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5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

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5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Carol on Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:15 am

From the Buddhist Peace Fellowship blog ... here's an article with several good points. Excerpts:

5 Big Problems With Compassion-Baiting

Unfortunately, we spiritual-progressive types, including but not limited to dharma heads, seem to be particularly prone to something I call compassion-baiting.

General compassion-baiting sounds something like:
Try having more compassion. If you did, you’d see things my way.



And in social justice situations, specifically, compassion-baiting often sounds like:

You’re more upset / loud / angry about social harm than I, arbiter, deem appropriate. You must therefore be lacking in wisdom or compassion.

F**k that noise, for real.

Why so touchy, you ask? Let’s break it down: 5 major fails associated with compassion-baiting.

1. Compassion-Baiting Enables Sexual Misconduct
[...]
2. It Puts a Rush Job On Forgiveness
[...]
3. It Obscures Power Dynamics
[...]
4. It Prioritizes Politeness Over Justice
[...]
5. It Disconnects Us From The Pain of Others
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Kojip on Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:21 am

That is an interesting blog post. A self-conscious sense of superior virtue is always a feature with social activism. It seems like a necessary part of sustaining an organization or fight. It is going to show up in one form or another. No one is "clean".

Regarding forgiveness. I don't think it can be faked. It really is a process. Outrage , anger, has to be processed in body time, not head time.

Is there really an expectation of equanimity in the midst of sexual abuse?

richard
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Seeker242 on Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:20 pm

Sounds more like something people do to themselves, rather than having it done to them by others.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Carol on Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:45 pm

Kojip wrote: Is there really an expectation of equanimity in the midst of sexual abuse?

richard


Yes. According to many of those involved in the sexual abuse problems with Eido and Sasaki.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby partofit22 on Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:10 am

I think when we engage in compassion-baiting, we re-harden our hearts. Maybe it’s because we fear being touched by the raw pain of others, so we ask them to temper it for us.


I think this nails it-
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby TigerDuck on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:21 am

Surely compassion alone can cause a lot of problem.

That's why Buddhism stress the importance of bodhicitta, not compassion.

Bodhicitta is compassion + wisdom (of emptiness)
The practitioner of bodhicitta, has a broad picture of the whole situation.

The practitioner of compassion alone, sounds good in the beginning, but because no wisdom, that person will end up with more negative action.

Whether he (the practitioner of compassion alone) will get crazy or end up in hell, it is just a matter of time.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Linda Anderson on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:33 am

Compassion alone is still compassion... pure compassion, untainted, no problem. This kind of compassion has no bait, no agenda, no ego. The so-called baiting is purely an egoic, attached function.

It is also true that compassion and wisdom need each other like the two wings of a bird. imo, this has nothing to do with the manipulation described in the article. Compassion does not need to be rescued by wisdom... in the end, they can't be defined as separate.... the bird analogy is no longer needed.
Last edited by Linda Anderson on Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:50 am

Of course, the suggestion in the example in the excerpt of what this "baiting" sounds like reveals the problem.

It's not compassion that is being talked about. It's some kind of deliberate kindness that one --or others -- can put on, and which one puts on for reasons. That is surely not compassion, and I think its exercise causes all sorts of troubles, and has caused all sorts of troubles through history.

Now, in the formal practice of some Buddhist traditions, a practice of kindness can be taken on and worked with. That's not our way in the various Zen Buddhist lines, though. Some practitioners might pick it up, in consultation with a teacher, at various times, perhaps, but this would seem some sort of hybrid practice.

The example, and maybe the entire article, to me show a misuse of the word "compassion", and although I don't like to suppose that the author also misunderstands what compassion is, maybe that's true too.

Compassion is not as Webster defines it.

Perhaps we are better to use the word "Karuna" to signify the true compassion that arises spontaneously and simultaneously with Prajna, or Wisdom. If this change is made in the wording, and the author of the article still uses the word "compassion", then all's well, and it's clear that deliberate kindness is what is being discussed, and not compassion, in which case it's obvious why there are all sorts of problems arising when people compare and contrast their exercise of said kindness amongst themselves.

