Page 16

C U LT I V A T I N G C O M P A S S I O N   /   1 9

he is superior [to that]. If a person aids himself and also aids others, he is the highest; a person like this is supreme.36

Right away the next discourse in the Aṅguttara-nikāya explains that to be practising only for one’s own welfare means to be intent on purifying oneself, without encouraging others to do so.37 Practising only for the welfare of others then stands for encouraging others to purify themselves, without doing so oneself. This explains the at first puzzling indication in the Udānavarga stanza that one should not give up one’s own welfare for the sake of others. It also explains the similarly surprising indication that benefiting oneself is superior to benefiting others. These presentations are made from the perspective of cultivating the path to liberation. From this viewpoint, it is indeed important that one does not neglect first establishing oneself in what one recommends to others.38 In this way, one’s verbal teaching will be grounded in one’s own practice and will be complemented by teaching undertaken by way of example. Early Buddhist compassion thus requires a carefully maintained balance between concern for others and purifying oneself. This is conveniently illustrated in a simile of two acrobats who perform together.39 To perform successfully, they need to establish their own balance as a basis for being able to take care of each other. Similarly, by withdrawing into seclusion to practise intensively one becomes increasingly better able to maintain one’s own inner balance and thereby also better able to take care of others. Practice done in a retreat setting turns into compassionate activity through 36 T 150A.9 at T II 877a26 to b2 (on this text cf. Harrison 1997). The parallel AN 4.95 at A II 95,15 (translated Bodhi 2012: 476) illustrates this with two similes. The first simile compares the one who benefits neither himself nor others to a cremation brand that is burning at both ends and in the middle smeared with dung, which cannot be put to any purpose. The other simile illustrates the one who benefits both himself and others with cream of ghee, which in ancient India was considered the supreme product to be obtained from a cow’s milk. 37 AN 4.96 at AN II 96,11 (translated Bodhi 2012: 477). 38 Schmithausen 2004: 151 comments that “it is obvious that persons who do not exhort or encourage others but who at least themselves practise wholesome behaviour are regarded as being superior to those who merely give good advice, without practising themselves what they recommend to others.” 39 SN 47.19 at SN V 168,18 (translated Bodhi 2000: 1648) and its parallel SĀ 619 at T II 173b7 (translated Anālayo 2013c: 244f); cf. also the Bhaiṣajyavastu of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, T 1448 at T XXIV 32b10.

C&EIE pages 234x156 v9s01.indd 19

10/06/2015 18:07

Profile for Windhorse Publications

An excerpt from Analayo's Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation  

Here's an excerpt from Analayo's Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation on cultivating compassion.

An excerpt from Analayo's Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation  

Here's an excerpt from Analayo's Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation on cultivating compassion.

Advertisement