Bindi

Can compassion really be cultivated?

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Though I agree that compassion is an indication of spiritual achievement, I question whether deliberately acting compassionately is the way to actually become compassionate. Deliberately acting compassionately might appear to be a positive action that makes everyone concerned feel better, but because it is a choice, which therefore comes from duality, what is to stop ego from viewing this as proof of ones spiritual nature, from thinking “I am doing better, I was so selfless and compassionate today” – isn’t this just congratulating oneself and spiritualising ego?

 

The only way I can see to becoming compassionate is to remove the mental and emotional and egoic restrictions on allowing our true compassionate nature to shine forth, isn’t anything else just adding to the structured self that we have created?  

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Well said and very insightful, Bindi, thank you.

You've summarized the Dzogchen approach.

I also think this is analogous to the approach of Wu Wei in Daoism. 

 

That said, I also think there is something to deliberately acting with compassion. 

While we remain deluded and confused, acting on behalf of others is still preferable to acting selfishly and practicing imperfect compassion makes us more familiar with the real thing and perhaps brings us at least a bit closer. 

 

This is the foundation of the Mahayana approach in Buddhism - we work towards personal liberation with the express intention of improving our ability to help others. 

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I find that the more I dissolve my ego, the more compassionate I become. I don't need to think about it, or create it, it is something that is right there. But I need to continually clean away what comes between it and everything else. Ironically it seems quite easy - I just stop doing the things that maintain my buffers. Over time the buffers go away.

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...

You've summarized the Dzogchen approach.

...

Perhaps you could summarize the differences between the relative bodhicittas of the lower schools and the Bon Dzogchen bodhicitta? Edited by Tibetan_Ice
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Perhaps you could summarize the differences between the relative bodhicittas of the lower schools and the the Bon Dzogchen bodhicitta?

 

What is the difference between bodhicitta and relative bodhicitta?

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Bodhicitta can demolish the mind so quickly the mind and ego will rebel because they see it as death.

Bodhicitta is so powerful that it sees everywhere into all the planes.

Bodhicitta is the key to all authentic paths.

Edited by Tibetan_Ice

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Bodhicitta can demolish the mind so quickly the mind and ego will rebel because they see it as death.

Bodhicitta is so powerful that it sees everywhere into all the planes.

Bodhicitta is the key to all authentic paths.

 

 

I don't really get this, Bodhichitta would entail wisdom mind + compassion + no ego already wouldn't it?

 

I think my issue is with relative Bodhichitta, and the oft proposed method of achieving the compassion component of Bodhichitta - 'Do something nice for someone to make yourself feel good' versus the method from your link of practicing "meditations on equalizing and exchanging yourself and others, and consider[ing] others as more important than yourself".

 

 

  • 'Equalizing self and others’ means recognizing the equality of yourself and others in wishing to find happiness and wishing to avoid suffering.
  • ‘Exchanging self and others’ means giving your own happiness to other sentient beings, and taking their suffering upon yourself.
  • ‘Considering others as more important than yourself’ means setting aside your own benefit and accomplishing the benefit of others.

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Perhaps you could summarize the differences between the relative bodhicittas of the lower schools and the Bon Dzogchen bodhicitta?

 

Are you referring to relative vs absolute bodhicitta?

Relative bodhicitta is cultivating the aspiration to achieve liberation in order to benefit all sentient beings.

Absolute bodhicitta is a direct insight into the abiding nature of things - stong pa nyid.

 

In Bön Dzogchen practice, both are engaged. Relative bodhicitta is cultivated in the foundational practices - the ngöndro.

As we develop a direct connection to the natural state, absolute bodhicitta emerges spontaneously.

 

I'm afraid I'm not knowledgeable enough about all nine vehicles to give a much more detailed summary. 

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In terms of neuroscience deliberately and intentionally working with relative compassion will increase those pathways and connections in the brain. Then you are likely to get on with others better and feel more fulfilled , therefore reducing stress. So in that sense compassion can be cultivated.