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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Linda Anderson on Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:16 am

oh dear, now that I have studied the entire article... the article itself is throwing out more bait. IMO, This is not worthy of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Huifeng on Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:33 am

I think that this sort of thing happens to one rather new to the Dharma, in terms of depth, rather than mere time. Hearing it said so often that Buddhism is into "compassion", coupled with a misplaced sense, really a misunderstanding, of not self, one can easily pick up the words and ideas, but not have much (or any) depth of actualizing them. So, when situations occur, the words come out, but genuine care for the other(s) may still be lacking. Whatever the case, perhaps we need some compassion for such people, too. Such an approach and attitude doesn't help the other--as we've clearly seen, but it doesn't help them, either.

~~Huifeng
Bhikṣu & Mahāyāna bodhisattva ordination by Ven Master Hsing Yun (星雲大師) et al, Foguang Shan Monastery (佛光山寺) Taiwan.
Teaching: http://buddhist.fgu.edu.tw/main.php Blog: http://prajnacara.blogspot.com/
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Carol on Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:18 am

partofit22 wrote:
I think when we engage in compassion-baiting, we re-harden our hearts. Maybe it’s because we fear being touched by the raw pain of others, so we ask them to temper it for us.


I think this nails it-


I do, too. I think the article is discussing the misunderstanding of compassion that may be quite widespread in some Buddhist circles. Would probably have benefitted from putting " " marks around the word "compassion" to make that clearer, although it was clear to me from the context.

I found the article helpful to me, personally, as I struggle sometimes with what Trungpa used to call "idiot compassion" -- both in myself and in others I sometimes encounter.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Riverstone on Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:24 am

Using linear mind to understand compassion. It is like creating a model of compassion and turning it over to examine it. But it is not compassion, it is an idea of compassion. In direct experience distinctions fall away and the kindness one has shown to ones own delusional state extends naturally to the deluded. If we had not taken the time to witness our own suffering and to intervene, we would be cold and compassion less.
There is no fear in being a novice, an expert on the other hand has something to lose.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby TigerDuck on Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:58 am

The practice of compassion alone can actually strengthen the delusion of self to a very extreme level.

Without any sense of reality, helping 1000 beings, is equivalent to strengthen further your delusory self, and delusory beings, 1000 times stronger.

While those who is equipped with sense of reality (empty appearances), helping 1000 beings, is equivalent to diminishing the delusory self, and the delusory of beings to be saved, 1000 times.

THe practice of compassion is to eliminate the delusory of self in you, and also whoever you help. Because that is the ultimate help, which actually kick the ball.

The more we help beings, day by day, the reality of no one beings helped, must be revealed clearer and clearer.

If it doesn't happen in that way, compassion has becomed the main source of samsara.

It is a problem actually particularly in Mahayana, where what is simply provisionally good is expressed to the extreme level, making practitioner blind and fail to realize that reality in all its forms is neither good nor bad.

I have read somewhere for example in Taiwan, that there is no buddhas form in sexual union (for example). This clearly shows those Mahayanist fail to see neither good nor bad in sexual union.

Why it happen in that way? Because what simply provisionally good (like compassion) is stressed out so strongly, as if there is really bad thing in ultimate sense.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby partofit22 on Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:22 pm

Carol wrote:I found the article helpful to me, personally, as I struggle sometimes with what Trungpa used to call "idiot compassion" -- both in myself and in others I sometimes encounter.


Me too-

From the No Teacher of Zen article:

"But even this depth of faith, though essential
and basic, is not sufficient. Ideally, a Zen teacher
is also willing and able to share life completely
with others. This takes a wide and deep acceptance
of and interest in the many wily and wild
manifestations of the human heart that arise in
the course of practice over time. Practice with
people for a while and you will bear witness to
births, deaths, marriages, divorces, love affairs,
enlightenment experiences, endless tears, tragic
illnesses, angry feuds, breaches, collapses, and
surprises of all sorts. A Zen teacher will eventually
live through with others almost everything
human beings perpetrate, so he or she needs
long patience, deep forbearance and forgiveness,
and a healthy sense of the immense tragedy and
beauty of human life. The more the teacher has
an idea of “Zen” that students must conform to,
the more everyone (teacher included) will suffer,
if not at first, then later on as people who
were initially inspired by that idea come to feel
oppressed or even betrayed by it. No doubt there
are many important skills people would like their
Zen teachers to have, but deep faith and a willingness
to share your life honestly are the core of
what I have come to feel is most important after
having been in this business a long time. But I
have also seen Zen teachers who seem seriously
lacking in these capacities still be of benefit to
others. There seem to be no universal prescriptions
in Zen or in life."

http://everydayzen.org/files/1013/9313/9373/BD_Sp_14_48-53_Fischer.pdf#page=6&zoom=auto,0,630

In a nutshell:

"share life completely with others."

