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solenziz
12-28-2022, 06:44 PM
My understanding so far is that compassion is the practice of making an effort to reduce suffering for yourself or others. Many of the practices we do (e.g., zazen, right speech, right action, dana, etc.) I see as core practices, or standard solutions, that achieve this. Sometimes, however, we have to tailor our compassionate act to the suffering we observe. I see 'problem-solving' (observe, understand, identify root cause, develop a solution, implement) as a technique to tailor our response. But when reading about compassion in zen, there is a focus on 'compassion as a natural response' when observing suffering, born out of wisdom. What is this natural response and how to practice it? Is this 'natural response' the same as problem-solving?

Gassho
Michael
Sat

Bion
12-28-2022, 06:48 PM
I think that kind of compassion is the naturally arising compassion that stems from realizing the no-separation. If I truly, wholeheartedly realize that I am you and he is us and we are one, I canít be anything but compassionate, because caring for you is caring for the ALL.
Until it arises naturally though, Iíd better make an effort to practice it.

[emoji1374] Sat today lah

Shujin
12-28-2022, 07:36 PM
I think that kind of compassion is the naturally arising compassion that stems from realizing the no-separation. If I truly, wholeheartedly feel I am you and he is us and we are one, I can’t be anything but compassionate, because caring for you is caring for the ALL.
Until it arises naturally though, I’s better make an effort to practice it.

[emoji1374] Sat today lah

I agree with Bion's understanding, although I also think that you're on the right track with thinking critically about a situation that involves suffering. Although we are all connected, our suffering and its response are not equal. This a problem that I see in American public education, especially with restorative justice. The suffering of a bully is not the same as that of her victim.

Gassho,
Shujin

st

Tai Do
12-28-2022, 09:08 PM
I think Bion and Shujin answered very well. In seeing everyone as Buddha, not separated self-existences, we don't have to practice compassion as someone practices for a marathon, but as a natural (not separated from intentional) expression of our buddha-nature. Like we are discussing in the Precepts study for Jukai, the precepts, and also the bramaviharas - compassion, loving-kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity - are the natural ways of acting of a Bodhisattva. Until we come to live as Bodhisattvas in all our interactions with others, we can practice the more rationalized version of compassionate behaviour.

But I also think that problem-solving thinking is essential to eliminating many of the sufferings of the world, and inescapable if we are to have a future in this planet. I don't think it is separated from the natural expression of compassion. When we see suffering, we, as Bodhisattvas, react to it. We can even react without giving much thought to our compassionate reaction. But it doesn't mean we don't think hard, problem-solving way, about these issues; I think it only means that in the moment, action is more important than reflection. Reflecting and acting are like two parts of compassionate action to me, one that I do "at home", in my thinking time, other that I do "in the world" interacting with suffering sentient beings. I hope I made some sense.

The other thing that I came to realize thinking about it is that we as individuals difficultly have the means and power to solve the root-causes of suffering; they are much greater, bigger, social, planetary, systemic, structural issues that need a great deal of policy, money, skills and power to solve. In reacting to suffering sentient beings, we are not solving the big issues, just temporarily alleviating their suffering. Like the kids my wife and I gave some presents and food today: we will not solve their problem, it is bigger than anything we can do; they need a specific and weel-made policy that deals with children in need of food and shelter. We can only do this collectively. So other reason for not emphasizing problem-solving thinking in dealing with compassion can be that it brings us a kind of pessimistic "there is nothing I can do to really change this". We prefer the case by case compassionate action because it is the only thing we can do as individuals (although as society we can do much, much more).

Sorry for running longer than I should have!

Gassho,
Mateus
Satlah

Zenkon
12-29-2022, 12:30 AM
I see a major distinction between compassion and problem-solving. Compassion involves empathy, an emotional concern for how another being feels (as opposed to pity, which is how I feel about another person's plight). It is focused on the other's "feelings", irrespective of the cause of these feelings or any possible beneficial action. Problem-solving is analytical, focused on the practical aspects of the problem and on possible solutions - the old "Scientific Method" - identify the problem, imagine a hypothetical solution, experiment (try the solution). If it works, done. If it doesn't, review the hypothesis and try another solution. The thinking and actions ignore the "feelings" of the participants. Think this way - in everyday life, if my spouse has a problem, the last thing she wants is for me to solve her problem. She wants compassion, understanding, sympathy.

Gassho

Zenkon

KvonNJ
12-29-2022, 01:44 AM
I sort of think compassion is a default setting for the human psyche. Other behaviors have to be learned

Jundo
12-29-2022, 02:38 AM
I sort of think compassion is a default setting for the human psyche. Other behaviors have to be learned

Don't forget to sign a human name or Dharma Name from Jukai ... and "sat today." And, everyone, try to write the "Sat Today/Sat etc.," if you would, rather than to put it automatically in the footer. Thank you, Karl. gassho2

Gassho, Jundo

sattodayLAH

Jundo
12-29-2022, 02:55 AM
I read such wise responses from the folks above, and I am sure that more will come.

In worldly terms, I believe that this practice opens our hearts to the suffering of others. We feel more what it is to be in their shoes, and we want to help.

Of course, we do not always automatically know the right thing to do, or how much. Sometimes we act, and it turns out all wrong. Sometimes we even have to say "no" to someone as an act of compassion (for example, expecting the person to be responsible and help themselves more.) However, we always consider to try to do what is right, and I think that this practice opens our hearts to the question more. It may even allow us to be more perceptive, and to "read" what is required better.