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I don't really get this, Bodhichitta would entail wisdom mind + compassion + no ego already wouldn't it?

 

(Absolute) Bodhicitta is the direct experience of the abiding nature. The abiding nature is wisdom mind, it is perfect compassion, it is absent the ego. A direct experience of this is essentially a non-dual experience. All beings and all things are directly experienced as not other therefore perfect compassion is effortless. You care for others exactly as you would care for yourself. Putting others before self has no meaning when they are one and the same. Very hard to put this in words. 

 

 

I think my issue is with relative Bodhichitta, and the oft proposed method of achieving the compassion component of Bodhichitta - 'Do something nice for someone to make yourself feel good' versus the method from your link of practicing "meditations on equalizing and exchanging yourself and others, and consider[ing] others as more important than yourself".

 

 

  • 'Equalizing self and others’ means recognizing the equality of yourself and others in wishing to find happiness and wishing to avoid suffering.
  • ‘Exchanging self and others’ means giving your own happiness to other sentient beings, and taking their suffering upon yourself.
  • ‘Considering others as more important than yourself’ means setting aside your own benefit and accomplishing the benefit of others.

You have good reason to have issues with this - these are valid insights. One of my favorite teachers is Anthony Demello. He speaks extensively about the nature of charity, generosity, and compassion. He points out that nearly all acts of compassion and generosity are ultimately selfish. He points out three forms of charity -

1. Giving oneself the pleasure of pleasing oneself 

2. Giving oneself the pleasure of pleasing others - more sophisticated but still self-based

3. Pleasing others to avoid feeling bad about oneself - the lowest form

 

If you're not familiar and have any interest in him, I would highly recommend checking out one of his books or his CD set - Wake Up to Life

 

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If I was a better artist, I´d draw a cartoon.  Maybe a picture of a woman drowning and a bunch of would-be Buddhists argueing with each other on the riverbank about the nature of compassion.  

 

Buddhist number one: Does anybody want to jump in and save that woman?

 

Buddhist number two: It wouldn´t be a truly compassionate act because I¨m still acting from a place of EGO.

 

Buddhist number three: Life saving only seems compassionate in a relative samsaric sense.  Lets continue to meditate in emptiness.

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Though I agree that compassion is an indication of spiritual achievement, I question whether deliberately acting compassionately is the way to actually become compassionate. Deliberately acting compassionately might appear to be a positive action that makes everyone concerned feel better, but because it is a choice, which therefore comes from duality, what is to stop ego from viewing this as proof of ones spiritual nature, from thinking “I am doing better, I was so selfless and compassionate today” – isn’t this just congratulating oneself and spiritualising ego?

 

The only way I can see to becoming compassionate is to remove the mental and emotional and egoic restrictions on allowing our true compassionate nature to shine forth, isn’t anything else just adding to the structured self that we have created?

On a relative level, yes that is true. It is a "fake it until you make it" type of thing.

 

At the absolute level, it is a different story.

 

One does not become compassionate.

 

One does not remove the mental, emotional and egoic restrictions.

 

One activates the love that is hidden in the heart and it removes the mental, emotional and egoic restrictions for you!

 

In other terms, absolute Bodhicitta is already compassionate, loving, blissful, nonegoic, nondual, nonconceptual, vast, luminous, makes you feel like you are everything, like being bathed in a pure ocean of love.

 

What do you truly love, Bindi?

 

When you feel from your heart, what do you love?

 

Do you love yourself?

 

Do you love your heart?

 

Are you thankful that your heart selflessly keeps pumping for the benefit of all the other organs and parts of the body?

 

If you send your heart some love, thankfulness and appreciation, does it activate tingles?

 

Can you remain in the "loving your heart" long enough to precipitate great vibrations of tingles? They start in the chest and fan out.

 

Does the love become so intense and pleasurable that it overtakes your mind, you can't think anymore? Doesn't it wipe out your ego? Isn't it much purer than just emotions?

