compassion

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

compassion

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:28 am

Something I wrote for another forum sometime ago:

One of the complaints made against the Theravada is that the Theravadin practitioner is concerned only one's own salvation. The "hinayana" is so characterized by the Mahayana polemicists, but outside of the fact that the word "hinayana" is a derisive, disrespectful, divisive and an ugly term, the problem with this term is that it is a Mahayana polemical definition that gets inappropriately applied to the Theravada, ignoring what the Pali Canon, what the Theravada, has to say for itself, and it assume that the Mahayana definition of the self centered arhat is the correct one across the board. It is not.

Chavalata Sutta
Trans by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

"Monks, these four types of individuals are to be found existing in the world. Which four? The one who practices neither for his/her own benefit nor for that of others. The one who practices for the benefit of others but not for his/her own. The one who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others. The one who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others.

[1] Just as a firebrand from a funeral pyre -- burning at both ends, covered with excrement in the middle -- is used as fuel neither in a village nor in the wilderness: I tell you that this is a simile for the individual who practices neither for his/her own benefit nor for that of others.

[2] The individual who practices for the benefit of others but not for his/her own is the higher & more refined of these two.

[3] The individual who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others is the highest & most refined of these three.

[4] The individual who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of others is, of these four, the foremost, the chief, the most outstanding, the highest, & supreme.

Just as from a cow comes milk; from milk, curds; from curds, butter; from butter, ghee; from ghee, the skimmings of ghee; and of these, the skimmings of ghee are reckoned the foremost -- in the same way, of these four, the individual who practices for his/her own benefit and for that of other is the foremost, the chief, the most outstanding, the highest, & supreme.

"These are the four types of individuals to be found existing in the world."
AN IV.95

Jinna Sutta: Good, Kassapa. Very good. It seems that you are one who practices for the happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, & happiness of beings human & divine. So continue wearing your robes of cast off hemp cloth, go for alms, and live in the wilderness. ~ Samyutta Nikaya XVI.5

...the one who practices for his own benefit but not that of others is to be criticized for that reason, the one who practices for both his own benefit and that of others is, for that reason, to be praised. — AN VII.64

These interesting texts points to the fact that the Theravada and the Pali Canon are not concerned with selfish practice, but it is interesting to see that the third individual, the one who practices for his/her own benefit is rated higher than the one who practices only for the benefit of others, but as the Buddha clearly states:

One should first establish oneself in what is proper, then only should one instruct others. Thus the wise man is not reproached. Dhp 158

"Cunda, it is impossible that one who is himself sunk in the mire should pull out another who is sunk in the mire. But it is possible, Cunda, that one not sunk in the mire himself should pull out another who is sunk in the mire.
"It is not possible, Cunda, that one who is himself not restrained, not disciplined and not quenched [as to his passions], should make others restrained and disciplined, should make them attain to the full quenching [of passions]. But it is possible, Cunda, that one who is himself restrained, disciplined and fully quenched [as to his passions] should make others restrained and disciplined, should make them attain to the full quenching [of passions].
-- Majjhima Nikaya 8

By doing evil, one defiles oneself;
by avoiding evil, one purifies oneself.
Purity and impurity depend on oneself:
no one can purify another.
Dhp 165

I [the Buddha] am freed, monks from all snares both celestial and human. You also, monks are freed from all snares both celestial and human. Fare you, monk in a round that may be for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, for love toward the world, for the advantage, the good, the happiness of gods and men. -- S I 131-2.

In Shantideva's compendium of Mahayana thought, the "Sikshasammuccaya," we find quoted from the Mahayana Ayrya-Sagaramati Sutra:

"There is another rule that can serve as the epitome of Mahayana: 'By taking care to avoid stumbling oneself, one will protect all beings.'"

And he quotes from the Bodhisattva-Pratimoksa:

"If, O Sariputra, one wishes to protect others, one should protect oneself."

And here we have the epitome of Mahayana, not shunyata, not Buddha-nature or the trikaya doctrine, not the ekayana. It is worth noting the emphasis on individual practice, individual concern in these two Mahayanist texts. Without individual concern, concern for others is not too terribly meaningful. It is worth noting that the above is a reflection of what can be found in a more expansive earlier Pali texts where we find the Buddha stating:

"'I shall protect myself,' in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practiced. 'I shall protect others,' in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practiced. Protecting oneself one protects others; protecting others one protects oneself. And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation. And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by compassion and loving kindness." -- S 52,8

While the Theravada lacks the profound mythic structure of the bodhisattva doctrine as developed by the Mahayanists, it casts lovingkindness and compassion into a far more prosaic, down to earth, practical level of practice:

Of these the worse is he who to one angry
Replies with wrath.
Do not reply with wrath to one who's angry
And win a battle hard to win!
You course then for the weal of both,
Yourself and of the other one.
You understand the other's angry mood,
Remaining mindful and at peace.
-- S i 162

All tremble at punishment.
Life is dear to all.
Put yourself in the place of others;
kill none nor have another killed.
-- Dhp 130

