Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Compassion as Humbling Agent

Barry over at Ox Herding has a quality post I'm going to quote in full:

Recently someone new to Buddhism asked how it was that the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Quanyin, could serve as the "patron" of both vegetarians and fishermen.

There was an aggrieved tone in the person's voice: How could she?

I replied that true compassion does not depend on conditions.

Without hesitation, Quanyin offers unstinting compassion to vegetarians and carnivores, fishermen and farmers, and saints and murderers.

That's because Quanyin has laid down the mind that picks and chooses based on like and dislike. She only responds to what is.

Indeed, love can only arise in response to what is. Everything else is fantasy.

These are easy words to write, but to live without dependence on conditions . . . well, that's something else. That's why clear-eyed direction is so important.

I've experienced this firsthand several times during the past few days. After the sloppy board meeting I ran on Sunday, more than one board member assured me that I had done a good job. They we're being patronizing; I was aware of how they were seeing beyond the content and form, and responding to who I am as a person and leader. I felt humbled. and yesterday, a good friend's response to express basic kindness and offers of prayers to her estranged husband, who had caused her a lot of trouble and was on his way out the door and moving away, hopefully for good. She said to me "I don't want to hate him because that follows you. I want to be kind, even if he isn't." I'm even more humbled by her comments, feeling that I could use a little work in embodying compassion more seamlessly.


spldbch said...

Wow, talk about examples of "being the bigger person." I think most of us could use work on this area.

Barry said...

Thank you much for the re-post, Nathan. And for the personal exploration of how can bring compassion alive in each moment.

Sara said...

Gorgeous post - I love the anecdote at the end.

I'm having some difficulties with a house-mate at the moment, and it's great to be reminded of the importance of staying true to our integrity, and just trusting that basic kindness will get us a long way in this world.