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Compassion and Tao

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I had often struggled with compassion vs. intellect - which one is 'better', pros and cons, etc. - but I never really understood their relation or why compassion was so heavily taught in some Buddhist contexts. Recently I think I've come to some conclusions which may or may not be helpful but I thought I'd share them anyway. The following is a summary, that hopefully will lead to some interesting discussion.


Skepticism About Compassion as a Technique

I've found that in Buddhism, compassion as a method to Enlightenment or at a minmum a code of ethics is very prominent(aside from some schools such as Zen which focus on more 'mind' methods over 'heart' methods). I couldn't understand how forcing people to be compassionate would do anything but create a false layer or a false 'caring' for other people or their actions whom in reality we really may not care for. Doesn't that just create more 'stuff' to have to be later removed to find Truth? What good does wishing someone well with our mouths/minds when in our hearts we can't stand them or their actions at all?


The Misconception Revealed

Here's where things started to click: compassion is not forcing yourself to like/love someone and treat them well "because you have to". That was the rub for me - why should I have to like everyone? It just didn't make sense... it felt too forced to be truth... so I discarded it as dogma.


But, it is not. There is something deeper, some truth, to practicing compassion and it has to do with the definition.


What I've discovered compassion to be is an extreme empathy. This is probably obvious to a lot of people but wasn't to me! At our core being, at the purest source, the life force itself, the Tao that manifests our being, etc. we are identical. Everything that sits on top of that is conditional. From the time we begin to form concepts and thoughts we begin our conditioning. Every thought, action, movement, desire, etc. of our personality is based on conditioning (either external influences or internal genetic disposition).


So what? Well, therefore compassion is seeing others at their core being and being aware that their actions are just a result of their conditions.


Application of Compassion

So when that person in a hurry cuts us off, or someone insults us, or someone judges us wrongly, etc. We can remember that at the core, we are the same. We share the same life force. We share the same process of conditioning. While this doesn't mean let people walk all over us, it does put situations in a different perspective when dealing with them. We are then able to treat everyone and everything with true compassion.


I hope this was helpful to some.


With love and respect.

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