 

You are activating the pool of rigpa which surrounds your heart. The absolute Bodhicitta.

 

If you cultivate that, by truly loving, it will come out to visit you. It resembles clear water.

 

If you hold a vision of something or someone you truly love in your mind's eye, just between the brows, you can cause the clear water to spring up from the heart and you will see it.

 

Find the true love inside your being then work with it.

 

Bodhicitta is the key.

 

:)

Edited by Tibetan_Ice
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If I was a better artist, I´d draw a cartoon.  Maybe a picture of a woman drowning and a bunch of would-be Buddhists argueing with each other on the riverbank about the nature of compassion.  

 

Buddhist number one: Does anybody want to jump in and save that woman?

 

Buddhist number two: It wouldn´t be a truly compassionate act because I¨m still acting from a place of EGO.

 

Buddhist number three: Life saving only seems compassionate in a relative samsaric sense.  Lets continue to meditate in emptiness.

 

Your comment made me smile. But past experience tells me that it will be taken as a criticism of Buddhism, rather than an insightful observation of the complexities of our human nature. When conscious reflection comes to the fore, spontaneity is lost - especially when a person seeks to emulate an ideal.  

 

It reminded me of a passage in Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North* where there’s an early mention of him coming across an abandoned baby.  Basho pauses to consider what led to the child’s abandonment. Reflection leads him to determine it Heaven’s will and therefore beyond intervention. He resumes his journey, leaving the two-year-old child to its own devices. Later in the book he is asked by some women who are staying at the same inn as him if they can travel with him, clearly seeking the protection of a pilgrim on sometimes dangerous roads. He declines.

 

(*The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Bashō, Nobuyuki Yuasa (Translator)...

 

In later life Basho turned to Zen Buddhism, and the travel sketched in this volume reflect his attempts to cast off earthly attachments and reach out to spiritual fulfillment. The sketches are written in the "haibun" style--a linking of verse and prose. The title piece, in particular, reveals Basho striving to discover a vision of eternity in the transient world around him and his personal evocation of the mysteries of the universe. )

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Your comment made me smile. But past experience tells me that it will be taken as a criticism of Buddhism

 

 Yes, it occured to me that people might take my comment as a criticism of Buddism as well, so I think I´d better get out ahead of that.  I don´t mean to criticize Buddhism and actually think that Buddhism offers a very genuine path toward heartful compassionate living.  So please, Buddhists, I hope you won´t be offended.

 

Take the practice of Metta.  I think there´s something to it.  If someone wants to become a kinder person and deligently repeats the metta phrases (may all beings be happy, etc), then something good is bound to eventually happen: kindness will take root in the heart.  Can compassion be cultivated?  I absolutely believe that it can, and Buddhism offers the best roadmap I know to get there.

 

That said, I often wonder about the Buddhist conversations here on Taobums.  Perhaps they are just conversations between advanced practitioners that I really shouldn´t be privy to because I don´t understand.  I read all these words and it just seems so intellectual, so analytical -- so divorced from the heart. Hopefully, all this techincal jargon connects somehow with the willingness to actually act compassionately in the real world. 

Edited by liminal_luke
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Perhaps Buddhism resolves my issue though, by cultivating compassion in this particular way - 

  • 'Equalizing self and others’ means recognizing the equality of yourself and others in wishing to find happiness and wishing to avoid suffering.
  • ‘Exchanging self and others’ means giving your own happiness to other sentient beings, and taking their suffering upon yourself.
  • ‘Considering others as more important than yourself’ means setting aside your own benefit and accomplishing the benefit of others.

Then compassion can be cultivated. But it becomes 'skillful' compassion, without sinking into ego strengthening. 

 

BTW, I'm not Buddhist, and my interest in compassion is not from a particular perspective except perhaps it is buddhism that has seen a way through this issue. 