There is, though, one more and vital meaning of "Buddhist Compassion" in Zen and Mahayana practice that we must never forget nor fail to keep in mind. In fact, it is one of our unique and most powerful gifts which we have to offer to save the sentient beings:

"Compassion" in Buddhist meaning is not just the ordinary meaning of being "compassionate," i.e., kind and empathetic. In traditional Mahayana and Zen meaning, "to free all sentient beings" means to show them that, ultimately, there are no separate "sentient beings" thus, no separation, thus no suffering. The sentient beings, thinking they are separate sentient beings, do not realize so. All is/are empty of separate self-existence, and each and all is/are each other and the whole thing. When the separate sentient beings realize such fact of no separation, thus they are saved ... which also occurs when, in our Zazen, one realizes this no separation and thus no separate sentient beings in need of saving. Because there is no separation, there is never anything lacking or hole in need of filling from the startless start. By showing the sentient beings this truth and having them profoundly understand, we save them ... although nobody to save! :)

HOWEVER, at the same time, in this world, to rescue the sentient beings can ALSO mean to feed and house, comfort and support the many poor of this world. Even if all are "empty," there are also many hungry people in the world with empty stomachs who deserve food, and worldly concerns. In fact, every kind of generosity and friendship, peaceful and loving act is most welcome.

(sorry to run long)

gassho2

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday Lah

Zenkon
12-29-2022, 03:25 AM
So very well said. Thank you

gassho1

Zenkon

solenziz
01-02-2023, 02:20 PM
Thank you all! My updated understanding:
1. Compassion as a natural response refers to our response to suffering when we have 'polished' away delusions realizing that there is no separate self (gradual process). The intention and action to help come naturally and don't need to be forced.
2. Compassion is to empathize with yourself or others, but it is ALSO the intention to, and the act of trying to, reduce or eliminate suffering. Some problems/suffering can be solved now, some later, some only partly, some you can only influence, and some are just to be accepted and embraced. To identify suffering, discern what you should do about it, and implement that solution is all compassion.
3. Practice compassion deliberately (even though it doesn't always come spontaneously)
4. Problem-solving is a useful technique to practice compassion (identify, understand, develop solutions, test, etc.). Think of it as "suffering-solving". BUT you have to identify the right problem to solve (ref. Zenkon's post about a spouse who wants only to be understood)

gassho2
Michael
SatToday

Jundo
01-02-2023, 02:56 PM
Thank you all! My updated understanding:
1. Compassion as a natural response refers to our response to suffering when we have 'polished' away delusions realizing that there is no separate self (gradual process). The intention and action to help come naturally and don't need to be forced.
2. Compassion is to empathize with yourself or others, but it is ALSO the intention to, and the act of trying to, reduce or eliminate suffering. Some problems/suffering can be solved now, some later, some only partly, some you can only influence, and some are just to be accepted and embraced. To identify suffering, discern what you should do about it, and implement that solution is all compassion.
3. Practice compassion deliberately (even though it doesn't always come spontaneously)
4. Problem-solving is a useful technique to practice compassion (identify, understand, develop solutions, test, etc.). Think of it as "suffering-solving". BUT you have to identify the right problem to solve (ref. Zenkon's post about a spouse who wants only to be understood)

gassho2
Michael
SatToday

Hi Michael,

I would keep it much simpler.

If one sees others' suffering, then please empathize.

One cannot always help, but if you can, offer aid. Sometimes that includes saying "no." Sadly, we cannot solve all problems of the world.

Follow one's heart, even knowing that sometimes it will not turn out right.

No formula fits all of life's situations, however.

Know that the ultimate Buddhist Compassion is to show the sentient beings that there are no sentient beings, no lack or need. Even so, feed the empty mouths which hunger.

Gassho, J

stlah

solenziz
01-02-2023, 07:02 PM
Thank you, Jundo!

gassho2
Michael
SaTLaH

JohnS
01-03-2023, 12:40 PM
Hi Michael,

I would keep it much simpler.

If one sees others' suffering, then please empathize.

One cannot always help, but if you can, offer aid. Sometimes that includes saying "no." Sadly, we cannot solve all problems of the world.

Follow one's heart, even knowing that sometimes it will not turn out right.

No formula fits all of life's situations, however.

Know that the ultimate Buddhist Compassion is to show the sentient beings that there are no sentient beings, no lack or need. Even so, feed the empty mouths which hunger.

Gassho, J

stlah

gassho2

Gassho

John

SatToday

michaelw
01-03-2023, 02:24 PM
How not to help. 101

I was walking through the market some months ago when I saw a young girl sitting on a blanket with a piece of cardboard on which was written ‘I am hungry’. Short and succinct message so as my hand reached for my wallet, I remembered that ‘we’ are not supposed to give money direct to people begging but buy a coffee and sandwich. Fair enough there is a coffee shop further on.
Then an internal dialogue started: I wonder if she takes sugar? Does she drink coffee? What about a sandwich is she vegetarian/vegan/coeliac/lactose intolerant/nut allergy?

Headline in local paper beggar dies of anaphylactic shock passer by sought.

She got nothing. I went home a different way. Next time I will simply say ‘how can I help you’?

Gassho
MichaelW

sat

Tokan
01-07-2023, 03:29 AM
TN Hanh and Engaged Buddhism - bringing compassion and problem-solving together.

I work in healthcare, compassion is essential, as a value and as a practice, but it also needs to move you to action - I can sit with your pain or get the morphine!

Gassho, Tokan (satlah)