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The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

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The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:16 pm

.
A year or so ago here I began a thread in which I posed the question, "What is the inverse of Buddhism?" For me, the thought was mostly an exercise in shifting a perspective on Buddhism (mine). An outcome of this for me was a greater and fuller appreciation of what "Buddhism" (Buddhadharma) itself is.

By removing temporarily, or averting, focus from Buddhism, and contemplating instead upon what is or what could be its "opposite", one might more clearly see and appreciate what Buddhism itself is, and possess and utilize a freshened view of it upon coming back to it afterwards. That was the point of my exercise, for myself. But I came to pose the question publicly here, because the shifted perspectives of others might be different even from my own shifted perspective, and so an even more rich picture of Buddhism (and its inverse!) might come out of it, or might have come out of it. Plus, I thought this exercise would be a very good thing to share with those interested.

As I recall, Nonin Roshi gave a good response, a good reply to the question, which I was grateful for, as well as amused by. It personified the inverse, though, something I had not thought of doing, and which was not my approach nor aim.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But now, today, I am thinking of a different matter. It's something which is implicit in Mahayana Buddhism, sometimes taught and spoken of explicitly, but more often skipped-over, and not even mentioned. I'd say it's not the "inverse of Compassion", but a part of Compassion, a part which is important in authentic Mahayana Buddhist practice, but which is simply not taught, in my experience. It seems to have withered on the vine of Mahayana teaching, in the West. This "thing", this aspect of Compassion, is "Sympathetic Joy".

"Compassion" seems popularly to be taken as a Bodhisattva's spontaneous and instantaneous response to the suffering of perceived others (beings). This is what we can call a response to a "negative". But Mahayana Buddhadharma includes a recognition of, and prescription for, a Bodhisattva's true response also to a "positive" -- not a suffering -- and this is the spontaneous and instantaneous appreciation of the joy felt and expressed by others in gladness over successes and other happy doings by, and gifts received, by other beings.

I'd say that the fuller picture, then, of true Compassion in Mahayana is indeed the unbreakable composite of Compassion of the Bodhisattva shown instantaneously in response to beings' suffering, but also Sympathetic Joy in response to beings' happiness. I've been reminding myself of this lately.

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby fukasetsu on Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:32 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:I'd say that the fuller picture, then, of true Compassion in Mahayana is indeed the Compassion of the Bodhisattva shown in response to beings' suffering, but also Sympathetic Joy in response to beings' happiness.

--Joe


Naturally, I never experienced compassion to function in excluding anything.

Even a smile from a stranger on the street, the joy in an animals eye or a child, that smile or joy is the light which stops my mind. Only with suffering the mind of bodhicitta functions that is if the vehicle is clear and wisdom gives compassion its direction. With joy I cant really express it, its just a recognition or "meeting" with no need for a particular direction.
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:59 pm

EDIT:

desert_woodworker wrote:A year or so ago here I began a thread in which I posed the question, "What is the inverse of Buddhism?"

How time passes quickly! It was TWO years ago. That earlier thread is located here:

http://zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=129&t=11192

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby Caodemarte on Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:31 pm

Is this something that has to be taught, like a technique, or something that emerges naturally?
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby fukasetsu on Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:41 pm

Caodemarte wrote:Is this something that has to be taught, like a technique, or something that emerges naturally?


Naturally, spontaneously.

In 4 days, septmeber 5th I will follow the Bodhicaryavatara - FPMT Basic Program in Amsterdam and the week after the Mind training - Lojong course follows. Can do no harm to expand my 'knowledge' or training I'd say, for the sake of all beings. :)
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:12 pm

Cao.,

Caodemarte wrote:Is this something that has to be taught, like a technique, or something that emerges naturally?

Thanks very much for asking that. Let's consider an answer, because ...I can't say that I know THE answer, or even if there is just one. ;)

I state confidently that, at awakening, true Wisdom and true Compassion dawn, and that they are then -- because they are uncovered -- accessible, and that they function spontaneously, simultaneously, and instantaneously, in appropriate response to circumstances just as they arise. There's no hesitation, pondering, or planning. Thus, I'd say that true Compassion in the face of others' suffering and needs is not-learned, and that Sympathetic Joy also equally occurs "naturally", in the awakened state, as one meets beings.

But, there are schools of Buddhist practice which prior to any awakening make deliberate PRACTICES of "compassion", and "loving kindness". The Zen Buddhist school does not, so my experience with such practices is limited, and unsystematic. Presumably, I'd say, the practice of such practices gives the practitioner some experience developing skillful means, even before an awakening dawns. But of course the exercise of such practices is in fact somewhat risky, because the actions one performs in the course of the practices are not yet informed by true Wisdom, as they would be if one were in fact awake. That is, the "acting as-if" can have pitfalls.

