Buddhist Teachings

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on Compassion


There are three aspects to Buddhist teachings:
  • Compassion
  • Wisdom
  • Skillful means  (mind technology - the techniques for cultivating wisdom and compassion).

This website is concerned primarily with science and philosophy, and defending the Dharma against the materialism currently  prevalent amongst many scientifically educated people. In doing  so it risks giving an unbalanced view of Buddhist beliefs and practice,  making them seem rather arid and intellectual.

According to the New Kadampa Tradition, Buddhist beliefs are of little use if just held intellectually, they also need to be 'realised'  intuitively and then mixed with the root mind.  The main motivation of Buddhist training is to develop deep compassion for all sentient beings, this is known as bodhicitta.

The eminent Tibetan scholar Geshe Kelsang Gyatso states in Universal Compassion [1] that compassion is the root of a Buddha because all Buddhas arise fom the mind of compassion, it is the root of Dharma because Buddhas give Dharma teachings out of compassion for others, and it is the root of the Sangha (the community of Buddhist practitioners) because it is impossible to become Sangha without practising compassion.   Universal Compassion is a translation and commentary on Geshe Chekhawa's Training the mind in Seven Points. It is probably the clearest and  most beautiful explanation in the English language of Mahayana teachings and meditational practices on compassion.

Buddhist teachings on compassion are extremely practical. Their immediate purpose is to lessen the stress on ourselves and those around us by making us more peaceful, understanding and patient. Ultimately, they reduce the negative imprints in our root mind that form the causes of uncontrolled rebirth and the obstacles to liberation.  Anyone first developing an interest in the Dharma through philosophical or scientific debate needs to gain some familiarity with the complementary teachings and practices of compassion,  in order to form a balanced view of the Dharma as a complete worldview.

Cherishing others
'.....Cherishing others is not so difficult - all we need to do is to understand why we should cherish others and then make a firm decision to do so. Through meditating on this decision we shall develop a deep and powerful feeling of cherishing for all beings. We then carry this special feeling into our daily life....'


[1]    Universal Compassion, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, publ London:Tharpa, 1993 (2nd edn)
ISBN 0 948006 24 2

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