 

I had a dream a long time ago where i was sitting in between 2 twins, the one on my right said 'when i think I think of others, the one on my left said 'when I think I think of myself'. I looked towards the one on my right and said 'I'm trying to be like you' and edged a bit closer to her. 

 

This seems like a personal version of the Buddhist practices above which T_I pointed to in his link, and something for me to contemplate on further to resolve my question. 

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On a relative level, yes that is true. It is a "fake it until you make it" type of thing.

 

At the absolute level, it is a different story.

 

One does not become compassionate.

 

One does not remove the mental, emotional and egoic restrictions.

 

One activates the love that is hidden in the heart and it removes the mental, emotional and egoic restrictions for you!

 

In other terms, absolute Bodhicitta is already compassionate, loving, blissful, nonegoic, nondual, nonconceptual, vast, luminous, makes you feel like you are everything, like being bathed in a pure ocean of love.

 

What do you truly love, Bindi?

 

When you feel from your heart, what do you love?

 

Do you love yourself?

 

Do you love your heart?

 

Are you thankful that your heart selflessly keeps pumping for the benefit of all the other organs and parts of the body?

 

If you send your heart some love, thankfulness and appreciation, does it activate tingles?

 

Can you remain in the "loving your heart" long enough to precipitate great vibrations of tingles? They start in the chest and fan out.

 

Does the love become so intense and pleasurable that it overtakes your mind, you can't think anymore? Doesn't it wipe out your ego? Isn't it much purer than just emotions?

 

You are activating the pool of rigpa which surrounds your heart. The absolute Bodhicitta.

 

If you cultivate that, by truly loving, it will come out to visit you. It resembles clear water.

 

If you hold a vision of something or someone you truly love in your mind's eye, just between the brows, you can cause the clear water to spring up from the heart and you will see it.

 

Find the true love inside your being then work with it.

 

Bodhicitta is the key.

 

:)

 

I can see what you’re saying, but I will always prefer the removal of limiting conditions versus the cultivation of the positive. I like the sense in Advaita that we can only truly know what is not Self, and by stripping away what is not Self which is the only possible platform I can work from, then ultimately what will be left is the unknowable Self that for me can not be imagined. This is the only logical way for me.

 

 

But then because of my almost absolute insistence on this via negativa, the issue of cultivating compassion did become a real question for me, though a solution was pointed out through your earlier question and subsequent link as I mentioned above J

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Supposedly a part of our soul that is linked to our heart (and presumably compassion at some level) is the particular destiny we have that will take us towards greater balance, greater centered-ness.

Naturally this is different for each of us. We all come from different lineages of energy through space and time, all defined by their differences within the whole. And yet despite the differences, we can each walk this same path to balance, and we can each discover that it leads to greater open-hearted-ness. To walk this path we simply listen, follow, and change what doesn't lead to greater integrity.

If one only does what others want, perhaps that is their way. And yet I also see people who are trapped enabling other people and unable to serve themselves. So I think it works both ways. Some people are selfish and need to open. Some people are too open and don't know how to be centered within themselves. Giving and receiving are one, yet sometimes we do not accept what returns to us.

In great compassion the heart is open. When this compassion is centered and balanced, accepting and trusting all in peace, open yet not stirring, when giving and receiving are one simultaneously, perhaps this reaches what is called awakening.

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In terms of ultimate compassion there is a compassion inherent in the universe, similar to gravity in that there is a pull of love which draws us back in after we have drifted too far into a sense of seperation from the whole. This isn't an earned or cultivated compassion, anyone can realise it even if you are a mass murderer.

 

Also the higher forms of compassion are very hard to understand intellectually, for example the compassionate force represented by the wrathful bodhisattva deities can cut through you like a knife and can feel terrible, but ultimately works in your best interests. I know someone who once went to get Darsham from Papaji in India and one time Papaji completely exploded in furious anger at him tearing him to pieces, he thought he would leave and that Papaji was just a crazy man but all the other deciples told him he would realise that it was a great blessing, and in time he did realise that it was great prajna compassion in action.

