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Practice of Compassion

Practice of Compassion

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Published by Min Bahadur Shakya
it contains the types of compassion and way to practice it.
it contains the types of compassion and way to practice it.

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Published by: Min Bahadur Shakya on Mar 01, 2012
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04/17/2013

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PRACTICE OF GREAT COMPASSION
 byMin Bahadur ShakyaDirector  Nagarjuna Inc.
The importance of compassion is emphasized nowhere in any literature of religion than in:Buddhism, or more specifically Mahayana in particular. The Altruistic concept of relieving sufferings of all sentient beings of this ten thousand World systems has beenthe common theme of the Bodhisattva path.In the past mother India produced a galaxy of great Bodhisattvas like Acharya Nagarjuna,Asanga, Vasubandhu, Bodhibhadra, Acharya Shanti Deva and so forth and filledIndian Society with the attitude like loving kindness, compassion, tolerance, non-violence at top priority.People look Indian sub-continent for source and inspiration for these spiritual values. The word ‘Karuna’ can be rendered in English as ‘love’ ‘pity’ ‘mercy’ ‘compassion’. Noone word can suffice to convey the meaning of Karuna. As such all the words together give the approximate meaning or nearest meaning. Now let us give some meanings of this word ‘Karunaas expressed in various passages of traditional root texts andcommentaries of Mahayana Buddhist literature.According to Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita, a bodhisattva shows his Karuna chiefly byresolving to suffer the torments and agonies of the hell realms during innumerablekalpas, if need be, so that he may lead all beings to Perfect Enlightenment.
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To the same theme First Panchen Lama has declared
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:Even if we must remain for as ocean of aeons in the fieryHells of Avici even for the sake of one sentient beingsWe take our blessings to complete the perfection of joyous effortTo strive with compassion for Supreme Enlightenment and not bediscouraged.Similarly long long ago Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha made a solemn vow as follows:“I now determine to relive the suffering of beings in the six realms of suffering and sorrow,skillfully leading them to Salvation through kalpas, before I myself attain Buddhahood.”
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Thus for relieving the suffering of beiongs in the Hell realms this Boddhisattva preferred tostay in Hell than to stay in some paradises. He is cansumed with grief on account of suffering of others and those not care for his own happiness.
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See Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita edited by P. Ghosh (Calcutta 1902-13 in Bibliotheca Indica (1461.8 ff)
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See ‘Guru Puja’ by First Panchen Lama (p. 49 verse 104) published by Library of Tibetan Works andArchives, Dharamsala 1981.
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Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva eas noted for this compassion and sympathy through kalpas and kalpas bymaking innumerable vows to lead the erring world to Salvation. For details of his innumerable vows see“Bilingual sutra on the original vows and the attainment of merits of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’ translatedfrom Chinese into English by Miss Pitt Chin Hui published by “Self Existing Wisdom Vajrayana DharmaSociety, Kuala Lampur, Malaysia (1959).
 
