Why is compassion central to Buddhism?

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Why is compassion central to Buddhism?

Post by nichiren-123 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:33 pm

I often hear and read how compassion is vital to Buddhist practice, alongside wisdom.
My question is why is compassion important and how does it relate to wisdom?

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Re: Why is compassion central to Buddhism?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:22 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:33 pm
I often hear and read how compassion is vital to Buddhist practice, alongside wisdom.
My question is why is compassion important and how does it relate to wisdom?
Love and compassion are the basis for Mahāyāna bodhicitta, the wish to attain perfect buddhahood for the benefit of sentient beings. However, love and compassion are not sufficient for eliminating obscurations, so for this one requires wisdom.

Without compassion, one cannot generate bodhicitta, and without bodhicitta, one cannot attain perfect buddhahood. So one can understand that compassion is the field in which the qualities of awakening grow.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Why is compassion central to Buddhism?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:30 pm


Also worth reading Shantideva's Bodhisattvacharyavatara to understand bodhicitta, how to cultivate it, and its importance.
OM PADMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHAT (Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha)
OM HANU PHASHA BHARA HE YE SVAHA ("Just by Seeing" Mantra)
AH AAH SHA SA MA HA (Six Syllables of Clairvoyance Mantra)

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions.
Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

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Losal Samten
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Re: Why is compassion central to Buddhism?

Post by Losal Samten » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:01 pm

Taranatha and Atisha on the subject:

I need to attain buddhahood. I therefore need to cultivate bodhicitta since it is the cause of buddhahood. The cause of bodhicitta is compassion. The cause of compassion is love. The cause of love is appreciation and gratefulness. The cause of appreciation is recognising all sentient beings have been my parents. I should meditate on developing these qualities in stages.

-Meditate again and again.-

All sentient beings are my parents--they have been so kind to me. Wouldn't it be right if they were to be free from suffering? Wouldn't it be right for them to be comfortable and happy? I will, therefore, attain buddhahood in order to establish them all in happiness. Once I have attained buddhahood, I will also place all sentient beings on the level of buddhahood.

[... in the annals of the graduated teachings called The Necessary Stages of Mind Training in the Mahayana, this quote appears: "You should train your mind by stages in the seven causal links found in Atisha's extraordinary Mahayana teachings".

Atisha's presentation of the seven causal links states that buddhahood is not without causes and conditions. Buddhahood arises from the cause of bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is born from a pure and excellent motivation. A pure motivation arises from great compassion. Great compassion arises from love. Love arises from seeing all sentient beings with affection. Seeing beings with affection arises from appreciation and gratefulness. Appreciation and gratefulness arise from developing the perception of sentient beings as your mothers.]
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Why is compassion central to Buddhism?

Post by jmlee369 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 9:56 am

nichiren-123 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:33 pm
I often hear and read how compassion is vital to Buddhist practice, alongside wisdom.
My question is why is compassion important and how does it relate to wisdom?
From the Avatamsaka Sutra:
“Moreover, Good Man, to constantly accord with living beings is explained like this: Throughout seas of Kshetras in the ten directions exhausting the Dharma Realm and the realm of empty space, there are many different kinds of living beings. That is to say, those born from eggs, womb-born, moisture-born, transformationally born, as well as those who live and rely on earth, water, fire, and air for their existence. There are beings dwelling in space, and those who are born in and live in plants and trees. This includes all the many species and races with their diverse bodies, shapes, appearances, lifespans, families, names, and natures. This includes their many varieties of knowledge and views, their various desires and pleasures, their thoughts and deeds, and their many different deportments, clothing and diets. It includes beings who dwell in different villages, towns, cities and palaces, as well as gods, dragons, others of the eight divisions, humans and non-humans alike.

Also there are footless beings, beings with two feet, four feet, and many feet, with form and without form, with thought and without thought, and not entirely with thought and not entirely without thought. I will accord with and take care of all these many kinds of beings, providing all manner of services and offerings for them. I will treat them with the same respect I show my own parents, teachers, elders, Arhats, and even the Thus Come Ones. I will serve them all equally without difference.

“I will be a good doctor for the sick and suffering. I will lead those who have lost their way to the right road. I will be a bright light for those in the dark night, and cause the poor and destitute to uncover hidden treasures. The Bodhisattva impartially benefits all living beings in this manner.

“Why is this? If a Bodhisattva accords with living beings, then he accords with and makes offerings to all Buddhas. If he can honor and serve living beings, then he honors and serves the Thus Come Ones. If he makes living beings happy, he is making all Thus Come Ones happy. Why is this? Because all Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, take the mind of great compassion as their substance. Because of living beings, they bring forth great compassion. From great compassion, the Bodhi mind is born; and because of the resolve for Bodhi, they accomplish Equal and Proper Enlightenment.

“It is like a great king of trees growing in the rocks and sand of a barren wilderness. When the roots get water, the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits will all flourish. The Bodhi-tree king growing in the wilderness of birth and death is the same. All living beings are its roots; all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are its flowers and fruits. By benefiting all beings with the water of great compassion, one can realize the flowers and fruits of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ wisdom.

“Why is this? If all Bodhisattvas benefit living beings with the water of great compassion, they can attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, Bodhi belongs to living beings. Without living beings, no Bodhisattva could perfect the Unsurpassed Proper Enlightenment

“Good Man, you should understand these principles in this way: When the mind is impartial towards all living beings, one can accomplish full and perfect great compassion. By using the heart of great compassion to accord with living beings, one perfects the making of offerings to the Thus Come Ones. In this way the Bodhisattva constantly accords with living beings.

“Even when the realm of empty space is exhausted, the realms of living beings are exhausted, the karma of living beings is exhausted, and the afflictions of living beings are exhausted, I will still accord endlessly, continuously in thought after thought without cease. My body, mouth, and mind never weary of these deeds.

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