How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
Post Reply
User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6735
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Ayu » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:38 am

I would like to know about the thoughts of you experienced people on this topic.

There's a refugee camp in my neighboorhood and I've got contact to one young mother with her baby. It is very good for her to have my telephone number. So, in case she can call me, if she needs some help with the German language or somebody to take care of the baby for one or two hours.
Lately there was very stressful work for me. I had to negociate with a fitness center which forced her to sign an expensive contract. She signed it by accident, because she didn't understand the conditions and the fitness employee used force by endless talking.
I had to go there several times, trying to explain the facts to some very beautiful and ignorant people. Keeping calm and friendly while being stubborn on the matter was a very good Buddhist training for me.
Another problem was my protégé didn't understand the seriousness of the problem. She thought, if she has no money, she doesn't need to pay.

In my nightmares I saw collection-employees threatening her... Also I felt strong pity for those ignorant fitness-guys and -girls, their ignorance and arrogance. In my nightmares I saw their beautiful bodies shrinking to age and sickness, revealing the uglyness of their minds... They do not know what is important in life, they are on such a wrong and icecold trip...
Unless that problem wasn't solved I couldn't really sleep at night. I felt like the sorror and pain of the whole world took place in my own heart.

This gave me power to solve the problem on one hand. But on the other hand it weakened me, took much power and I thought: Maybe I'm too sensitive to help others? I doubt if compassion makes sense if you wear yourself off with it.

How to find enough equanimity in order to protect oneself? In order to keep enough strength?
Whenever I tried to ask this to a lama or a nun, I get the answer it was good to have this much compassion. Yes, I can believe that. But how to keep serenity?

Maybe you can share some helpful Dharma quotes or personal experiences? Thanks.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

User avatar
Kim O'Hara
Former staff member
Posts: 3501
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:00 am

It can be very difficult, Ayu. People in the 'helping' professions (especially social workers) are well known to suffer from 'burnout' - just giving up completely after trying too hard for too long against impossible circumstances. People like us who do what we can as volunteers, from outside the system, run a smaller risk but it is still there: however much we do, there is so much more which needs to be done! And we can't do it all - no-one could.
I don't think there is any single 'solution' to the problem but here are some things which I know have helped me and others I have worked with. They are not related to each other, really, although the common element seems to be remaining aware of the limits of what is possible.

(1) The Brahmaviharas - and remember that equanimity is as important as the others.
(2) The 'Serenity Prayer' - "give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other."
(3) We know about dukkha (too well!) but the other two marks of existence remind us not to be too attached to our perceptions and actions: none of what we do is really 'ours' and none of what we see is endless. As soon as we lose that perspective, we are on our way to being sucked into the problem. That's not good for us, and it also makes it harder for us to act effectively.
(4) Use our daily life to anchor us to normality. Making breakfast for the kids is important, too :smile: and so is digging in the garden.

On the other side, however, Illegitimi non carborundum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegitim ... arborundum and
never-give-up-frog-colour.jpg
never-give-up-frog-colour.jpg (22.95 KiB) Viewed 1165 times
I hope this helps!

:group:
Kim

Soar
Posts: 164
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 11:13 pm

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Soar » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:03 am

Remember to see this as something for you, the bigger you maybe, but you didnt do all this just for others, you did this so you can learn more how to be a part of our interconnected universe. It challenged you in ways beyond your normal capacities, and it all worked out in the end. So you got help to purify some karma and you grew as a person, now next time in similar situations you can go beyond just getting the job done and know what is involved, what works, what doesn't and can start getting the job done skillfully and smoothly with less stress to all invovled. But when we are called upon to stretch our capacites like this getting the job done roughly is how it seems to go, and that is all that is being asked of us.

Also though, in future similar situations you could also choose not to engage, or share your awareness with a situation from a distance and give someone else the opportunity to do the dirty work and learn something. Still I agree with the monks and nuns, but I think it is important as westerners to understand it from the wisely selfish perspective otherwise we get confused about compassion. Also we dont necessarily need to repeat situations like this, we get sucked into something for some reason and purify that karma or learn something we need to, then we dont have to get sucked in to the same thing again. No need to become mother teresa, once we know we have the willingness and skills to help people in certain ways we can move on to other things that will help us to grow and empower us to help people in other ways. Because ultimately the best help we can give is to become buddhas, so this is no. 1 what is important, so stay with what helps you in that direction.

So I think the bigger picture is the universe and the teachings provide situations like this for us, and we are given our role to play, so we are not going through these things alone. After we recover and integrate our experience and if we are grateful we continue to get more opportunites to grow.

And yes amazing how stressful things can be, I didnt expect it to be like that, thought things would get more and more relaxed and comfortable, which they do but there is also so much life and strong energies that we become aware of also, so it may not feel like we are more relaxed but that is only because we are devleoping our capacity to handle more and more intense situations in a comfortable way. So waking up and relaxing go together and balance each other out.

