Is it possible to have too much compassion?

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Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Lisa » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:05 am

It depends upon what you're doing. Sun Tzu remarked that excessive compassion could be a fatal flaw in a General (alongside being quick to anger, being puritanical, being too determined to live, and being too willing to sacrifice oneself). I would be inclined to agree.

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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:28 pm

The Buddha specifically said compassion should be boundless and universal.

What you mean is, "Can compassion be skillful or unskillful?" And it can be both. Compassion is made better by wisdom and equanimity. Compassion has to be smart to be done well.

Hatred is an obvious enemy compassion, but pity is also a subtle enemy of compassion.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby ground » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:05 am

How could it be possible to have "too much compassion"?
Can compassion be quantified? What is the unit of measure?

One may however consider to be compassion what actually is not validly called "compassion".

What is bondage for the bodhisattvas and what is their liberation?
Attachment to wandering through cyclic existence without method is bondage for a bodhisattva; proceeding through cyclic existence with method is liberation. Attachment to wandering through cyclic existence without wisdom is bondage for a bodhisattva; proceeding through cyclic existence with wisdom is liberation. Wisdom that is not imbued with method is bondage; wisdom imbued with method is liberation. Method that is not imbued with wisdom is bondage; method imbued with wisdom is liberation.
Vimalakirti-nirdesa-sutra quoted from Lamrim Chenmo


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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:56 am

Lisa wrote:It depends upon what you're doing. Sun Tzu remarked that excessive compassion could be a fatal flaw in a General (alongside being quick to anger, being puritanical, being too determined to live, and being too willing to sacrifice oneself). I would be inclined to agree.

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Is your world-view such that this life is the only one and that karma does not exist? If so, then it would perhaps make sense to favor shrewdness and achieving worldly results in the here and now because there'd be no consequences in some future life. It would perhaps make sense to solely be concerned with one's own happiness here and now.

If you're a Mahayana Buddhist, it would hardly be worth it to be a successful general who wins wars in this lifetime only to later die and be reborn in terrible states of existence with all kinds of horrible karma. It would be much more worth one's time to train in wisdom and compassion in order to be liberated from the otherwise endless cycle of birth and death, attain complete enlightenment, and then help others do the same.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much Idiot compassion?

Postby Will » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:16 am

Yes. Witness the many enablers of addicts, spoiled children and abusers of women, children etc.

[edit] Idiot compassion was the phrase I could not recall.
Last edited by Will on Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Ogyen » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:34 am

Will wrote:Yes. Witness the many enablers of addicts, spoiled children and abusers of women, children etc.


This is not compassion the way the Buddha meant compassion, as in intention that stems from clear wisdom. This is ignorance.

I disagree, the essence of compassion is boundless. True compassion is the same as clear wisdom, this is different from conventional compassion. I think it relates to the two truths, doesn't it?

Conventional compassion is as flawed as the samsara that drives it, but ultimate compassion is the skill means to best help someone, this is far different from being nice. Sometimes a kick in the butt is needed, but knowing when and how, that is wisdom.

Compassion is the wisdom in action.

Just a thought.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby muni » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:31 am

Will wrote:Yes. Witness the many enablers of addicts, spoiled children and abusers of women, children etc.


= Compassion by deluded tolerance.

To remain aware, "responsable" for the welfare of all.
Push our head in the sand and nothing happens.

"I am so peaceful", so lets' roll obscurations. Too is obscuration.
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
(Mark Twain)
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:21 pm

Is it possible to have too much compassion?
No!
But to much delusion to interpreted a selfish view as compassion. Its not compassion that leads to suffering. If one develops Wisdom, one could be protected faster of delusion.

Be mindful, both will grow and on two feet its easier to walk.
Just that! :-)
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Luke » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:27 pm

Lisa wrote:It depends upon what you're doing. Sun Tzu remarked that excessive compassion could be a fatal flaw in a General (alongside being quick to anger, being puritanical, being too determined to live, and being too willing to sacrifice oneself). I would be inclined to agree.

Will true compassion often get in the way of selfish goals? You bet!

Being compassionate often means forgoing one's own pleasure in order to benefit others. Egotistical people will find this horrifying and repugnant.

But it should be remembered that feeling great love and compassion for others can be highly pleasurable itself, and Nirvana is the greatest and most permanent type of happiness a person can have.

The very aspects of Buddhism which people at first glance may find "inconvenient" often lead to the greatest happiness in the long run.
************
And please note that Sun-Tzu was NOT a Buddhist! You can't lump all Chinese philosophies/religions together. Chinese generals, Taoists, Confucians, and Buddhists have radically different ideas about the nature of life and reality.

