Compassion Demands Response

Ajahn Pasanno

Compassion Demands Response

I would like to consider the application of these brahmaviharas. Buddhist practice is sometimes criticized as being ineffectual and quiescent—that basically the Buddha’s teaching is to sit in a quiet meditation room and placidly think thoughts of loving-kindness.

But that’s not at all the Buddha’s teaching nor indeed his example. The cultivation of the brahmaviharas conditions action, as the intentions and qualities of the heart and mind inevitably color how one engages in the world. So the brahmaviharas advocate action in situations that require such intervention. This is an important aspect of these qualities.

In one of the suttas (A 3.194), Ananda is silent when a dying monk stubbornly and erroneously contradicts the more learned Sariputta on a point of doctrine. Sariputta was called the right-hand disciple of the Buddha and second only to him in wisdom. When the matter is brought to the Buddha’s attention, he corrects and admonishes the dying monk. He also says to Ananda,”Ananda will you look on when an elder monk [Sariputta] is being bothered? Will you not have compassion when an elder monk is being bothered?”

The quality of compassion demands us to respond when faced with unskillful deeds. One should not let such acts go by without a response.

This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Broad View, Boundless Heart, (pdf) p. 25.