Any "article" can be lacking and yet benefit-
Last edited by partofit22 on Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:25 pm

Folks should always check their own motives, many spiritual seekers are in it for themselves, a.k.a the me-project. They imagine teachers and gurus and enlightened ones to be on some higher plane then themselves and think if they imitate what they do, what they say, and how to behave that they too will one day reach that level of "spirituality/awakening etc" These are spiritual traps, the most dagerous one is when a seeker/practisioner starts to believe/think that they have to behave a certain way, i.e. loveable, compassionate, non-judgmental, forgiving etc, naturally the ones who are in it for their own self-image (I want to become more wise,loveable,enlightened, happy etc"} are also more likely to be manipulated by teachers or other seekers. When one plays the spiritual game there are bound to be victims.
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:43 pm

TigerDuck wrote:The practice of compassion alone can actually strengthen the delusion of self to a very extreme level.


Sure, compassion alike wisdom is a dharma, hence void of own-being.
There is no such thing as personal compassion or personal enlightenment for that matter.
Compassion arises dependent on conditions (dharma) there is nothing fix called "compassion" nor can anyone be it or possess it.


Sri Niz pointed to something similair.
Until you are free of the drug [of self-identification] , all your religions ans sciences, prayers and yogas are of no use to you, for, based on a mistake, they strengthen it
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Linda Anderson on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:16 pm

Not last night,
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Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Carol on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:33 pm

I'm actually surprised that more people here don't recognize themselves somewhere in this article. I certainly do! Sometimes I do struggle with a certain moral smugness around compassion ... It's sneaky, but it's there, and it is a way that I separate myself from the suffering of others and try to stand apart or above it ... using a misplaced sense of my own "depth" and "realization" through the suffering I have endured. This is an ongoing gate for me.

Yesterday morning I was listening to Democracy Now on the radio as I drove my daughter to an appointment in the City. There were interviews with two men who are moving examples of true compassion ... one a man who had forgiven his son's murderer and was attempting to testify against the death penalty at his trial (but the judge is not allowing him to do so) and the other a man who had just been released after 44 years (for a murder manufactured by the old co-intelpro campaign against the Black Panthers in the '70s) who appeared to have little or no bitterness. He had worked in prison with the American Friends Service (Quakers) to help young men learn to turn away from violence, and was planning to continue that work outside of prison with young people in the community.

Both those men moved me deeply, and I found myself thinking how easy it is to talk about compassion when little is at stake, and how rare and beautiful it truly is when it arises from the depths of loss and blossoms into love.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Kojip on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:51 pm

Maybe one issue here is a pretension to no-self in Buddhist circles. People who practice zazen will know the taste of no abiding self first hand. It is no great feat. Yet who is completely free of self-view and self centeredness? Dwelling in a no-self view is not helpful for people who are frontline workers. As much honesty as possible is. Acknowledging a pretension to being free of self-delusion is a good place to start. It is grounding, and good practice. Richard /\
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Re: 5 Big Problems With Compassion Baiting

Postby Chrisd on Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:52 pm

I think the people that abuse would rather shroud themselves in mistery rather than openly claiming a thing as being free of self-delusion. Once they claim something, they can be held accountable to what they claim. From what I understand, no sexual abuse could come from one who is free of self-delusion, or any genuine practitioner of Buddhism for that matter. So anyone who attempts such a thing is simply ignorant and can instantly be recognized as such by his or her students.
Jeff Shore wrote:True humility comes from being without self. Not pride, not arrogance. How could pride or arrogance arise? How could desire for power or for recognition arise, let alone abusing others to fulfill one’s carnal lust? That is what a sick, dis-eased person does. True humility is the blossom of constant practice – a practice that continues on.

Maybe if they would all be open and straightforward with their pretensions on no-self, we could more easily sort out the nonsense.
Huifeng wrote:I think that this sort of thing happens to one rather new to the Dharma, in terms of depth, rather than mere time. coupled with a misplaced sense, really a misunderstanding, of not self, one can easily pick up the words and ideas, but not have much (or any) depth of actualizing them.
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