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Is traditional Buddist compassion hollow?
June 22, 2009
10:49 pm
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truthBtold
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Is traditional Buddhist compassion hollow?

In traditional Buddhism you don't hear much talk about love, joy, and romance. That is because the essence of traditional Buddhism is to keep one's focus on suffering and death. This constant remembrance of the negative is supposed to help one become detached from life and thus attain the ultimate freedom of nirvana. The word 'compassion' is used by traditional Buddhists repetitiously and unconsciously. Buddhist monks are sometimes taught to visualize sick and starving people and then feel compassion for their suffering. Christians are taught to feed the sick, cure the ill, and love their spouses and children dearly. In this way Christianity is a superior religion to Buddhism, because Christian compassion leads to helpful positive action, and is not just a self-absorbed, self-centered pretense.

Unlike Christians, Buddhists are not known for doing great charity work, because the Buddhist focus is always on the negative. Why develop a cure for a disease if nature is just going to come up with a new disease sooner or latter to take its place? Aging, decay, and death are always on the Buddhist's mind, so why bother fighting a futile battle against our inevitable physical collapse? If your religion makes suffering the centerpiece of your attention, you will not nurture life to make it better. All your effort is invested in trying to escape life, not in trying to improve the art of living. If your attitude is defeatist at its core, then why bother to try any positive effort? Tibet was in a state of physical ruin when the Chinese army simply walked into that country in October of 1950. The Chinese took control with little effective resistance because Tibetans had not developed a strong and viable society.

Is attachment to guru better than attachment to money or sex?

Another great problem for Buddhism has been the excessive worship of gurus, which is an irrational contradiction for a religion that puts such a great emphasis on detachment. Intense love can be very positive, but worship and idolization quickly degrade into enslavement. Just because a human being realizes his or her own true identity does not make that person a deity. I have been with many teachers, some of whom were fully enlightened, but none of whom were perfect human beings. It is my understanding that all of the enlightened ones remain fallible human beings, with weaknesses and the potential for corruption. Self-realization is not self-perfection in any total sense. It could more accurately be described as self-expansion. You become vast inside, but not perfect and not all-knowing. Even after full enlightenment you can still make tremendous blunders of judgment.

Existential intelligence, the knowledge of one's self, does not automatically give you a higher IQ or a degree in science. The enlightened men I have know have all been pretty miserable at science, mathematics, and economics. They end up living in ivory towers, part created by themselves and part created by their own disciples. Spiritual teachers can even lose their basic common sense through lack of contact with the more ordinary world we live in. The last person you should go to for advice about politics, health issues, or questions of science is the guru on the mountain, because he is divorced from the world that works, creates wealth, and continues the human race.

For Westerners, the East represents an imagined source of pure spiritual inspiration. Unfortunately, for many poor Asian monks and teachers, the West has meant a source of income and a new livelihood. Many in the East have long felt that only Asians could comprehend the inner art of meditation, and their focus in the West has been largely motivated by a desire to raise funds. If you are living in a hut in India or ramshackle monastery in Nepal, a journey to the West is an opportunity to increase your standard of living. Many Asians wrongly assume they own meditation as if it was a proprietary cultural commodity. Westerners must beware that the East is no more innocent than the West, and many Asian gurus are just as impure in their motivation as our own homegrown variety of spiritual opportunists.

Source:

http://home.att.net/~meditatio.....dhism.html

June 23, 2009
11:30 pm
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You make some good points.

June 27, 2009
8:58 pm
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Compassion is compassion.

June 28, 2009
2:12 pm
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WD--

HI!

Is compassion truly compassion, if it is not truly felt and then (more or less) followed up by some kind of action or reaction?

June 29, 2009
8:09 am
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compassion, Noun, a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another - source

compassion, Noun, a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. - source

The "strong desire to alleviate the suffering", according to the Buddha's teachings, needs to be accompanied by wisdom. I have heard Buddhist monks say that compassion without wisdom is dangerous and wisdom without compassion is cold and heartless. They say that the 'bird' in order to fly needs two wings. Likewise to be effective in alleviating suffering both wisdom and compassion are needed to achieve this 'highflying' goal. Thus the wisdom of a Buddha is required to know how best to help relieve the suffering in the world. He has given us the path to this wisdom in his teachings if we want to look. It is called the Eight Fold Path. If we don't want to look then that's OK by the Buddhists too.