 

I think many of our ideas around love and compassion can be quite immature and sugary, which is the risk when trying to cultivate it from our own limited understanding.

Edited by Jetsun
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 Yes, it occured to me that people might take my comment as a criticism of Buddism as well, so I think I´d better get out ahead of that.  I don´t mean to criticize Buddhism and actually think that Buddhism offers a very genuine path toward heartful compassionate living.  So please, Buddhists, I hope you won´t be offended.

 

Take the practice of Metta.  I think there´s something to it.  If someone wants to become a kinder person and deligently repeats the metta phrases (may all beings be happy, etc), then something good is bound to eventually happen: kindness will take root in the heart.  Can compassion be cultivated?  I absolutely believe that it can, and Buddhism offers the best roadmap I know to get there.

 

That said, I often wonder about the Buddhist conversations here on Taobums.  Perhaps they are just conversations between advanced practitioners that I really shouldn´t be privy to because I don´t understand.  I read all these words and it just seems so intellectual, so analytical -- so divorced from the heart. Hopefully, all this techincal jargon connects somehow with the willingness to actually act compassionately in the real world. 

 

If anyone feel offended, you've given them a wonderful opportunity to bring their practice to that feeling. 

Please don't limit your posting here - anyone who follows your posts knows you meant no offense.

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I once stepped into the middle of a dog fight. One neutered male, playing roughly with a bitch when the bitches mother intervened and attacked the male. I threw my hat at the mom who distracted long enough to let go of the males ear, only momentarily, and then her attack resumed. I spotted a length of 2x4 lumber and employed It to separate the dogs, using it as a lever.

 

It was over extremely fast. The dogs were neighbors and had played together on a regular basis. My neighbor watching at the time, and clapped afterward stating that my actions were incredibly appropriate. It was for me an example of wu wei.

 

I truly had a dog in the fight! The neutered male, a lean 85 lb. Rottweiler, three years old named Dude was resident dog at the farm at that time. The mom was a Golden Retriever 8 or so years old. The pup was a solid 50 pounds of sass and muscle. I didn't want anyone injured canine nor human. I and the neighbor were chatting when the fight broke out. Dude had a few teeth punctures in his ear (an awful lot of blood) but was back to his happy go self in no time.

 

A great ground hog hunter, with a soft mouth, Dude is truly missed.

Does your dog bite I was often asked?

Not without reason or notice. And not with any malice.

 

I was known to allow and enjoy the local dogs playing with in reason. Still would but the neighbor hood is being developed.

 

I find myself acting without thought from time to time with no regrets,

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I think many of our ideas around love and compassion can be quite immature and sugary, which is the risk when trying to cultivate it from our own limited understanding.

 

Agreed. 

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Forgive me for coming late to the conversation.

 

A powerful way for me in work for example.

 

I use to be one of those guys who would look at everyone around me and say that is my competition. How can I be better than them? How can I get noticed?

 

It would motivate me for about 10 minutes because it is hard to think of how to be better than a bunch of people.

 

With regard to bodhicitta...

 

The difference is how can I be of service? How can I help them? How can I help my team, my boss my department?

 

Ideas are just that a thought. An idea isn't good if only I like it, it is good if others like it. I have realized everyone knows who's idea it is so making it a we instead of an I is powerful.

 

When it is done to help others with no attachment and others buy in, it is beautiful. When you don't worry about you but promoting others that is leadership and bodhicitta.

 

thinking of ways to help others is so much easier than thinking of ways to be better than someone. The ideas just flow, they won't always be good but it is the effort and when one works, it is beautiful. It is the easiest thing to do compared to trying to thinking of ways of being better than someone else.

 

This is a start. Seeing with compassion where others are stuck looking at the I instead of from another's point of view is an growth from compassion.

 

It is all bodhicitta.. It is a means of cultivating bodhicitta...

Edited by Jonesboy
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