“Compassion is the beneficial thought that moves you to help other sentient beings. It arises when you see their misery and pain, and you feel from the depth of your heart that you want to remove that suffering.
Compassion can be divided into three types. The first is compassion that focuses on sentient beings, the second is compassion that focuses on ignorance, and the third is compassion without any focus. The first type of compassion is easy to understand; if we look closely at the painful situations that sentient beings experience, we feel compassion and want to change their miserable conditions.
The second kind of compassion is directed toward a deeper level; it is compassion for the ignorance that sentient beings have about the true nature of phenomena. Everything about their bodies, possessions, and emotions is constantly changing, but due to ignorance, sentient beings grasp and cling to their lives as if they will last for aeons. Then, when things change, they suffer. This type of compassion focuses on ignorance as the root of all suffering.
The third type of compassion is objectless compassion. The first two types of compassion have objects: the first has the suffering of sentient beings and the second has their ignorance, but the third type has no particular focus. It is the deepest level of compassion; it is the meditation on the absolute state of equanimity. With this kind of compassion there are no distinctions between sentient beings and nonsentient beings; one’s compassion is equal for all. One simply rests in the absolute, natural state, without any particular ideas or judgments. This compassion arises from the realization of emptiness and is free from all desire and duality. This level of meditation is achieved gradually and it is not as easy to under- stand as the first two types of compassion.
Practicing compassion will bring about the recognition of emptiness as the true nature of the mind. When you practice virtuous actions of love and compassion on the relative level, you spontaneously realize the profound nature of emptiness, which is the absolute level. In turn, if you focus your meditation practice on emptiness, then your loving-kindness and compassion will spontaneously grow.
These two natures, the absolute and the relative, are not opposites; they always arise together. They have the same nature; they are inseparable like a fire and its heat or the sun and its light. Compassion and emptiness are not like two sides of a coin. Emptiness and compassion are not two separate elements joined together; they are always coexistent.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path
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