Boundless compassion

Boundless compassion means wishing all sentient beings to be free from suffering and all the causes of suffering. The important element of boundless compassion is a profound experience of the suffering of sentient beings, as well as the fervent wish for them to be liberated from suffering.

Through visualising the suffering in samsara, we understand the suffering of every sentient being in the six realms. As they are unable to avoid suffering, they float along in the ocean of suffering, following the flow of their karma. The sentient beings in the three higher realms have temporary peace and happiness; however, after the fruits of their positive karma have expended, the fruits of their negative karma will manifest themselves. Whilst sentient beings wish to be free of suffering and obtain happiness, they truly do not know the causes of happiness and peace resulting from the practice of positive Dharma. On the contrary, in pursuing the short-term happiness before their eyes, they perform all the ten negative actions. The result of this leads to far more extreme pain and suffering in the future.

Through the experience of our own suffering, we can understand that other sentient beings similarly experience suffering. From our own fear of pain and suffering, and wish for happiness, we can surmise how other sentient beings also wish to achieve happiness, along with the strong wish to be liberated from pain and suffering.

When we have a headache or a fever, we feel as if our bodies have no strength. It does not matter whether the food is good, or how many nice things there are in front of us, we still are not able to be happy. We just wish that this illness will quickly come to an end. When we are pricked on the hand by a small needle, we think this is really painful, and we immediately pull our hand away. These are some small daily pains and sufferings that we feel, that we do not want to endure, and try to avoid. On the other hand, sometimes the pain may be very intense.

Imagine that you are a prisoner being led to execution. Maybe you are a sheep or a cow that is in line to be slaughtered. There is nowhere to escape to and no place to hide. There is nobody coming to save you. You want to revolt but have no ability to do so. In the next moment you will be leaving this world. At this moment, how will you describe your suffering and fear?! If that prisoner or that cow or sheep at the abattoir was our mother or our father, just think how panic stricken they would be. How much they would wish to be saved! Although the sentient being that is experiencing this pain and suffering is not our parent in this life, they were certainly our parent in a previous life and treated us with the same loving-kindness and care as our mother in this life. They brought us up, but now they are experiencing such intense pain and suffering, and you have no power or ability to save them.

Frequent visualisation in this way will gradually give rise to unbearable, great, immeasurable compassion.

This chapter is part of: Introduction Course - Part 2: Bodhichitta