great compassion

The following comes from the chapter entitled “Joining with Naturalness” written by Ari Goldfield and Rose Taylor for the Freeing the Body, Freeing the Mind” Writings on the Connections Between Yoga & Buddhism collection edited by Michael Stone.  I quote it here at length because I read these two paragraphs in the wake of the Boston bombings and found myself nodding in agreement as I read them on the subway.

It is easy to be mad and point hatred, but it is much more difficult to have compassion.  I am not suggesting that perpetrators of terrible acts should not be brought to justice, but the personal reactions we have to such people would serve us and our society better if they were based on the following ideas.

Some food for thought.

“Great Compassion is Unbiased”

…in Buddhist Yoga compassion’s scope is vast, which is why it is known as “great compassion.”  Ordinarily, we only have compassion for those whom we feel fond of and whom we feel are sympathetic and worth of compassion, such as the victims of aggression.  It is less often that we feel compassion for our enemies of people whom we dislike; whom we feel are unsympathetic, evil, or unworthy of compassion, such as perpetrators of aggressive acts.  However, that type of bias is not great compassion.

Great compassion includes friends and enemies, victims and aggressors in a completely equal way; it does not have any bias in terms of having more affection for one sentient being and less for another. To the extent that they do not realize their true nature, all beings suffer and are worthy of compassion.  All beings have within them the completely pure, true nature of mind.  So all beings – friends, enemies, victims, and aggressors – are equally worthy of compassion.

It must understood that compassion is not the same as permission for, or forgiveness of, hurtful acts.  It is more a state of understanding that people who commit such acts, be the acts small or large, are not living in their “true nature.”  In Buddhism the true nature of all beings is that of harmony and joy in which harm to others only occurs when people “do not realize their true nature” and are therefore in a state of suffering.

This is a philosophy that I am a very new student of, and about which much has been written already.  I think that without delving into the deeper discussions of this idea, simple questions asked of yourself can perhaps provide guidance.  Is it easier to hate or to love? And if the ease of one emotion cannot be compared to another, which type of emotion would you rather be experiencing?  Which brings joy?

Act accordingly.


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