Wednesday, 08 June 2016 17:23

Introducing Buddha's Compassion

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The admonition given by the Buddha in the first verse of the Dhammapada that the human mind is responsible for everything we do- good or evil, is reiterated and embodied in the preamble to the UNESCO Charter of Human Rights which states: 'Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defense of peace must be constructed.'

The Buddha had many enemies. His own cousin, Devadatta, unsuccessfully attempted to kill him three times, and rival religious leaders tried to defame him by accusing him of adultery and falsehood. But the Buddha remained in their midst, unpolluted like the lotus flower which has come to symbolize purity in Buddhism. The Buddha was in the world, but not of the world.

The Buddha's compassion knew no bounds. He had time to talk to scavengers and slave girls, and he accepted the offerings of the humblest of citizens. Once he accepted the half-finished meal of a Brahman because it had been offered with humility, respect and devotion. The Buddha's Teaching has become a very rich doctrine because many other religious teachers had many dialogues and debates with him on the deeper aspects of controversial religious issues like the existence of a creator god, soul theory, divine power, animal sacrifice, austerity, rites and rituals and final salvation. As a result, the Buddha personally clarified many of the controversies which are being argued about even today by those who have different beliefs.

The Buddha was the greatest teacher the world has ever known. Modern educationists would do well to study his methods when they consider how to improve their skills to impart knowledge to others. Not once in the closely recorded life of the Buddha can we find an instance of his becoming angry or impatient with those who could not or did not want to understand him. There was no occasion when the Buddha spoke harshly to another person. His patience, tolerance, all-embracing compassion and merciful wisdom cannot be equaled by any other teacher.

But the Buddha had some supreme faculties which made him greater than any other teacher. He was able to effect 'miraculous' changes of heart and attitudes even in the most antagonistic, obstinate, dull or weak-minded individual because he had the infinite faculty of knowing the past lives which conditioned the peculiar behavior of a certain individual. He knew for example that a young bhikkhu could not meditate on the loathsomeness of the body because, having been a goldsmith in successive previous existences, he could best respond only to beautiful objects. When the Teacher gave him a golden lotus, he quickly gained one-pointedness in concentration of the mind. Again when his listeners gazed at the sky, scratched the earth or shook a tree instead of paying attention, the Buddha was understanding because he knew their behavior was conditioned by their previous existences as an astrologer, a subterranean creature, and a monkey. The Buddha was the first teacher who recognized the importance of knowing the aptitude and psychological makeup of a learner before effective teaching can take place.

That the Buddha was a peerless teacher can be proved by the fact that he did not use the same approach or method when instructing different disciples. The Buddha always suited his teaching to the age, temperament, character, status or mental state of his listeners. He delayed giving a sermon to a congregation until a hungry cowherd was fed because he knew that a hungry man could not concentrate. There were times when he even remained silent because he knew the answers would only confuse the questioner more. As in any community, there were the very highly intelligent like Yen. Sariputta who was intellectually endowed to comprehend the most abstruse teachings as embodied in the Abhidhamma.

On the other hand, the Compassionate Master used different methods for the unintelligent and unskillful, as when he instructed Cula Panthaka to simply think about mental defilements while he rubbed a clean piece of white cloth, facing the East. When Kisa Gotami, distracted with grief, approached him asking for a medicine to restore her dead son, the Buddha asked her to fetch him some mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She could not find in the village a home where Mara (death) had not stalked. Truth dawned upon her and she realized the universality of death. Because of the Buddha's method of instruction, Kisa Gotami, the mother who had walked about clutching the body of her infant son was able to realize the truth as depicted in the verse:

“Uninvited he came,
Uninformed he went,
As he came so he went,
What avails weeping?”

Read 2173 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 12:57
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

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