Monday, November 19, 2012

Compassion Curriculum – An interview with Geshe Thupten Jinpa | The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

 What allows that transition to the experience of compassion free of suffering?
TJ: Partly it's a matter of training, because there is no point in just staying in the state of feeling. It doesn't do good for anybody, either yourself or the other. The initial feeling response is important, because that's what is going to move you to do something. That's where emotions are very powerful, unlike cognitive processes. Emotions are much more powerful and motivating. But at the same time, if you just get caught in that feeling state, then you can get drained and paralyzed. This is where in the Buddhist tradition the discernment, the wisdom, comes in, because wisdom is what guides compassionate motivation, so that what comes out is best suited and most beneficial to any given situation. So in the case of someone like His Holiness, immediately the sight of suffering gives rise to an emotional response, which immediately leads to the wish and then the wish leads to what can be done. I remember vividly an encounter between His Holiness and a psychologically disturbed man that took place in Newport Beach, California, many years ago. As the Dalai Lama was getting out of his car, a man ran directly toward him. When security stopped him, the Dalai Lama went over to the person to talk. The man was suffering from suicidal thoughts and said that he could not quite see the point of living. His Holiness spoke for few minutes about the various things that the person could appreciate in his life, the fact that he is living in a free country, that he might have family and friends who care for him. Clearly, none of this was having any effect. So finally, His Holiness just gave him a bear hug, and the man broke down in tears. This simple physical contact helped the person connect with something deep within himself.
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