June 29, 2009
11:39 am
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Tez,

So is having compassion with an emapthic ear, and the state of mind to be logical in our response or non-response the healthy way of offering or having compassion? Just curious.

Peace to you, H & P

June 29, 2009
7:24 pm
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Healing.. and peace

On the 29-Jun-09 you asked for my opinion when you wrote:

"So is having compassion with an emapthic ear, and the state of mind to be logical in our response or non-response the healthy way of offering or having compassion?"

Although possibly a component of wisdom, logic and rationality don't equate with wisdom, IMHO. I think that a person could be very logical and rational but at the same time be unwise in his or her behavior. Wisdom implies insights and realizations that may not be present in a highly logical and rational thinking person. The right hemisphere of the brain is said to be intuitive and wholistic whereas the left hemisphere is said to be logical and analytical. Some of us are very left brain biassed while others are right brain biassed. Jung was advocating the happy interaction between the 'animus' and the 'anima' within the one individual. This implies that Jung would have advocated left and right brain activity together determining what an individual thought and did rather than a predominance of either hemisphere. So perhaps, as well as having compassion, having wisdom implies having the happy interaction of logic, rationality, insights and realizations in determining how we act in trying to alleviate our own sufferings and those of others.

May you be happy and content.

June 29, 2009
8:55 pm
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truthBtold

Regarding your reference:
http://home.att.net/~meditatio.....dhism.html given above, I scan read the web page and noticed several misunderstandings of mainstream Buddhist doctrine in it. Given the author's claim of being absolutely fallible, I can easily warm to his article and overlook these misunderstandings. I also claim the same absolute fallibility with the author in what I write below.

One glaring and often repeated misunderstanding stands out at the opening of his article. In the opening paragraph, the author states:

"... the evidence suggests Siddhartha wished to reform Hinduism rather than reject it completely. Siddhartha Gautama died a Hindu, not a Buddhist, just as Jesus died a Jew, not a Christian."

I would beg to disagree with this statement. My understanding - also fallible - is that there are many major fundamental differences between Buddhism and Hinduism that preclude overlaying either upon the other. Hindus believe in the reincarnation of the soul or 'atma' whereas the Buddha taught the doctrine of 'anatma'; that the soul does not exist to reincarnate. Buddhist beliefs regarding reincarnation differ greatly as a result. The Buddha taught that all is the result of interdependent yet not independent, separate processes. All separation is an illusion. Thus no independent soul exists only continuous interacting indistinguishable processes that are arbitrarily delineated by deluded minds and labeled as entities. The Hindus believe in cyclic time; that is, kalpas that recycle eternally. My understanding of this is that something that I am doing now, I will be repeating in exactly the same way cyclically over and over periodically for eternity. Hindus believe in 4 kalpas, the golden, silver, bronze, iron age together with a short confluence age during which divine intervention causes a repeat of the previous golden age starting a new four kalpa cycle that repeats identically.

The Buddha did not ascribe to this major belief about periodic, cyclic time at all.

Hindus believe in many Gods,whereas the Buddha taught that the creator God does not exist.

My understanding is that the Buddha abandoned Hinduism as folly after nearly dying practicing fundamental Hindu asceticism seeking release from suffering. After his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, amongs many other things he saw that the middle path between the extremes asceticism and hedonism as being the way to live life.

The Buddha abhorred animal sacrifices that the Hindus made to their Gods. He spoke out strongly against killing sentient beings for any reason, animals included. He showed the ramifications for one's own mind in this regard.

The list of major differences between Buddhist and Hindu beliefs goes on.

Rather than reforming Hinduism, Buddha wanted to show all of humanity the causes of suffering and how to avoid same by skilful living.
The Buddha advocated turning within and seeking the causes of suffering there not begging some Hindu God or any other to save us. When it comes to our own dissatisfactions, the Buddha put our salvation firmly into our own hands claiming that we are our own 'saviors', no other. Hindus believe that their Gods can and would relieve their suffering if sought through prayer, meditation and holy actions. According to Hinduism, Raja Yoga is the supreme union with God that is supposed to burn away 'sin' and purify us. The Buddha taught no such thing. From my understanding of the Buddha's teachings he taught that no creator God exists.

