street, or the wasp that stings me under my clothing. They do what they do out of ignorance, just as I also sometimes let myself or others down, due to my not seeing things as they really are. So I, the children, the child abusers, the decent folk - we are all in a difficult situation! In that (mostly), we have not seen the truth! So it's not a question of 'deserve' love, but a question of 'need' love. I mean, who 'deserves' love, anyway? And who is 'unworthy' of love? How are we going to decide? How many bad actions have to be perfomed by someone before we 'turn off the tap', and decide that they are 'unworthy' of our kindness? I know I still make such judgements myself, but I am beginning to see the error of it. Maybe the Buddha is right, just let go of making distinctions and send out metta equally to all beings. This is challenging, indeed, but I imagine a perpetrator's mind must be a pretty dark place. They do need love and compassion, it's just that their physical bodies need to be locked up in jail while we send it out to them! (and to everyone else, without making distinctions).

And yet, knowing in this life a few people who were hurt by adults in a bad way, whilst they were children - and incidentally, who would never continue that cycle of abuse by hurting a child themselves - (it is anathema to them!) - I have a personal stance on this issue, as well as a commonsense one. Children need and deserve protection from sexual and physical abuse, and the current state of affairs is woefully inadequate as regards reporting, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing. The law generally is biased in favour of the abuser. That's still my 'sammuti sacca' POV. (And my more considered point of view, without the 'heat' & anger of the OP).

with metta - may all beings be at ease -

:anjali:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:10 am

Good post, manas! Of course kids need to be protected. I just wish we invested more in prevention rather than punishment. I also think that raunch culture and the overemphasis on the importance of sex don't help but the moment I say this, I am usually accused of being a prude and repressed... Middle Way, anyone?

I am not sure what you would propose (from your last paragraph) that the justice system should do differently. You know child sex offenders can now be effectively jailed indefinitely even once their original sentence if over, if they are deemed to be a risk.

There are also people who have to wear collars and are constantly tracked with alerts sounding if they go near schools.

Etc, etc

Mingyur, Diamond Sutra is poison like all Emptiness teachings, if one has not got the basics down pat. This is standard Mahayana and I posted about it here:

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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby sattva » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:29 am


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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:32 am

Last edited by Cittasanto on Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:54 am, edited 2 times in total.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Cittasanto
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:35 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

User avatar
Cittasanto
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:40 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:50 am

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