Similarly, those same schools also make PRACTICES of Sympathetic Joy, the other facet of Compassion. I know very little about these deliberate practices in detail (can someone help the Forum with information on concrete practices, and their names, perhaps?, also in what school you know them from? Tnx.).

So, to sum up, no, one does not need instruction or dry-runs of practice in Sympathetic Joy for it to arise as a facet of true Compassion at awakening and afterward.

And, yes, one will be instructed in Sympathetic Joy and a practice of it, if one practices in schools where it is taken-up as, say, a part of the overall yoga of the school's tradition.

best regards,

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby fukasetsu on Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:35 am

desert_woodworker wrote:But, there are schools of Buddhist practice which prior to any awakening make deliberate PRACTICES of "compassion", and "loving kindness". The Zen Buddhist school does not, so my experience with such practices is limited, and unsystematic. Presumably, I'd say, the practice of such practices gives the practitioner some experience developing skillful means, even before an awakening dawns. But of course the exercise of such practices is in fact somewhat risky, because the actions one performs in the course of the practices are not yet informed by true Wisdom, as they would be if one were in fact awake. That is, the "acting as-if" can have pitfalls.

Similarly, those same schools also make PRACTICES of Sympathetic Joy, the other facet of Compassion. I know very little about these deliberate practices in detail (can someone help the Forum with information on concrete practices, and their names, perhaps?, also in what school you know them from? Tnx.).


Joe,

If I understand correctly as I had a conversation with a teacher from the Maitreya insitute.
Such a 'practise' is not for projecting imitated compassion on conceptual beings, for someone still heavily fixated on their animated character might do and by that way might merely be imitating a conceptual idea of compassion which could result in spiritual-bypassing.
But rather it is 'practised' with the heart one one's own mind, it is good medicine for the 3 poisons, and the practise results into the practisioner coming to full understanding the workings of his own mind, the 'practise' is therefore not intended to arouse compassion for all beings in an "external" modus, but rather an "internal practise" a matter of the Heart, not mind. The outcome will vary depending on the practisioner, as a beginner or 'advanced'. And the practisioner will be guided in this 'practise' based on the individual instead of a group practise, even in a group setting. But it's about the practisioner itself, not the "external beings" if the practisioner "transforms" his conduct, understands the workings of mind, it will have a positive outcome on all beings the individual will meet in daily life, whether "deluded or awakened" I doubt this 'practise' can be imitated, since the heart has no memory for poison nor imagination. A conceptual practise of compassion can't be called a practise. But it's up to everyone who "practises" such practises to take responsibility and practise with their whole being, and not in a part time sense. The practise is actually the "practise" of arousing the bodhicitta mind.

As known in the Shobogenzo as "hotso mujo shin" which is the [crucial] first step on the Bodhisattva path.
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:22 am

thanks, Marcel,

fukasetsu wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:But of course the exercise of such practices is in fact somewhat risky, because the actions one performs in the course of the practices are not yet informed by true Wisdom, as they would be if one were in fact awake. That is, the "acting as-if" can have pitfalls.

But rather it is 'practised' with the heart one one's own mind, it is good medicine for the 3 poisons, and the practise results into the practisioner coming to full understanding the workings of his own mind,

This is just the unwarranted assumption that I perennially question, and is the root cause for all to continue to fear (in all true Compassion) that such practices can have pitfalls.

The assumption, there, and which you seem to have faith in (or perhaps you are just quoting what the Vajrayana teacher discussed with you), is namely, the assumption that, before awakening, you know "the heart of one's own mind". But, the fact is just the opposite. You do NOT know anything of the sort before awakening. CAUTION!

I understand, as you write, that the presumed benefits of deliberate practices of "loving kindness", "metta", etc., are meant for oneself, but to the extent that they involve other beings (who are not necessarily sangha-mates practicing the same artificial actions), serious concern about pitfalls was always, and remains, justified.

There's no actual debate about this, so I would like to return to the main topic, which is the Bodhisattva's participating in and experiencing Sympathetic Joy as a result of the happiness of beings, and not only Compassion as a result of their suffering. As I say, I'm reminding myself of this dual-functioning of true Compassion (emphasis on "true") these days. And, as Caodemarte writes above (and I reply), Sympathetic Joy need not be taught, nor practiced, because it is a natural facet of true Compassion upon awakening, so I am lately just looking at its working as it happens (as it is exercised, or exercises itself) naturally, in the awakened person, while awake.

