Emptiness and Compassion

On Thursday, our last class, we discussed about the link between emptiness and compassion whether or not the understanding of emptiness creates a sense of compassion. I was particularly interested in this topic, so I did some research and found out that compassion could be divided into three types. The first is compassion that focuses on sentient beings; if we look closely at the painful situations that sentient beings experience, we feel compassion and want to change their miserable conditions. The second is compassion that focuses on ignorance as the root of all suffering; everything is impermanence and constantly changing, but due to ignorance, sentient beings grasp and cling to their lives as if they will last for aeons. Finally, the third compassion is compassion without any focus/ objectless compassion. It is the deepest level of compassion; it is the meditation on the absolute state of equanimity. This compassion arises from the realization of emptiness and is free from all desire and duality. According to the article, this level of meditation is achieved gradually, and it is not as easy to understand as the first two types of compassion. Thus, 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. On the other hand, if you focus your meditation practice on emptiness, then your loving-kindness and compassion will spontaneously grow.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches stated “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.”

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One thought on “Emptiness and Compassion”

  1. Jasmine, this rings true in so much of life, yet we often don’t appreciate these insights. In the sudden light of this pandemic, the relationship between compassion and emptiness reveals itself more starkly….. we sometimes simply have to close our eyes to process what we’ve seen.

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