How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

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DharmaNoob
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How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by DharmaNoob » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:32 am

Something I've struggled with on an ongoing basis in my life is what you might call an acceptance-alienation cycle regarding the many people in need in the world.

The way it works is something like this:

1) I accept and want to help others
2) I get exhausted, want more time and energy for myself, get frustrated with people not choosing to help themselves etc -- essentially, I get fed up with it
3) I grow to resent others for the drain on my resources

Eventually resenting others grows troublesome, as well -- it does even less to make me feel happy or fulfilled than acceptance, although it does leave me with more energy for other pursuits.

Essentially, I struggle with maintaining compassion and a lack of expectation from others. I believe this is...undesirable.

smcj
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by smcj » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:07 am

Not from a buddhist source, but still words of wisdom:

If you see a hungry man and you give him a fish, he will be hungry later that same day.
If you see a hungry man and you teach him to fish, he will never be hungry again.

The best thing you can do to help someone is show them how to help themselves.

If the shoe is on the other foot, and we are asking for help, we should do everything we can for ourselves, and make the request as simple and easy as we possibly can to the person we want to help us. This goes for the practice of Dharma too. Believe me, your teachers will appreciate the fact you make it easy for them.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

Bakmoon
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Bakmoon » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:22 am

Taking care of yourself isn't against compassion. Burning yourself out doesn't help anyone, so think of taking care of yourself as making a long term investment in yourself so you can keep going.

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Jesse » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:24 am

It just means we aren't perfect. I sometimes struggle with this type of thing myself.

Some people really can't help themselves, that's just reality. Lots of people will never overcome their homelessness, drug addictions or mental problems. We should still treat these people with compassion because they are sick, and they are suffering much more than us.

The world already looks down on these people enough.

I believe as buddhist's we should strive to overcome our tendency to judge people for the situation they are in, because we could just as easily of been in the same situation because of our karma. We are extraordinarily lucky (those of us who have money, shelter, food, internet). The rest of the world doesn't have it so good.

Just thing's I try to remember when I get frustrated/irritated.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

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dharmagoat
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by dharmagoat » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:26 am

I think it comes down to each of us learning for ourselves how much of what kinds of generosity we can maintain, and giving no more (and no less) than this.

The more we accustom ourselves to acting generously, the more we are able to give, and the more ways we find ourselves able to give.

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:10 am

DharmaNoob wrote:Something I've struggled with on an ongoing basis in my life is what you might call an acceptance-alienation cycle regarding the many people in need in the world.

The way it works is something like this:

1) I accept and want to help others
2) I get exhausted, want more time and energy for myself, get frustrated with people not choosing to help themselves etc -- essentially, I get fed up with it
3) I grow to resent others for the drain on my resources

Eventually resenting others grows troublesome, as well -- it does even less to make me feel happy or fulfilled than acceptance, although it does leave me with more energy for other pursuits.

Essentially, I struggle with maintaining compassion and a lack of expectation from others. I believe this is...undesirable.

Possibly i'm totally off base, but here's my two cents:

Some people are outside our current ability to help. Spending time feeling guilty about those people is a waste of time, karmically some are just outside our scope of influence - it doesn't matter whether you think it's their fault or yours. I think the best thing with those people is to make aspirations to one day be able to help them, cultivate loving kindness, bodhicitta, or whatever our tradition teaches...and understand that our own feelings of exhaustion and alienation are actually the key to our connection to other beings, and the key to developing genuine altruism, rather than what is blocking it.

Your own pain and sense of alienation is immediately accessible and is IME the key to developing real loving-kindness, altruism, etc. which in turn is what creates the conditions conducive to offering help to others, I think. Realize your state of mind is actually what will create the conditions for helping others...from a Buddhist perspective it cannot work the other way around, you will not find the opportunity to effectively help others without cultivating the things that lead to those opportunities. Judging them as not being able to help themselves, judging yourself as not being helpful enough...all this is basically a BS distraction, if you want to connect with people on that level you have to cultivate a different way of seeing things.

There are more specifics within the Tibetan traditions..but I have found the above to be reliable general advice.

I also recommend an accessible book on Lojong : The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche is a good one IMO.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

smcj
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by smcj » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:32 am

12 step programs have a lot of experience with this type of thing. Specifically Al-Anon, which is for the families and friends of substance abusers, has much accumulated wisdom in this area. Specifically the concept of "enabling", of protecting other adults from the consequences of their own folly which means they will never feel the pain they need to feel in order to learn their lesson.

(I hope the following is ok with the ToS.)