I'd say, however, that it can be valuable to know about -- to hear about -- Sympathetic Joy in advance of one's awakening, for the reason that it may encourage one to be "not so stingy", and not so "jealous" when we see someone happy, or see them succeed, and thereby one will do less harm to oneself.

I'll say, too, that's it's hard for me to participate actively in "Sympathetic Joy" to share the happiness that, for example, Donald Trump personally feels in his having won the nasty 2016 election in USA. It just points to the fact that I am not now Awake, obviously.

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby fukasetsu on Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:53 am

Joe I never said it could be taught or known or not known, but because of practise/teachings the results speaks for itself. I understand that you speak from many decades of experience and from the viewpoint "after awakening", but saying "caution" might result in anyone from practising what is not in accordance with the methods (or no-method) of Ch'an/Zen, in any case your view as anyone's including every teacher's view ever is still limited. I dont think its fair you say something is not debatable which never was a debate. I wasn't assuming to know or not know anything, if "not knowing" would mean to caution anyone or thing to you, there wouldnt be any dharma, no one claims to know the dharma, all dharmas are considered like dreams, why grasp an appearance? Without grasping there is no error in the dharma, and no caution necessary. There's no need to know anything of the sort.

ps what I said is just my own observation and practise throughout 20 years and what I talked about with the teacher was welcomed with interest as it is my fluid view on the matter/practise. There was no conclusion or message of my view being correct or not. I have no such "faith" or "assumption" about such practises in mind. I'll just show up and see the result perhaps then I got something worth mentioning after practising with a teacher/sangha.

When a teacher appears its nothing but your own mind, when a teacher does not appear its nothing but your own mind. When the fascination with mind evaporates it is perfectly clear and obvious that everything happens by itself. flowers bloom, flowers wither, rain comes, drought comes. I have no mind for practise or caution, I just shared a limited view on the matter depending on this thread. there is no mind or heart of compassion sitting on the couch here, such a mind is a transient fantasy and I see it for what it is.

Thanks Joe.

ps I dont objectify Donald Trump he's a living being with the same nature as me, the only difference is in form and behaviour and I understand how ignorance appears, what it is composed of etc. because I know that by observing my own transient fantasy I feel very much compassion for "him" and for all beings, from my mom to the most evil person on earth ever, that does not mean I rejoice in his behaviour for its clearly due to suffering and resulting in suffering for him and all beings. the more "evil" one is the more "easier" compassion manifests. This is not imagination, I have slip ups too, but that doesnt matter, we perceive how it arises and continue.
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:03 am

fukasetsu wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:Is this something that has to be taught, like a technique, or something that emerges naturally?


Naturally, spontaneously.

In 4 days, septmeber 5th I will follow the Bodhicaryavatara - FPMT Basic Program in Amsterdam and the week after the Mind training - Lojong course follows. Can do no harm to expand my 'knowledge' or training I'd say, for the sake of all beings. :)


That's great Marcel... I know zen teachers who teach Lojong... they say that they feel it's helpful (needed) in zen. I heartily agree.

be well and enjoy
linda
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby fukasetsu on Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:05 am

Linda Anderson wrote:
fukasetsu wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:Is this something that has to be taught, like a technique, or something that emerges naturally?


Naturally, spontaneously.

In 4 days, septmeber 5th I will follow the Bodhicaryavatara - FPMT Basic Program in Amsterdam and the week after the Mind training - Lojong course follows. Can do no harm to expand my 'knowledge' or training I'd say, for the sake of all beings. :)


That's great Marcel... I know zen teachers who teach Lojong... they say that they feel it's helpful in zen. I heartily agree.

be well and enjoy
linda



Thanks Linda :hugs:
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:48 am

Marcel,

fukasetsu wrote:Joe I never said it could be taught or known or not known, but because of practise/teachings the results speaks for itself. I understand that you speak from many decades of experience and from the viewpoint "after awakening", but saying "caution" might result in anyone from practising what is not in accordance with the methods (or no-method) of Ch'an/Zen, in any case your view as anyone's including every teacher's view ever is still limited.

The "CAUTION!" is for anyone who practices those methods, and those who don't. Caution is always appropriate when one does things deliberately. And the caution should be doubled, I think, if one involves others in one's actions, because, then, harm can come to all parties, and not just to oneself.

fuki wrote:I dont think its fair you say something is not debatable which never was a debate.

