When Geshe Rabten was explaining the difference between boundless compassion and great compassion to a small group of students in a monastery in Switzerland, he gave the analogy of different ways of responding to a cow that has gotten bogged down in a sewage pit. A person who had cultivated boundless compassion would view the cow as if it were his dear friend, and he would try and free it with ropes and the assistance of other people helping out from the firm ground outside the pit. But a bodhisattva with great compassion, taking personal responsibility for the cow’s rescue, would do everything possible to free it, including jumping down into the pit.

When one of his students asked whether we should regard ourselves as being like the bodhisattva, Geshe Rabten said bluntly, “You’re the cow!”

From “Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment,” by B. Alan Wallace. Reprinted with permission.

Temple
Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

a photo of a Buddhist meditating
Explore timeless teachings through modern methods.

With Stephen Batchelor, Sharon Salzberg, Andrew Olendzki, and more

See Our Courses

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

This article is only for Subscribers!

Subscribe now to read this article and get immediate access to everything else.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.