What should be done by one skillful in good
So as to gain the State of Peace is this:
Let him be able, and upright and straight,
Easy to speak to, gentle, and not proud,
Contented too, supported easily,
With few tasks, and living very lightly;
His faculties serene, prudent, and modest,
Unswayed by the emotions of the clans;
And let him never do the slightest thing
That other wise men might hold blamable.
(And let him think:) "In safety and in bliss
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Whatever breathing beings there may be.
No matter whether they are frail or firm,
With none excepted, be they long or big
Or middle-sized, or be they short or small
Or thick, as well as those seen or unseen,
Or whether they are dwelling far or near,
Existing or yet seeking to exist.
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Let no one work another one's undoing
Or even slight him at all anywhere:
And never let them wish each other ill
Through provocation or resentful thought."
And just as might a mother with her life
Protect the son that was her only child,
So let him then for every living thing
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being;
And let him too with love for all the world
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being
Above, below, and all round in between,
Untroubled, with no enemy or foe.
And while he stands or walks or while he sits
Or while he lies down, free from drowsiness,
Let him resolve upon this mindfulness:
This is Divine Abiding here, they say.
But when he has no trafficking with views,
Is virtuous, and has perfected seeing,
And purges greed for sensual desires,
He surely comes no more to any womb.
Sn vv. 143-152

Just as water cools
both good and bad
and washes away all
impurity and dust.

In the same way you should develop thoughts
of love to friend and foe alike,
and having reached perfection in love,
you will attain enlightenment.
JN 168-9

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
Sn 705

I am a friend and helper to all,
I am sympathetic to all living beings.
I develop a mind full of love
and always delight in harmlessness.

I gladden my mind, fill it with joy,
make it immovable and unshakable.
I develop the divine states of mind
not cultivated by evil men.
Thag 648-9

Therefore the meditation on love
should be done for oneself and others.
All should be suffused with love:
this is the teaching of the Buddha.
Miln 384

Whoever makes love grow
boundless, and sets his mind
for seeing the end of birth:
his fetters are worn thin.
It 21

In the enjoyment of meditation, in the fullness of knowledge and in the strength of mindfulness a person has full enlightenment [sambodhi] and is a shelter for many. - Sn 503

“Now, brahmana, it might be that you think: ‘Perhaps the samana Gotama is not free from lust, hate, and delusion even today, which is why he still resorts to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest.’ But you should not think thus. It is because I see two benefits that I still resort to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest: I see a pleasant abiding for myself here and now, and I have compassion for future generations.” (MN.i.23; AN.i.60-1)

The Development of Loving-kindness {Iti 1.27; Iti 19}

This was said by the Lord...

"Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.

"Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon's radiance, but the moon's radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness...

"Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness...

"And just as in the night, at the moment of dawn, the morning star shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant."

For one who mindfully develops
Boundless loving-kindness
Seeing the destruction of clinging,
The fetters are worn away.

If with an uncorrupted mind
He pervades just one being
With loving kindly thoughts,
He makes some merit thereby.

But a noble one produces
An abundance of merit
By having a compassionate mind
Towards all living beings.

Those royal seers who conquered
The earth crowded with beings
Went about performing sacrifices:
The horse sacrifice, the man sacrifice,
The water rites, the soma sacrifice,
And that called "the Unobstructed."

But these do not share even a sixteenth part
Of a well cultivated mind of love,
Just as the entire starry host
Is dimmed by the moon's radiance.

One who does not kill
Nor cause others to kill,
Who does not conquer
Nor cause others to conquer,
Kindly towards all beings —
He has enmity for none.
This too is the meaning of what was said by the Lord, so I heard.


"Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones reflects thus: 'As long as they live, the arahants — abandoning the taking of life — abstain from the taking of life. They dwell with their rod laid down, their knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Today I too, for this day & night — abandoning the taking of life — abstain from the taking of life. I dwell with my rod laid down, my knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. By means of this factor I emulate the arahants, and my Uposatha will be observed. - AN 3.70


In other words, with the Theravada we are not talking about hinayana motivation, nor are we talking about Mahayana motivation, but we are talking about Theravadin motivation that understands fully the need for self cultivation, and that knows well in practical, down to earth terms loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity arising from insight into the selfless interdependence of all phenomena from which the Dhamma is lived for the benefit of all sentient beings.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: compassion

Postby Dan74 » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:43 am

Great selection! Thank you, Tilt.

:bow: :bow: :bow:
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Re: compassion

Postby appicchato » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:35 am

If anyone can set the world straight on this matter, it's the tilt... :thumbsup:
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Re: compassion

Postby plwk » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:45 am

If anyone can set the world straight on this matter, it's the tilt... :thumbsup:

Ah Bhante...I thought the Buddha had already done that, no? :tongue:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: compassion

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:19 am

plwk wrote:
If anyone can set the world straight on this matter, it's the tilt... :thumbsup:

Ah Bhante...I thought the Buddha had already done that, no?

The Buddha certainly did; however, I am just clearing up a bit of confusion brought when the Mahayana notion of hinayana, being of selfish motivation, gets wrongly applied to the Theravada and the Pali suttas.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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