Good; then no harm done, and we can easily let that go. Some people debate that point, but I can't, because there is no use or sense in it, and those who awaken say afterwards that it was a quagmire ever to even discuss it while ignorant and vexed. I agree. Good, we need not go there.

fuki wrote:When a teacher appears its nothing but your own mind, when a teacher does not appear its nothing but your own mind. When the fascination with mind evaporates it is perfectly clear and obvious that everything happens by itself. flowers bloom, flowers wither, rain comes, drought comes. I have no mind for practise or caution, I just shared a limited view on the matter depending on this thread. there is no mind or heart of compassion sitting on the couch here, such a mind is a transient fantasy and I see it for what it is.

We can discuss what is "your own mind" after your awakening, Marcel. Meanwhile, the point is moot and, really, rather too much hopelessly theoretical, over-confident posturing, and b.s. It's hot air.

Points about Sympathetic Joy is something that I continue to appreciate, and would like to hear from some others who perhaps also pay attention to it either as a deliberate practice, or as a result.

Thanks Marcel.

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby fukasetsu on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:00 am

Joe wrote:We can discuss what is "your own mind" after your awakening, Marcel. Meanwhile, the point is moot and, really, rather too much hopelessly theoretical, over-confident posturing, and b.s. It's hot air.


No harm then Brother.

There is some sort of knowledge here though.
about 6 months ago my mom gave me a tomato plant
for the last 2 months I've been plucking tomatos from the balcony here, when I taste one I know whether or not the fruit is ripe and ready.
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:04 am

Sympathetic Joy is one of "Four Immeasurables" also know as The Bramhavihara.... my zen teachers spoke of them .... not skipped over, happily.

The Four Immeasurables:

loving kindness
compassion
empathetic joy
equanimity

I'm not sure we need to wait for awakening to realize compassion.... step by step in the dark. yet, it is wise to apply good sense to our actions lest we wind up as "do-gooers" who don't have a true connection to what is called for. there is no black and white in awakening....
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:08 am

Linda,

Linda Anderson wrote: I know zen teachers who teach Lojong... they say that they feel it's helpful (needed) in zen.

Zen Buddhism has its own methods, and they've been worked-out over a period of 1500 years.

So I would say that what's "needed in Zen" is dedicated practice of Zen Buddhist methods. Everybody can renew and redouble their practice.

If a student (practitioner) is not already a zealous worker, then the last thing that the slacker needs is yet another practice to try to work with, especially an extraneous one that is not part of the tradition.

Of course, a Zen Buddhist teacher and Zen Buddhist student will harmoniously work privately and individually on whatever they agree to work on, via dokusan meetings face-to-face, without others in the sangha needing to be troubled by it. Truly, one of the beauties of the Zen Buddhist way, in regard to which I say, Hail!

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:10 am

Joe,
The fact remains that more than one Zen teacher I know has taught this..... and I say Yes!

ps.... in public, two lineages
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:16 am

Linda,

Linda Anderson wrote:I'm not sure we need to wait for awakening to realize compassion....

As you know, it's OK "not to be sure". :) And, I take you at your word that you are not sure.

But I make the usual distinction in all I've written above (and elsewhere) between true Compassion which is uncovered at and after awakening ( = "karuna") , and everything else that some people want to call "compassion". They're different.

Interesting that you've been taught about Sympathetic Joy! I feel your happiness about it.

--Joe

p.s. Bill Clinton often said, "I feel your pain"... . :tongueincheek:
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:19 am

Joe.... did you read the second half of my sentence..... which is saying same!!!!

.... step by step in the dark. yet, it is wise to apply good sense to our actions lest we wind up as "do-gooers" who don't have a true connection to what is called for. there is no black and white in awakening....

cluck to Bill Clinton.... he was a monster
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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:22 am

Linda,

Linda Anderson wrote:The fact remains that more than one Zen teacher I know has taught this..... and I say Yes!

Neat! If you keep in touch with them (about this), please post a progress-report from them here about how it's been received, if they are indeed trying to incorporate this in some students' or all students' practice. And how it's going, ...if it's going. Also, are they still a part of the lineage they were transmitted in, or have they been cast off due to infractions of some sorts?

They are probably teachers who have practiced also with Tibetan teachers earlier, is that right?

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Re: The Other (Forgotten?) Side of Compassion

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:24 am

I'm not interested in progress Joe.... and, no, I'm not so sure any of them also practiced Tibetan... but obviously, they read and studied as any good teacher does.... they go beyond what their teacher taught them. YES, they are bona fide zen teachers.... even now.

haha, I probably have more Tibetan experience.... but never hear about Bramhavihara from them. It's lovely that what is called for arises of it's own accord.
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