Unique Interpretation of the Psychological State of “Compassion” from Mahāyāna Buddhist Perspective (79159)

Session Information: Buddhist Literature
Session Chair: Marc Nürnberger

Saturday, 25 May 2024 11:25
Session: Session 2
Room: Room 707
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

What exactly is the psychological state called "compassion?" Is it different from other expressions such as "empathy", "sympathy", etc.? The etymological analysis of the term provides us with the information that it is generally translated as "suffering (passion) together (com)". However, is it an absolute and universal definition applicable to any culture? Many people help others by conducting "good deeds". But why do they do these things? There are, of course, people who do it from their altruism without expecting any return. But when I try to help someone else, something is always behind my motivation that drives me to do good deeds. Even though I do not wish for some material return on the surface, I will implicitly expect mental returns. It is almost impossible for me to conduct "compassionate" acts without self-satisfaction and narcissistic feelings. In this work, I try to suggest unique interpretation of the psychological state of "compassion" from an Asian perspective while mainly using some Mahāyāna Buddhist ideologies such as the “middle way", "Buddha nature", and “non-production of evil (諸悪莫作). As a tentative conclusion, I argue that the psychological state of "compassion" is the mentality we can’t intend to be, but naturally emerges in our mind only when we have the sense of inter-connectedness of the phenomenal world including "I" and "you". At that time, our "selfish" actions become "altruistic" as they are. Only through this realization can we spontaneously conduct a compassionate act in a dimension different from intellectual thinking, mental imagination, or self-deception.

Eiji Suhara, Arizona State University, United States

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Eiji Suhara is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at Arizona State University in United States

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00