Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

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Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby eindoofus » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:17 pm

I'm sure I'm thinking too far ahead having barely done Metta meditation, but how does Metta explain compassion for psychopaths? I know the thought of these types of people is going to creep into my mind as I move forward and I don't know how I will reconcile it. These types of people are genetically born with no empathy or remorse. I can feel compassion for someone who has gone off the path due to various reasons, but psychopaths are simply born as cold-blooded individuals.

One might even argue that they are born without a "heart", and yet their extremely happy being themselves. They'll probably be happier than many of us will ever be in this lifetime.

I recall reading a story of a CEO psychopath who took genuine joy in firing workers when the company had to downsize, since he viewed the act of firing as being fun. Not to mention the large quantity of serial killers who are psychopaths who never felt any remorse for their victims.

It's not just that life has led them astray, but they are born this way. How can someone feel compassion for this type of human being?
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:36 pm

Have compassion for them because they do suffer. Regardless of how happy or sad they are, there is still some suffering in their lives; if there wasn't, they would be arahants. Think of how much they may suffer in their next life as a result of the evil they've done, or perhaps focus on their inability to maintain healthy friendships or other personal relationships. Psychopaths may rarely be "sad" but they certainly don't have happiness, especially not the happiness that comes from wholesome compassion and wisdom like that which we find in the Dhamma.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby Aloka » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:38 pm

Hi eindoofus,

I think that perhaps non-referential compassion for all beings comes to us as a result of our continuing Dhamma practice, rather than just through analysis of what we perceive to be their positive and negative qualities.

with kind wishes,

Aloka
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby manas » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:16 pm

eindoofus wrote:I'm sure I'm thinking too far ahead having barely done Metta meditation, but how does Metta explain compassion for psychopaths? I know the thought of these types of people is going to creep into my mind as I move forward and I don't know how I will reconcile it. These types of people are genetically born with no empathy or remorse. I can feel compassion for someone who has gone off the path due to various reasons, but psychopaths are simply born as cold-blooded individuals.

One might even argue that they are born without a "heart", and yet their extremely happy being themselves. They'll probably be happier than many of us will ever be in this lifetime.

I recall reading a story of a CEO psychopath who took genuine joy in firing workers when the company had to downsize, since he viewed the act of firing as being fun. Not to mention the large quantity of serial killers who are psychopaths who never felt any remorse for their victims.

It's not just that life has led them astray, but they are born this way. How can someone feel compassion for this type of human being?


Do you feel angry when you see a cat torturing a small mammal to death? I don't, I just feel a little sad about the cruelty of Nature sometimes, but the cat really isn't capable of compassion, so I'm not angry at it. As for human psychopaths, well I don't like them, just as I don't like cockroaches; but just as I try to treat cockroaches with kindness, so too I try to cultivate compassion for psychopaths, even though they have none themselves.

Feel sorry for the CEO who gets his jollies firing poor workers. He might (think) he is happy in this life, but what kind of kamma must he be building up for the future? He is sowing the seeds of future misery for himself.

Another thing to think about is that, if we could have goodwill for all beings, regardless of who they are or what they have done, that we ourselves would feel much happiness as a result. You don't have to like people to feel goodwill towards them. Forgiving others is really something we do for ourselves, because when we let go of ill-will, it is like a tightness around the heart has been loosened.

But it will be difficult for you to achieve this if you keep pondering over their misdeeds. If you keep thinking about all the terrible things psychopaths have done, you won't get free from ill-will towards them that way. You have to instead redirect your focus to your own body and mind. How does anger or resentment feel inside you? How does goodwill and kindness feel?

:anjali:
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby Ben » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:06 pm

Aloka wrote:Hi eindoofus,

I think that perhaps non-referential compassion for all beings comes to us as a result of our continuing Dhamma practice, rather than just through analysis of what we perceive to be their positive and negative qualities.

with kind wishes,

Aloka


Well said!
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby befriend » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:00 pm

dont move onto the difficult person until you have amply filled your heart with friendliness from the earlier 3 persons,
yourself, a dear friend, and a neutral person. when you have meditated enough with these people there will be so much love in your heart you will automatically feel love for the difficult person.
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby perkele » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:12 pm

When I read this kind of standard speculation that is treated as if it were reality, I can't help but to think: hypocrisy.
Examine your own hatred, or lack thereof, what it is based on and where it leads to. That is something real. Those psychopaths you are fantasizing about, you don't know anything of them. Yet you profess such statements as: They are without compassion. They are born that way. They are happy, probably happier than most. From where do you have this "knowledge"? I'm quite sure you are just making it up. And enough people who don't want to label themselves as psychopaths are usually happy and ready to entertain the same delusional ideas, just for the sake of living in a comfortable fantasy world where they are better than some hypothetical evil bastards.
You want to develop metta, focus on real people in your real life. Life is suffering, for everyone who has not overcome this conceit "I am", better, worse or equal than those psychopaths or the earthworm who lives in darkness.
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Re: Metta meditation and compassion for psychopaths?

Postby daverupa » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:51 pm

perkele wrote:I'm quite sure you are just making it up.


Indeed, and well-spoken overall. At root the problem is to do with the method, I think, of using one's imagination to call (categories of) beings to mind.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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