Great Compassion

Out of compassion the Bodhisatta developed all the perfections for innumerable lives. He aspired to help other beings to attain enlightenment as well. The commentary to the Cariyapitaka Ven. Bodhi, p. 262. states that each perfection goes together with compassion and skilful means. The same commentary explains that “skilful means” is the wisdom which makes the noble qualities of the Bodhisatta into requisites of enlightenment. When he developed these virtues he always had in mind the attainment of Buddhahood for the sake of other beings. The “great aspiration” to help other beings to attain the goal is the condition for all the perfections without exception, the same commentary states.

We read about the “Great Compassion” of the Buddha in the “Path of Discrimination” (Patisambhidamagga, Part I, Treatise on Knowledge, Ch 71) First all the dangers and disadvantages of the cycle of birth and death which are seen by the Buddhas are summed up, such as:

“Worldly life moves on. Worldly life is on the wrong road ... The world has no lastingness and is led on. The world has no shelter and no protector. The world has nothing of its own, it has to leave all and pass on. The world is incomplete, insatiate, and the slave of craving. Worldly life is without shelter. Worldly life is without shield. Worldly life is without refuge ... Worldly life is no refuge ... The world is agitated and disturbed ... Worldly life is wounded by darts, pierced by many darts; there is none other than myself to draw out the darts ... ”

We then read about numerous other disadvantages of worldly life. Only a Buddha can by his omniscience fully see the extent of the danger of being in the cycle of birth and death. This arouses his compassion so that he is determined to help other beings to attain freedom from the cycle. Further on we read:

“Upon the Enlightened Ones, the Blessed Ones, who see thus, ‘I have crossed over and the world has not crossed over; I am liberated and the world is not liberated; I am controlled and the world is uncontrolled; I am at peace and the world is not at peace; I am comforted and the world is comfortless; I am extinguished and the world is unextinguished; I, having crossed over, can bring across; I, being liberated, can liberate; I, being controlled, can teach control; I, being at peace, can pacify; I, being comforted, can comfort; I, being extinguished, can teach extinguishment, ’ there descends the Great Compassion. This is the Perfect Ones knowledge of the attainment of the Great Compassion.”

Topic 273