We have seen that Mahayana Buddhism places a heavy emphasis on compassion. The ideal in this tradition is the Bodhisattva -- a being, not unlike yourself, who makes the commitment to remain in the realm of samsara (the world of rebirth and suffering) until all sentient beings are liberated.
This week, we'll focus even more intensely on the compassionate life and its benefits, not only on the recipients of compassion, but also for the one practicing it
READING THE SOURCES
By the end of this piece, you should be able to answer the following questions:
How is compassion understood as a state of mind or mental attitude according to Buddhist thought?
What distinguishes the two types of love and compassion (attachment and genuine) and their results in human experience?
What is the "qualitative difference" the Dalai Lama describes between thinking about one's own suffering and accepting another's suffering for a "higher purpose"?
What are the proven benefits of compassion to personal and collective well being?"
Please be advised that you can rotate the text to read it online or print it out.
A. TEXT REFLECTION ESSAY
Reflect upon the following: When Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn fell gravely ill, his students wanted to know what they could do to support him. His response was , "Keep yourselves in stability and peace." Why did he say this? Use the ideas presented by the Dalai Lama to explore its meaning.
B. MEDITATION REFLECTION ESSAY
You have two options this week for your meditation practice:
Meditate for 10-15 minutes and at the end of your meditation chant the four great vows (p. 193) 3 times with the strong intention to become a Bodhisattva yourself (i.e., to live a life in dedication to the liberation of all sentient beings)
Choose one of the mantras on p. 196 and repeat it mentally 108 times or for appromately 10 minutes. Audio versions of these mantra can be found below. If it's easier for you, feel free to chant along with these.
a) Buddho Mantra instruction (9 minutes)
b) Nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu) as a Chant (10:32 minutes)