From above questions it is clear that Great compassion and Bodhimind are inseparable.Vrious Mahayana authors have spoken about this virtue ‘Karuna’. Great AcharyaAryashura has declared in ‘Seventy stanzas’ thus:
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Just as mothers out of affection for an ailing sonin talking his burden on themselves, (suffer) accordinglyso will I work to enhance my compassion towards each and every on goingsentient being.Thus Aryashura teaches that Mercy is really the heart of ethics and religion, as wickednessand corruption will be impossible, when all beings human beings in particular learn to loveothers as their only cherished son. In the Dharmasangiti Sutra also this point is stressed thatfor a bodhisattva no other activity is fitting for him, except working for the benefit of others. Because in his continuum of mindhis svartha (self-interest) = His interest for others. As His Holiness Dalai Lama has said, “If you are interested to work for self then include all beings in your self i. e. Supreme Self or Super Self. Also in Dharma Sangiti Sutra it teaches that a bodhisattva ned not learn manyvirtues but only Great compassion which leads to the acquisition of all the attributes of Buddhahood.Atisha in his lamp for the path to Enlightenment defines a superior person as one who hasgreat compassion. Thus it is said:
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“One who wholly seeks a complete endto the entire suffering of others becausetheir suffering belongs to his own conscious streamthat person is a superior.Shanti Deva in his
 Bodhicaryavatara
goes so far as to declare that even liberation issuperfluous if mahakaruna is mistress of his mind.
Classification
According to the traditional literature compassion are said to be of three types. 
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a)Sattvalambana Karuna (observing sentient beings) b)dharmalambana Karuna (observing phenomena)c)analambana Karuna (observing unapprehendable)These three are great compassions each observing all sentient beings and has a aspect of wishing that these beings be free from misery. They differ greatly from the compassions of shravaka and Pratyeka Buddha. Although Shravaka and Pratyeka Buddha generatecompassion observing limitless number of sentient beings they do not develop the unusualattitude form of compassion, the willingness to take the burden of protecting the sentient beings on themselves.
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Great Buddhist Poet Aryashura has written this great vows out of mercy for all sentient beings when hewas performing the great deeds of compassion similar to Bodhisattva Mahasattva in the story to Tigers andfive cubs. For his vows see ‘Aryasura’ sA Aspiration in seventy stanzas ‘translated and edited by B. C.Beresford, Do boom Tulku, Gonsar Tulku Sherpa Tulku published by LTWA, Dharmasala. India (p. 41 v.no. 49) 1979.
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See Atisha’s A Lamp for the Path and commentary translated and annotated by Richard Sherburne, SJ inWisdom of Tibet Series-5 published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1983. (p. 5)
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For three types of compassion see “Compassion: a tibetan analysis” by Guy Newland, Wisdom publications 1984 (p. 55)
 
a) Compassion observing sentient beings means that compassion arises by seeing thesuffering of sentient beings in lower realms. Due to grasping at truly existent ‘I’ or self grasping the sentient beings creates mass of afflictions, such as desire, anger which leadssentient beings into lower realms. With great effort the beings get the causes of happyrealm. Even if they get the happy rebirth the beings commit non-virtuous deeds all the timegenerating the causes of lower rebirths. Thus wandering in the cyclic existence the beingssuffer greatly. So the bodhisattvas generates compassion of first type with a desire to freetheir sufferings. b) Compassion observing phenomena means that the bodhisattva after realizing the truenature turns away his mind from the concept of true nature of phenomena turns awayhis mind from the mind arises due to the other beings who are ignorant of thisknowledge. According to Buddhist philosophy sentient beings are not permanent andindependent. Due to cause and conditions the aggregates of body and mind seemed toarise, abide and disintegrate moment by moment and lacks substantial identity of their own, compassion arises on beings who believe in permanent nature of the self andsolidity of the things.The third compassion means that having understood and realized the true nature of allentities by direct perception compassion arises in particular for sentient beings wholack true existence.
How to develop Great Compassion
The great virtue compassion is natural and innate in all sentient beings even in suchferocious beasts as lions. It can be develop to fullest extent by practice. Since the practice of the bodhisattva is based on the development of great compassion in it’s allstages and paths, great compassion is prerequisite for a novice bodhisattva. It isimportant in the beginning, important in the middle and important in the end. Variousmethods are explained in the traditional texts in order to develop compassion.However, some of the features of these techniques are explained below:First method
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is our capacity for feeling deep compassion for our mother, if she is beaten, burnt alive or in very cold weathers her body cracks. Again when terrible hunger andthirst suffer her, suffers from terrible disease and when she is depressed with anxietyand fear. Also when she has become very old and feeble and being powerless she isenslaved by others and is beaten to death.So in this way if our mother is struct by misery then compassion must be generated in thedesire to liberate them. Now since we have taken countless births and in each births wehave mothers who spared no pains to protect and shelter us.So all the beings who are now in hells,preta realms, animals are in fact have been our mother compassion must be generated to liberate them from suffering and it cause thinkingthat it is the duty and responsibility of only son of his mother to relieve suffering of her mother.
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This method was described in ‘Jewel Ornament of Liberation’ of Gampopa translated by H. V. Guenther (p. 96)

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