If someone is actively investing themselves in an insane activity that is crippling them emotionally, the best that they can do is: a)admit their lives have become unmanageable b)find a source of sanity outside themselves, and c)resolve to refrain from that activity. In Dharma I liken this to: a)understanding the 1st Noble Truth and gaining renunciation b)"Taking Refuge" in the 3 Jewels, and c)taking the Pratimoksha Vows for self-liberation. The cycle of addiction can be used as an analogy for the cycle of samsara, and addicts have no problem with understanding that their own "defilements" are the actual cause of all their suffering. Other people have a very difficult time seeing or believing that. All an addict has to do is extrapolate out from his own experience and see that everybody is going through what he went through over the cycle of multiple incarnations. It is a great misfortune to have gone through the suffering that allows one to see that, but there is a silver lining if you can bypass all the problems people have with the struggling with the basic beliefs of BuddhaDharma.

But Dharma isn't really set up for that kind of help as of yet, although maybe in the future it will be.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by muni » Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:30 am

When we help others, we are also helping ourselves.
We need to find peace in ourselves in order to experience happiness/love/compassion from which then the wish to help others arises. But if we cannot help, we should at least not harm.
Also we should not suffer due to not being able to help, which can happen when we have expectations. Even compassion is not always a joy, to be willing to take the suffering of others or accepting to suffer for the sake of others can be part of it. But always try to keep or find our peace back.

Two coins...
Which human beings are “fortunate and connected?” They are the ones who generate love, compassion, and devotion, as well as the commitment to remain steadfast on the path until all beings are liberated. Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches.

Not to identify oneself with something, or to associate things with the 'me,' and to see that the idea that there is a 'me,' which is distinct from things, is a delusion. H H Dalai Lama.

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Zhen Li » Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:49 pm

The Questions of Ugra Sutra says with regards to practicing generosity that one should give whenever asked, but if one doesn't feel like one is ready to do that, one can say something like, "I would give, but my conditions are not yet fully developed to do so at this moment as I am still feeble in my advancement on the Bodhisattva path. I give you warm wishes."

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Challenge23
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Challenge23 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:35 pm

DharmaNoob wrote:Something I've struggled with on an ongoing basis in my life is what you might call an acceptance-alienation cycle regarding the many people in need in the world.

The way it works is something like this:

1) I accept and want to help others
2) I get exhausted, want more time and energy for myself, get frustrated with people not choosing to help themselves etc -- essentially, I get fed up with it
3) I grow to resent others for the drain on my resources

Eventually resenting others grows troublesome, as well -- it does even less to make me feel happy or fulfilled than acceptance, although it does leave me with more energy for other pursuits.

Essentially, I struggle with maintaining compassion and a lack of expectation from others. I believe this is...undesirable.
Very good question.

The way I deal with this goes something like this.

1. I evaluate my resources. This is not only "stuff" but also things like time, attention, energy and so forth.
2. Once I evaluate my resources I try to do a realistic assessment of how much of those resources I should dedicate to self-care. Again, don't forget to do this math for non-material things. And don't be a martyr. If not having your hour a night watching TV makes you absolutely miserable, make sure to factor that in.
3. I then make sure that when I offer things to people it doesn't cut into the self-care resources.
4. I set it as a constant process to question and reduce my self-care resources over time.
IN THIS BOOK IT IS SPOKEN OF THE SEPHIROTH & THE PATHS, OF SPIRITS & CONJURATIONS, OF GODS, SPHERES, PLANES & MANY OTHER THINGS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST. IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THEY EXIST OR NOT. BY DOING CERTAIN THINGS CERTAIN RESULTS FOLLOW; STUDENTS ARE MOST EARNESTLY WARNED AGAINST ATTRIBUTING OBJECTIVE REALITY OR PHILOSOPHICAL VALIDITY TO ANY OF THEM.

Wagner, Eric; Wilson, Robert Anton (2004-12-01). An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (Kindle Locations 1626-1629). New Falcon Publications. Kindle Edition., quoting from Alister Crowley

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tomschwarz
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by tomschwarz » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:05 am

))) i would like to introduce something called skillful means. the fact remains that people need to learn their own lessons. that is also the belief in psychoanalysis and most of greater western psychotherapy. also, you must inspect your own intentions. are you willing to embrace the other persons happiness on their own terms? their trip? using your wisdom but delivering and timing/not delivering ))))) it, that is skillful means.

for example, all the 5 world religions are equally valuable (maybe )))) ) if you follow them to their conclusion. there are also people who do very well with secular ethics alone/atheism. buddhism is not for everyone )))). but for holiness the dalai lama and many others, clearly, buddhism was the right "choice" ))))).

