Freedom is "to be free IN all conditions..."
It is NOT "to be free FROM any of them!"

"The Integrated Yawning and Stretching Technique" or "AuraPuri"

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Suffering and Quasi Compassion

Wim: When all beliefs are dropped radically, a deep insight into suffering results, an insight accompanied and exemplified by what we tend to recognize as insight and compassion in bodhisattvic(1) beings. 

Paul: Have you become one?  

Wim: I don't think one can "become" such a compassionate being through effort or behavioral practices, but I think that a radical dropping of all beliefs and the resulting understanding and insight will let you discover that you are...  

Paul: OK, I can see that... I feel compassion, but especially for people who suffer unnecessarily.  

Wim: That's good of course, but I wonder why you are using the word "unnecessarily." Do you mean that you can see some kind of necessity in the case of other people… some justification for suffering for people who may have run into suffering "rightfully" or "deservedly?"

Paul: Well, I can see that suffering has a purpose.  

Wim: Really? But how can that be? I can see that pain can serve some purpose, but suffering? When we hurt ourselves, say by running into something, the pain we experience can help us to become more careful and observant. It is a way to learn to avoid knocking things over. Pain can be a useful conditioning tool, humans can learn through pain, as can animals. There are other ways though to learn… without pain as motivation. But even if pain can be an effective motivator in conditioning, it is still not necessarily needed all the time in conditioning.
Paul: But pain has a place, don't you think? And I think suffering too.  

Wim: OK, pain yes. But I can see no benefit in suffering, not at all. How could there be a merit in suffering, except maybe in some eh… perverted way...? Well, that may be it, I think I'm nailing it: there is no merit in suffering except for some perverted meritorious gain to people and institutions who subject their charges to suffering in order to create subservience and servility, etc. so that they can profit from it. Pain though, yes you are right, pain is a different matter, life per se cannot be free from it, pain is part and parcel of life.

Paul: OK Wim, I start seeing the distinction between suffering and pain, but let me get back to the issue of compassion. I do feel compassion for people who suffer for no reason at all, but I also still feel that some people are the cause of their own suffering, some invite it upon themselves for reasons that have strictly to do with themselves.

Wim: Does that also mean then that they don't deserve your compassion? The way you see compassion, can you really call that compassion? Where half an apple is still apple, I suggest that the same cannot be said for compassion. Something like pregnancy: one cannot be half-pregnant or a just little. One cannot be compassionate to some but not to others, I would call that quasi-compassion. Compassion is either fully unconditional or it is something that only carries the label but is not what it is labeled to be. Could it be, Paul, that the compassion you are feeling is actually a conditional sentiment?  

Paul: I don't know Wim, but when I feel compassion for people who suffer unnecessarily I try to help, even when help annoys them and is resented and they think of me as a sadistic asshole. But yes, I feel compassion, but that doesn't mean I consider myself a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is just another silly ideal.
Wim: Did you ever try to find out what the notion of "bodhisattva" entails? Bodhisattvic characteristics are not about the popularized notions of bodhisattva-hood, notions like the Bodhisattva vow or the "Nirvana can wait" type of thing. If those flawed understandings about bodhisattva-hood mean anything, they have more to do with quasi-compassion than compassion. The conditionality of those sentiments is a clear sign of their quasi-ness. A "half truth" being the most perplexing form of a lie, maybe the same can be said about quasi-compassion...
Paul: You might be right Wim, but I think that's a tough one.  

Wim: It is not hard to find out what the motivation behind quasi-compassion is, and it is also quite understandable why and how it develops. I'm just thinking, could it be that quasi-compassion is depicted on one side of the same coin that shows suffering on the other side? Don't quasi-compassion and suffering/illusion go side by side, hand in hand… the one manipulating the other and vice versa? Could it be that the "abused" has learned from the "abuser" how to reciprocate through some sort of reverse manipulation? Aren't those who see some meritorious value in suffering also not very often the ones who dole out their own personal brand of compassion, especially when they see a pay-off on their investment in their game of power and subversion, dominance and dependency? It seems to me that the wheels of pseudo-life are well greased by those illusive and deluding maneuvers.  

Paul: Could be Wim, but isn't that a rather harsh observation?
Wim: Well, not as harsh as feeling convinced or vindicated that some of those who suffer had it coming, that it is their own fault… that they were asking for it, that their suffering is somehow justified, some sort of deserved punishment…

Paul: Well that could make me feel very uncomfortable if indeed you are right.
Wim: If what we were just talking about made you feel accused, that is understandable, but there is no need to feel uncomfortable too long.  

Paul: Funny, you should say that. I start feeling that you might be right, and strangely enough it does not make me feel rotten or guilty. I think that understanding this better, makes me understand myself better… like how I got into doing those manipulative things myself… Hmm… understanding this makes me feel like I can forgive myself…  

Wim: Once one sees the workings of one's own "dominance / dependency" manipulations, once one looks at them carefully - looking through them - inspecting them with honest clarity, then surprisingly, compassion for oneself and for those who may have been the target of one's manipulations, arises unconditionally . Once one achieves a thorough understanding of the potentially mala fide mechanics of one's own manipulations, they will gently – and sometimes not so gently – disappear. One sees how the obfuscating veils of their illusiveness dissolve. Hopefully the recipients of our actions will also gain compassion, as they might see that what we may have purposely done to them – apparently through our own volition – that it wasn't really any different from that what was done to us in our past. They might see that we were passing those actions through… as inherited actions so to speak… being passed down to us through our ancestors… something like St. Augustine's(2) "original sin," a notion that Calvin(3) translated as "Erbsunde" or "inherited sin." Anyway, moralistic theology aside... suffering and illusion being illusive anyway, they can easily dissolve. Only the seemingly real appearance of illusion and suffering in a dysfunctional mental pseudo-reality makes them look more real than reality itself.  

Notes: (1)Bodhisattvas (e.g. Quan Yin) are human beings who endeavor to live with insight (bodhi), understanding (sattva) and compassion as their sole motivation. There is a tradition that holds that Bodhisattvas postpone Nirvana in order to save all beings. (2) St. Augustine, 354 - 430 CE (3) Calvin, 1509 - 1564 CE

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