Indiscriminate Compassion

  • Khen Lampert
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)


The religious and intellectual traditions of India pose a unique challenge to the idea of compassion, despite the fact that they developed through a systematic occupation with the suffering and transient existential state of human beings. The point of departure for this concern with human suffering is its presentation in the framework of a chaotic cosmic reality — ever-changing, fleeting, and lacking all purpose — of miserable and fragmentary human existence in which pleasure and satisfaction of needs have no meaning:

In this ill-smelling, unsubstantial body, which is a conglomerate of bone, skin, muscle, marrow, flesh, semen, blood, mucus, tears, rheum, feces, urine, wind, bile, and phlegm, what is the good of enjoyment of desires? And we see that this whole world is decaying, as these gnats, mosquitoes, and the like, the grass, and the trees that arise and perish…Among other things, there is the drying up of great oceans, the falling away of the mountain peaks, the deviation of the fixed pole-star… In this sort of cycle of existence (saṃsāra) what is good of enjoyment of desires, when after a man has fed on them there is seen repeatedly his return here to earth? Maitri Upanishad1


Phenomenal World Buddhist Tradition Buddhist Literature Buddhist Perspective Buddhist Scripture 
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© Khen Lampert 2005

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  • Khen Lampert

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