Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

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Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby DonnieRage » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:54 pm

I'm new to Buddhism and I'm also (unfortunately) new to feelings like empathy and compassion. I've been so surrounded by anger my whole life and I've recently found myself in need of anger "management" and studying and practicing buddhism has helped me tremendously turn my attitude around and change my overall mindset to a much more positive and thoughtful one. However, I feel stuck. I find it hard to feel any compassion for people who are rapists, child molesters, corrupt politicians, dirty corporate "higher ups" and the likes. I'm not sure how to approach this situation. I try to feel some form of understanding but I just can't seem to see past how "evil" these people can be. I would greatly appreciate any advice or insight.
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Re: Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby Coyote » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:51 pm

It might help to see the compassion as something for your sake, rather than for the person who has done terrible things. You gain nothing, and lose much, by lack of compassion, where as a truly compassionate attitude is a beautiful thing.
All unwholesome acts, not matter how small or great, are done under the influence of ignorance and craving. It is the same for you as it is for them.
Lastly, I would say don't beat yourself up about it - is is perhaps "natural" to have some resistance here. But it is to be overcome with continued practice.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:30 pm

DonnieRage wrote:I'm new to Buddhism and I'm also (unfortunately) new to feelings like empathy and compassion. I've been so surrounded by anger my whole life and I've recently found myself in need of anger "management" and studying and practicing buddhism has helped me tremendously turn my attitude around and change my overall mindset to a much more positive and thoughtful one. However, I feel stuck. I find it hard to feel any compassion for people who are rapists, child molesters, corrupt politicians, dirty corporate "higher ups" and the likes. I'm not sure how to approach this situation. I try to feel some form of understanding but I just can't seem to see past how "evil" these people can be. I would greatly appreciate any advice or insight.

Hi,
are you only what you have done wrong or are you also more multidimentional than that?
If you can answer "yes" then the same is true of people like you describe having issue with in your metta practice!
We are all suffering and having problems in one way shape or form, and our ignorance is the main issue. our ill-will, desire, and craving manifest in skillful and unskillful, helpful and unhelpful ways so if you only focus on one aspect of these people you are objectifying them and not treating them as human beings, which in turn makes it harder to see the suffering they themselves hold.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby LG2V » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:15 am

Donnie,

I suggest developing these positive qualities step by step. It will become easier to extend feelings of goodwill to all beings if you start first on individuals for whom you already feel affection, such as a beloved family member, an infant, a puppy, or a kitten. You can then extend it out to people whom you feel neutral towards. When you feel comfortable, you can try to extend these feelings of goodwill to people you've had problems with or people whom you've had difficulty feeling compassion for. You will eventually get to the point where you can generate strong feelings of goodwill for all beings.

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Through the practice of such meditations you'll develop stronger and steadier feelings of goodwill towards all beings. This is a part of the four Brahmaviharas, known as the "Divine Abidings," as taught in Buddhist meditation. They are:

1.) Metta (Loving-Kindness) - The basic wish for others to be well
2.) Karuna (Compassion) - The wish for others not to suffer
3.) Mudita (Sympathetic Joy) - Delight in others' happiness
4.) Upekkha (Equanimity) - Mental peace and grace, regardless of life's situations

Here are two links that explain these mental states and their development in more detail. There are very many more resources online as well.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... heart.html - An essay explaning these states in more detail. This website is also a major resource for Buddhist scriptures, essays, and other related information.

http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_b.htm - A step-by-step explanation of how to develop these states through meditation. Likewise, this website (http://www.buddhanet.net) is an excellent resource for buddhist materials and compilations as well.


Metta,
LG2V :anjali:
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com
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Re: Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby SarathW » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:29 am

Hi
Well come to Dhammawheel.
Have you studied world history? History mainly all about the bad people you are talking about.
If you look at how history unfolding you will see there is more than one person responsible for those acts.
Sometimes society create criminals. Read the case of Angulimala.
You can makes a small contribution to the society by controlling your own action and understanding the Kamma and Upekkha.

:)
========================
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
Mahatma Ghandi
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Re: Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby DonnieRage » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:33 pm

Thank you all very much for your insight. I'll continue practicing and hopefully, with patience, I'll come to a better understanding.

and yeah, I come from a punk rock background, and having been an outsider most of my life it was so easy to see how society was molding me and the people around me. But I'm trying hard not to blame the government or others for what I do, so I'm also trying to stop blaming them for everything else as well. Maybe that's the "wrong" approach but I don't know yet.
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Re: Empathy and Compassion in Extreme Cases

Postby Kusala » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:01 am

DonnieRage wrote:I'm new to Buddhism and I'm also (unfortunately) new to feelings like empathy and compassion. I've been so surrounded by anger my whole life and I've recently found myself in need of anger "management" and studying and practicing buddhism has helped me tremendously turn my attitude around and change my overall mindset to a much more positive and thoughtful one. However, I feel stuck. I find it hard to feel any compassion for people who are rapists, child molesters, corrupt politicians, dirty corporate "higher ups" and the likes. I'm not sure how to approach this situation. I try to feel some form of understanding but I just can't seem to see past how "evil" these people can be. I would greatly appreciate any advice or insight.


You might want to take a look at "Love In The Extreme" by Ven. Dhammika http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2013/02/l ... treme.html
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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