so -- the drunk guy on the street, what can i do to help him? a lot! ))))))) but not simply join his desire-oriented-wish-fullfillment-oriented-self-centered-perspective adn give him "stuff", clearly not. you have to first be empty in your mind, then feel his mind, then feel where his mind needs for his happiness, then you can actually do some real good, add your seed for future maturation~! yesterday, i saw such a small group of drinkers in klagenfurt austria. one of their beers was in the fountain to be cooled. i lifted as though it was garbage, the man kindly said (in german), "that is my beer i was cooling it". i said, "this is not a refridgerator, this is our fountain". his friends smiled at that comment, but he did not. and his short rant ended with foreigners should leave. i was very accepting of his perspective, and said, "of course, you (plural/formal) know your city better than i do". so by making my complaint about his lack of discipline, but also giving in and suggesting that he could go forward as the city planner -- giving him that responsibility in his own mind, that might help.

his holiness the dali lama spoke here in klagenfurt in 2013. i was not here, but i saw the video ))))), you can find it on youtube.com. at the end, and keep in mind that his holiness the dalai lama is a true master of buddhism and particularly skillful means, at the end ))))), he said to the audience that if this was useful for you good, something like, take it and prosper, but if not then "frak it". )))))))) you see, he was taking the energy of the devout conservative catholic population here, that energy that would rather see the pope talking to them about secular ethics and happiness rather than a buddhist monk, and giving in to that energy with special low-level-language. so those who were "pulling" on that "rope" will fall back on their butts, and be left with the idea that they said "frak it" to a message of peace. all humans have buddha nature (or god within to use christian nomenclature) and so all will judge ourselves on this highest ethical plane. so that seed will mature in all of us that heard his voice.

so long answer, but short answer is that if you feel tired from compassion, take a look at the mechanics of what your are doing and see if it is truly selfless or more a self-realization (later will create conflicting emotions).

here is the late chogyam trungpa's take on this:
COMPASSION IS NOT LOGICAL
Compassion is not logical. It’s basically spacious and generous. A compassionate person might not be sure whether he is being compassionate to you or whether you are being compassionate to him, because compassion creates a total environment of generosity. Generosity is implied; it just happens, rather than you making it happen. It’s just there, without direction, without me, without “for them.” It’s full of joy, a spontaneously existing grin of joy, constant joy.
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Losal Samten » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:50 pm

Nine Considerations and Criteria for Benefiting Beings by Patrul Rinpoche.

http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... iderations
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by smcj » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:14 pm

Mother's Lap wrote:Nine Considerations and Criteria for Benefiting Beings by Patrul Rinpoche.

http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... iderations
Ah yes, but they are are based on the proviso, "…if it would benefit…" My own experience, and the experience of many others in the modern world, is that often times trying to help actually ends up hurting. A quote I heard from a random guest on Charlie Rose said, "The worst damage is done by well-intentioned people that don't understand what they are doing." It doesn't come from enlightened awareness, and therefore isn't Dharma, but it sure hit home for me.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Sherlock » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:17 pm

All actions are like a poisoned fruit until you are enlightened and go beyond karma.

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Losal Samten
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Losal Samten » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:22 pm

smcj wrote:
Mother's Lap wrote:Nine Considerations and Criteria for Benefiting Beings by Patrul Rinpoche.

http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... iderations
Ah yes, but they are are based on the proviso, "…if it would benefit…" My own experience, and the experience of many others in the modern world, is that often times trying to help actually ends up hurting. A quote I heard from a random guest on Charlie Rose said, "The worst damage is done by well-intentioned people that don't understand what they are doing." It doesn't come from enlightened awareness, and therefore isn't Dharma, but it sure hit home for me.
More on this by Patrul.

— It is useless for a beginner with neither experience nor realization to try to help others with the Dharma. No blessings can be obtained from him, just as nothing can be poured out of an empty vessel. His instructions would be insipid and without substance, like beer brewed without pressing the grains... This decadent age is therefore not a time for ordinary beings to help others externally, but rather a time for them to live in solitary places and train their own minds in the love and compassion of bodhicitta. It is a time to keep away from negative emotions. While a precious medicinal tree is still just a shoot, it is not yet time to pick it, it is the time to protect it.

— For these reasons, it is quite difficult to really make the gift of Dharma to others. To expound a teaching to others without having experienced it oneself will not help them at all. As for acquiring offerings and wealth by teaching Dharma, that is what Padampa Sangye called : "Using the Dharma as merchandise to get rich."

— Until you have overcome wanting anything for yourself, it would be better not to rush into altruistic activities. When your own selfish desires have been exhausted, the time will have to come to devote yourself entirely to others, without concern for your own peace and happiness and without relaxing your efforts for an instant.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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dharmagoat
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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by dharmagoat » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:51 pm

Mother's Lap wrote:More on this by Patrul.

