Great compassion is like the sky, because it covers all living beings; great compassion is like the earth, because it produces all the teachings; great compassion makes it possible to see buddhanature, by first clarifying real knowledge for the sake of others. Great compassion makes it possible to pass through unyielding barriers, by plumbing the profound teachings more and more for the sake of others. Great compassion makes it possible to penetrate the transcendental, by seeking a life beyond for others. Great compassion can develop powerful application, by striving on this path for the sake of others. Great compassion can activate intrepidness, by keeping a vigorous will alive for the sake of others. Great compassion makes it possible to get beyond regression, because the mind is settled for the sake of others. Great compassion can produce broad learning, by studying everything for the sake of others. Great compassion can produce erudition, by deep deduction of the principles of things for the sake of others. Great compassion can produce blessings, by always coming up with expedients for others. Great compassion can annihilate afflictions, by sacrificing body, life, and goods for others. Great compassion can extirpate conceit, by acting benevolently for others. Great compassion enables detachment from fame and profit, by basing everything on truth for the sake of others. Great compassion enables entry into the realm of reality, because there is nowhere it does not go for the sake of others.
The virtues of great compassion are infinite; they could be expounded upon forever without exhausting them, but it boils down to this: Whoever has great compassion can extinguish all obstructions caused by past actions and can fulfill all virtues; no principle cannot be understood, no path cannot be practiced, no knowledge not attained, no virtue not developed. Just as when you want to win people’s hearts you first love their children, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas consider all living beings their children, so if you love all living beings equally, all the Buddhas will be moved to respond.
From The Undying Lamp of Zen: The Testament of Zen Master Torei, translated by Thomas Cleary, © 2010. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston. www.shambhala.com.
Sign up for Tricycle’s newsletters
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.