I’m talking about Quan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Bodhi Sattva means Satchitananda in yoga. Bodhi (chit) means mind. Sat means being or Just This. When knowing (Bodhis) IS Sat or being, BAM! knowing is being; being is knowing. You are the Cosmos knowing itself as Just This. I say the Cosmos because if I say God, I freak people out. The Cosmos knows itself through you and me. We are the Cosmos knowing itself. It’s quite simple.
We think we are outside of the cosmos, or Being, knowing being from across the street. But we ARE Being. Yet we separate ourselves from Being and call it IT, and this separation is what Buddha says in his Four Noble Truths is the cause of our suffering and discontent with life. We are separated from our own being by our mind that is a duality operating system. To know something as that something means you have to give up your position outside of something as the knower of something.
AH…here is the mystery and paradox of Zen. You ARE IT and you are not it. That is compassion. That is Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion. She evolved in time from the 10,000 year old Shiva to the Bodhisattva of Compassion in Buddhism to Quan Yin in China. Gods evolve as human evolve, you know. But as I describe in this talk, she is not external but your own heart. But this is not logical and neither is compassion.
In Zen, in the Heart Sutra (read it and listen to the chant), Quan Yin arouses the mind that does not rest on form. What does that mean? When you mind does not rest or is invested in form or thought, it is free to create. It becomes an integrating mind that connects dots creatively, not investing in any dots you see. Like Sherlock, this mind just connects dots by withholding judgment. Don’t formulate the picture until all the dots are connected, all the clues are included. Don’t prematurely shoot off your gun.
The Heart Sutra, a Zen chant that is ritually chanted in Zen monasteries (But I’m not a Zen Buddhist) is spiritual irony. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form it says. That’s not logical, but the sutra is a metaphor that invites you to make the mad leap of Jake Sully in Avatar on the Last Shadow or the mad leap of Zorba the Greek, my two favorite movie metaphors.
The Heart Sutra of Zen is a Koan that cannot be solved by the intellect. The Englishman in Zorba could not solve or understand the Koan of Zorba. All he could do in the end when his best intentions crashed around him was…dance.
So dance we must on the ashes of our destruction, on the funeral pyre of our own death. Be the Grateful Dead. It’s all around us metaphorically, folks. Dance on death…That’s Halloween. Dance on sorrow. That’s compassion.
This is a discussion on compassion and what it means. We think it means feeling the pain of others but I think it’s deeper than that. Compassion drives selfless service, a compulsion, if you will, to help remove the pain and suffering of others. Compassion takes many forms, as many forms as there are humans. Compassion is life itself. Compassion restores unity. The Cross of Jesus is a metaphor for Compassion. Compassion wants to heal the wound that won’t heal. Compassion knows that there is no end to suffering. Compassion knows that there is no end to suffering beings, yet compassion cannot help but serve the healing, but do what it can to elevate the pain of life.
Life is Suffering, says the Buddha, even though he is condemned for being pessimistic. Life is death, but death is life. If we look closely—the horror, the horror—life lives on the death of life. We all end up food for the worms. So how do we play in this game where death conquers all? Is is possible to not participate in the suffering of life? We cannot avoid relationship because life is relationship. So how do we play in this lose/lose game. That is the question.
Buddha also says suffering is caused by separation, the divines of the One life into two, which our mind does. I experience this and that, good and bad, is a divisions of the observer from the observed. Compassion unites the two. In compassion the observer IS the observe. That is the end of suffering says the Buddha and anyone who has known compassion. Compassion turn from avoiding pain to embracing pain as oneself. I don’t fell the others pain as a separate being; I am the others pain. This compassion is express in infinite way, but it is always the same.