Had Christ taught that no creator God exists there would be no bible as we know it today. Christ would not have been reforming Judaism as I believe that he was. He would have been trying to destroy it! The same could be said about the Buddha and Hinduism. The Buddha was trying to free the Hindi people from their superstitious beliefs completely not just reform those beliefs, IMHO.

June 29, 2009
9:03 pm
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Tez,

Your so smart, I did read what you wrote one time in a book, of course it wasn't worded the same way, and I understand what your saying.

If I recall correctly, I want to say I read similar in "Three Faces of the Mind"... That recalling part of my brain (ha ha ha) isn't exactly working the way it once did!

I'm happy, content, and even pretty peaceful, anyway most of the time.

Healing and Peace

July 5, 2009
7:16 pm
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"The Diamond Sutra beats with two hearts: one is wisdom and the other is compassion. To be wise is to know and understand the essence of awareness. To be compassionate is to know and understand the essence of intention. In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha shows us that ultimately, compassion and wisdom are one." - Master Hsing Yun

July 5, 2009
7:23 pm
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Tez,

In regard to the July 5th posting -

"The Diamond Sutra beats with two hearts: one is wisdom and the other is compassion. To be wise is to know and understand the essence of awareness. To be compassionate is to know and understand the essence of intention. In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha shows us that ultimately, compassion and wisdom are one." - Master Hsing Yun

The same was also is written by Deepak Chopra in one of his books, of course again it was written using differant words but the same meaning is all the same.

July 5, 2009
7:27 pm
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What is the essence of awareness?

What is the essence of intention?

Are either or both of the above hollow?

July 5, 2009
7:46 pm
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Healing.. and peace

Would Chopra's book to which you refer, be "God and Buddha - a dialogue" ?

See this site for a reference to this book.

July 5, 2009
8:53 pm
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Tez,

No it wasn't in "God and Buddha"... I will have to look through a list of his books in order to let you know which one. I kind of want to say I read it in "Jesus A Story of Enlightment" or even in one of his "Seven Laws of Sucess" books. It was at least 10 years ago that I read it, but I'll have to look through them to really know which one of his books I read it in.

I recall when reading it, it was like a light bulb went off, because it is so true on how we are able to come to this point in our life, a state of enlightment.

July 5, 2009
9:02 pm
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Tez,

I believe the essence of awareness gives a person the essence of intention, without having the essence of awareness, I'm not so sure if someone can see or offer the true essence of intention.

July 11, 2009
9:43 am
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Dear Tez
What a delight to see you posting once again, I have missed your very kind and thought provoking messages. If it pleases you I for one would love to hear more of the insights of the Dalai Lama. Be well and keep seeking...Love in recovery,Peace4all

July 14, 2009
5:46 am
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Healing.. and peace

On the 5-Jul-09 you wrote:

"... I believe the essence of awareness gives a person the essence of intention ..."

Yesssss! I wholeheartedly agree. I had to churn this statement before I grasped what was at the core of what you said.

I believe that the essence of awareness emanates from Pure Mind unconditioned by the sense organs and all the processing aggregates. This essence of awareness is able to gain awareness at the deepest level the underpinning of intentionality.

The essence of awareness, unobscured by the conditioned mind, is able to 'see' the essense of intention whether that 'underpinning of intention' is adulterated by previous conditioning or is pure compassion emanating from the very nature of Pure Mind.

July 14, 2009
5:48 am
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Peace4all

Thanks for your kind words too. You would like me to ressurect the Dalai Lama Insights thread? OK.

July 14, 2009
9:30 am
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Tez,

I believe, to locate the essence of awareness takes removing all conditioned and learned behaviors. By letting go of all the conitioned and learned behaviors a person is then left with the true essence of whom they are without the barriers that block us from obtaining true peace, love, and awareness.

Once a person is able to let go, it is then that one can truly offer the essence of intention, which is the true essence of empathy, kindness, and loving compassion.

July 14, 2009
10:41 pm
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Healing.. and peace

Yep! I agree.

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