Monday, October 6, 2008


Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies - ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'
- Kurt Vonnegut

When we are able to perceive all things as impermanent, then we can have compassion.
- Palden Gyatso "From torture to tolerance: A Tibetan Lama's survival under Chinese occupation" Friday, Oct. 28, 2005

The exercise of compassion is what matters in our world.
- Karen Armstrong, Parabola magazine vol. 31 no. 3
Compassion is something that I need in order to help others when at the same time I need help myself, and to help myself when I'd rather let myself go. But having compassion is not always easy in either case. I think a view to personal benefit is not inherently inconsistent with compassion, whereas it would be with altruism by definition. Is it possible (or even desireable) to have compassion for everyone? I can't answer that. And does a desire to be compassionate require a desire for suffering since without suffering, there is no need for compassion? But I think this is not so, because suffering is an unavoidable part of life that needs no invitation.
"Many contemplative traditions speak of loving-kindness as the wish for happiness for others and of compassion as the wish to relieve others' suffering. Loving-kindness and compassion are central to the Dalai Lama's philosophy and mission," says Davidson, who has worked extensively with the Tibetan Buddhist leader. "We wanted to see how this voluntary generation of compassion affects the brain systems involved in empathy."
Matthieu Ricard participated in this study involving fMRI brain scans to see the effect of meditating on compassion. This is all very interesting. I think it is somewhat similar to prayer in the Christian tradition. The primary motivation for many prayers is compassion.


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