"The Art of War" is perhaps one of the LEAST Buddhist books you could ever read. Try finding something which is more about "The Art of Peace"...

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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby spiritnoname » Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:10 am

Why do people always want to compare what the Buddha says to everyone else?

I personally don't care what Jesus, Gandhi, Confucius or Hellen Keller said in relation to Buddha Dharma, and I have a reason for that, because Dharma should be understood in the context of Dharma.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:32 am

Dear spiritnoname,

a forum would be very silent :-) So how do you understand compassion from the view of the dharma?

Dear Ogyen,

Compassion is the wisdom in action.


Here I would be careful as "nonaction is the source of all action" that is equal for compassion as it is for wisdom. Missing one or work only with one is a handicap.
Both leading to mindfulness and are developed by mindfulness.

The magic triangle of WISDOM (panna) - COMPASSION (sila) - MINDFULNESS (Sati) leads us to the point where we find peace.

Don't forget one of the tools on the way, it could be a reason for stagnation. No fear all of them are empty.
Just that! :-)
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Luke » Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:26 pm

spiritnoname wrote:Why do people always want to compare what the Buddha says to everyone else?

It's the same reason that celebrity endorsements help sell products. Some people feel more comfortable approaching Buddhism after they've read that some famous person said something good about it. It gives them some excuse which they can tell their friends ("Well Einstein like Buddhism, and he was a very intelligent person..." or "Did you know that Buddhism has some compassion teachings which are very similar to Christianity's?").

Some people will only approach Buddhism after they've heard Keanu Reeves or the Beastie Boys talk about it. Maybe these people are a bit more cautious and timid, but they still deserve our compassion. Any contact with Dharma is a positive thing.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Anders » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:27 pm

I don't think there is such a thing as 'too much compassion'. The standard the sutras set for these things is that bodhisattvas love all sentient beings like a mother loves her only child. That's a whole lot of love for a whole lot of beings.

What there may be is such a thing as untempered compassion. If it's not balanced by equanimity, frustration and sadness on behalf of others can be overwhelming. If it's not tempered with wisdom, one's endeavours can be counterproductive.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby KeithBC » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:31 pm

Too much compassion? Not possible. Compassion should be boundless and unlimited.

Wrong type of compassion? That happens a lot. There is a lot of naive compassion, what Pema Chodron less charitably calls "idiot compassion". Things we think we ought to do because it's what we are "supposed to", without really considering what is best for the recipient.

For example, you see a homeless person panhandling. Do you give him money? If you answer, "Of course not, he will just spend it on booze", you are heartless. If you answer, "Of course you should", that is idiot compassion because he might really spend it on booze and you will have contributed to harming him in the process. If you answer that you need to consider the person as an individual and find out what will be most helpful to him, that is real compassion.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby spiritnoname » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:32 pm

Hanzze wrote:Dear spiritnoname,

a forum would be very silent :-) So how do you understand compassion from the view of the dharma?



My view of compassion is not a common one.
My view of compassion comes from shunyata, from shunyata, undistinguished in personality, having already cleared the barriers and covered the distance with the immeasurable attitudes, my view spreads out identifying as billions of samsaric beings looking through their eyes, crying, in fear, lost, in agony. Spontaneously arising, like a great mother is the attitude, all the beings that are myself, these are my children and my life can disappear, my bones can break, my flesh can burn slowly for a million years for them because my clear view sees all their pains and they're far greater. And so here in this view is the emptiness view lacking identity and great bliss in the body from love with all it's activities and the clear knowledge of suffering. Fear, sadness, pain, confusion, becomes the fuel for great bliss and activity. I become greedy for the pains of the world like a peacock eating poisonous plants, troubles can come and be my food.


You can actually follow this like directions,.. it will lead you to bliss and freedom that most people do not experience in their whole lives.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby spiritnoname » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:24 am

Also this view, you shouldn't limit the beings to present beings in the 10 directions only,... there is also past,.. and more importantly future.
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:49 am

Well spiritnoname,

Nirvana means to be free of craving and greed.
Be mindful!

I become greedy for the pains of the world like a peacock eating poisonous plants, troubles can come and be my food.


Thats for the beginning, not to suck in it. Don't take a stick as a feet. Wisdom is another leg.
Just that! :-)
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Re: Is it possible to have too much compassion?

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:24 am

Hanzee I don't understand what you've said.

That line I wrote is referring to a aspect of a Bodhisattva's activity, it's tinged with twilight language though,.. so maybe not everyone understands. I wrote it so there is a feeling of victory, conquering of samsaric suffering and the deliberate seeking it out to destroy it and "consume" it to fuel the Bodhisattva vehicle.
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