— It is useless for a beginner with neither experience nor realization to try to help others with the Dharma. No blessings can be obtained from him, just as nothing can be poured out of an empty vessel. His instructions would be insipid and without substance, like beer brewed without pressing the grains... This decadent age is therefore not a time for ordinary beings to help others externally, but rather a time for them to live in solitary places and train their own minds in the love and compassion of bodhicitta. It is a time to keep away from negative emotions. While a precious medicinal tree is still just a shoot, it is not yet time to pick it, it is the time to protect it.

— For these reasons, it is quite difficult to really make the gift of Dharma to others. To expound a teaching to others without having experienced it oneself will not help them at all. As for acquiring offerings and wealth by teaching Dharma, that is what Padampa Sangye called : "Using the Dharma as merchandise to get rich."

— Until you have overcome wanting anything for yourself, it would be better not to rush into altruistic activities. When your own selfish desires have been exhausted, the time will have to come to devote yourself entirely to others, without concern for your own peace and happiness and without relaxing your efforts for an instant.
:good:

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by smcj » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:13 am

More on this by Patrul.

— It is useless for a beginner with neither experience nor realization to try to help others with the Dharma. No blessings can be obtained from him, just as nothing can be poured out of an empty vessel. His instructions would be insipid and without substance, like beer brewed without pressing the grains...
Ah yes, but I wasn't talking about helping others with Dharma. I was talking about trying to help others with ordinary things, with friendship, etc. Not always, but on occasion I have been known to create a mess when doing nothing would have been a better course of action.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:17 am

Not sure I understand the relation of those quotes to the OP's situation, Mother's Lap, though the overall advice of Patrul Rinpoches writing itself is gold of course.

I do not believe the OP's question is about making a gift of Dharma at all, but simply providing material or emotional support, and the bad cycles he experiences with that.

This bit hit me the most:

1. Consideration of the benefit to both oneself and others

Anything that would be of direct or indirect help and benefit to both yourself and others should be done.

Anything that would not benefit but harm both you and others, directly or indirectly, should not be done.

Anything that would benefit you but cause harm to other beings should not be done.

If something would harm you but help others, then act in accordance with your situation. If you are a beginner, the main thing is to protect yourself from harm. Like the shoot of a medicinal plant, protecting yourself from harm will be the source of benefit to others. If you are a bodhisattva at the stage of "devoted conduct"[1], weigh up the priorities. From the point of obtaining the bodhisattva levels[2] onwards, the main thing is to act solely for others' benefit.

You should also examine the amount of help or harm that would be caused. If, directly or indirectly, it would be of considerable help to others and little harm to yourself, you should act to benefit them. If it would be of little help to others but would seriously harm you, do not act. If the amount of help and harm would be equal, act in accordance with your situation. If you are a beginner, mainly protect yourself from harm. From the stage of "devoted conduct" onwards, mainly act to help others.
I assume most of us count as "beginners", and so would proceed that way according to the above advice.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:12 am

Sherlock wrote:All actions are like a poisoned fruit until you are enlightened and go beyond karma.
Until you have overcome wanting anything for yourself, it would be better not to rush into altruistic activities. When your own selfish desires have been exhausted, the time will have to come to devote yourself entirely to others, without concern for your own peace and happiness and without relaxing your efforts for an instant.
Sorry to do some thread necromancy, but this is relevant for me lately.

Can it be called compassion if we wait until we have somehow become enlightened to wait to even imperfectly help other beings?
And if few beings can be said to be enlightened, does that mean in Buddhism, only 0.0000001% of its practitioners can bring an aspiration for compassion to fruition?

Obviously my questions are a bit rhetorical, but there is this conflict I encounter in Buddhist circles.
I see words of compassion and how all beings are our suffering mothers... then an enumeration of the reasons we can't and even shouldn't engage, such as:
* we aren't enlightened so we can't meaningfully help
* samsara is suffering so any temporary help such as providing food or financial relief is pointless
* also, samsara is rooted in ignorance so our help should be exclusively limited to spreading Dharma
* we not being realized teachers ourselves should not spread the Dharma
* since our intentions are not 100% selfless then any resultant act is flawed and better never undertaken, as in the second quote above.

It is said the perfect is the enemy of the good.
How is this not the case with imperfect compassionate activity?
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: How do I reconcile compassion and immense need?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:23 am

Well, just above I posted some bits from Patrul Rinpoche on helping beings.

If what other Buddhists are saying is bugging you, stop listening to them. Compassionate action has always beena part of the path, and you can find that in Sutra, Shasta, whatever..

There is just a big word of caution about WHY you do those things.

Speaking of which, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has a class ongoing right now which is free, basically on this very subject. So instead of worrying so much about what others are doing or saying,, maybe check it, or another resource out.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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