Saturday, 11 April 2009

Compassion: Mahayana vs Theravada

Roshi Robert Aitken (wiki) writes:
Nowhere among Mahayana practices is concern for other beings expressed more
clearly than in the metta practice of loving kindness in Theravada Buddhism. One
begins with a focus upon the self:
May I be free from danger.
May I have mental happiness.
May I have physical happiness.
May I have the ease of well-being. 8
Metta then is directed to those near and dear—may they be free from danger, and so on—then to those about whom one feels neutral, then to enemies, and so on to all beings. Under the guidance of a seasoned teacher, the resistance one feels to this compassionate practice is faced squarely and allowed to wither and disappear.
"Formal Practice: Buddhist or Christian" - Buddhist-Christian Studies 22 (2002)

8) Sharon Salsberg, Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Boston: Sham-
bhala, 1995), p. 32.


  1. There you (Theravada 100%) go. But I (Mahayana 100%) don't know.

    Check this out, if you can: "The understanding and experience of compassion: Aquinas and the Dalai Lama." It's an Academic OneFile, you'd have to be logged on to that service to read it, I think. Aquinas's agape and HHDL's karuna are seen as similar, sparkling mahacompassion. Mahayana rocks!

  2. from Buddhist-Christian Studies 27.(Annual 2007): p11(19). (9501 words) Article also available at questia.