Looking back its fun times.. after we see it all worked out, before then nightmare! So my guess is this serenity you speak of is really something amazing, it is the defining feature of the really great beings on the planet, but it only comes after many many successes like you have just had.. becasue of course if you know it is all likely to work out in the end and know all the ways that a situation can work out you can be relaxed in the middle of anything..
“If you propose to speak always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
― Siddhārtha Gautama

taichihastings.com

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6735
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Ayu » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:15 am

Very helpful, both answers. Thank you. :sage:
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

muni
Posts: 4289
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by muni » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:37 am

ignorance and arrogance
You say it yourself: ignorance and arrogance that can only be responded by compassion, patience. These young ones as you say, are victim of ignorance, which is the cause of their own suffering. They react on what they see, and defend the rules they have to follow in their job. They use maybe no tact because they never learned to do so and just defend their standpoint. In this is no room for kindness, just defending the rules of their place.

We can try to remain calm and speak with confidence, see them as our children needing an example by calm friendly attitude. Calming the fire, never go with them in the same fire poking way of talking.
We must be strong then, for the welfare of them and the lady, and explain her why not to sign anything anymore without a translator.

If all was always perfect, we get no chance to practice patience and learn to keep peaceful mind. We can think we fail, because we find ourselves as being too emotional, or others maybe can feel to be hot headed ( this is been my experience but since I learned to say sh’t, it is going much better. :D ) We just get opportunity to practice and grow in open heartedness. I remember a Master saying: we must be open to suffer for the welfare of all, by that Bodhichitta grows. But it should not overwhelm us. In compassion ourselves is included.

Many have not contentment because of aversion, caught by or react by aggressive emotions, arrogance, greediness, jealousy, and so on. These make tears roll, since these are the seeds of suffering. Then we can repeat our vow of Bodhisattva and wish to be there for all suffering ones, creating more karma, caught in the suffering circle.

Thanks anyway for your teaching.
Buddha said all is empty like my brain.
Let’s make a selfie!

newbie
Posts: 185
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:11 am

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by newbie » Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:31 am

You did wonderful Ayu!
:twothumbsup:

boda
Posts: 1626
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:40 pm

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by boda » Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:35 pm

Wisdom.

SeeLion
Posts: 195
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 8:09 am

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by SeeLion » Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:51 pm

Serenity can happen by anchoring yourself in the present moment.

So, there is compassion, and there are acts of compassion, and the suffering arises from attachment to the desired/projected results of your compassionate acts.

The present moment has an interesting feature of permanently letting go of the past and the future. So you need to let go of your compassion while you need to sleep at night.
Keeping calm and friendly while being stubborn on the matter was a very good Buddhist training for me.
Unless that problem wasn't solved I couldn't really sleep at night.
Maybe you could observe where your calm arises and where it ceases and leaves room for agitation.

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6735
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Ayu » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:06 pm

Found this: http://info-buddhism.com/Empathy-Compas ... ruism.html
I store it here in order to read it later.
Maybe it fits to the problem.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

User avatar
Kaccāni
Posts: 1083
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Kaccāni » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:35 pm

Ayu wrote: This gave me power to solve the problem on one hand. But on the other hand it weakened me, took much power and I thought: Maybe I'm too sensitive to help others? I doubt if compassion makes sense if you wear yourself off with it.

How to find enough equanimity in order to protect oneself? In order to keep enough strength?
Stay in the center. Stay in the love. From the love, approach the compassion. But always value staying in the present higher. If you cannot help yourself, you cannot help others that well. The equanimity you are looking for is right here in the present moment. The same equanimity that is not distrubed by the emotions.

If compassion is not really habitual, alternate between "make a decision out of compassion" and "execute in the here and now, all centered". If any fear about the future outcome comes (which is the only reason for bad sleep in this case), turn your attention back to the present moment. What is it that can be done now? Then the answer is probably: sleep. Everything else only becomes relevant after having slept. An alternative may be following the Zen question with your attention: "What is lacking in this current moment?"

Best
Kc
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

User avatar
Kim O'Hara
Former staff member
Posts: 3501
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: How to find the balance between compassion & serenity?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:06 pm

Ayu wrote:Found this: http://info-buddhism.com/Empathy-Compas ... ruism.html
I store it here in order to read it later.
Maybe it fits to the problem.
It does fit the problem, as you say, and it all seems very sensible to me, but it's fairly technical.
... a study has shown that 60% of the medical profession suffers or has suffered from burnout, and that a third has been affected to the point of having to suspend their activities temporarily.
Over the course of discussions ... we noted that compassion and altruistic love were associated with positive emotions. So we arrived at the idea that burnout was in fact a kind of “empathy fatigue” and not “compassion fatigue.”
... while I observed that meditation on empathy came up against a limit, that of burnout, on the contrary it seemed to me that one could not tire of love or compassion. In fact, these states of mind both fed my courage instead of undermining it, and reinforced my determination to help others without increasing my distress. I continued to be confronted with suffering, but love and compassion conferred a constructive quality to my way of approaching others’ sufferings, and amplified my inclination and determination to come to their aid.
So it was clear, from my perspective, that if there was an “empathy fatigue” leading to the syndrome of emotional exhaustion, there was no fatigue of love and compassion.
:namaste:
Kim

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests