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Dumb question of the day: Might compassion sometimes encourage evil behavior?

zenguitarzenguitar Bad BuddhistNew England Veteran

Hi Sangha, please bear with me. My questions may sound clueless and annoying but I am really struggling with this. My (dumb) question of the day is in the title of this thread.

What I am asking is, if a person is very kind and compassionate to all people, including those who are obviously very bad, won't some of those bad guys play this kindness to their advantage, by feigning remorse in order to avoid consequences and to continue their evil behavior?

That is, if you assume that everyone is basically good at heart, and you act that way, you may very well be an admired and well-loved person. That's good! But you might also be taken off guard by a tricky person who is really rotten at the core. In that case, it might be better to be less compassionate and all-embracing, and a little less all-forgiving. No?

And yet being hard-headed and wary of others seems contrary to the spirit of Buddhism, and spirituality in general. Hmm...

Comments

  • you may very well be an admired and well-loved person. That's good!

    It is? Why not admire and love but not wear a doormat saying, 'please walk all over me'.

    Buddhism: 'What's in it for me?' . . . Nothing . . .

    Rowan1980Shoshin
  • RhodianRhodian Loser Veteran

    The Buddha even said himself to sometimes ignore people or put your begging bowls upside down in front of some people. Not so much for you to ignore them or hurt them, but for them to come to the realisation that what they are doing is wrong, and so they might become humble and such.

    At least this is what I have recalled.

    HamsakaJeffreypersonShoshin
  • Being compassionate does not mean being stupid.
    If you can see things more clearly, you won't be taken advantage of unwittingly very often.
    Look around at your world. You will see what is going on. You can figure out how to act.

    BuddhadragonzenguitarpersonShoshin
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    I once heard that the Christians sometimes apply a perfectly acceptable prayer: "Dear Lord, please give him/her a swift kick in the ass."

    zenguitarSarahT
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @zenguitar said:
    Won't some of those bad guys play this kindness to their advantage, by feigning remorse in order to avoid consequences and to continue their evil behavior?

    That is, if you assume that everyone is basically good at heart, and you act that way, you may very well be an admired and well-loved person. That's good! But you might also be taken off guard by a tricky person who is really rotten at the core.

    And yet being hard-headed and wary of others seems contrary to the spirit of Buddhism, and spirituality in general. Hmm...

    It's difficult to answer this question without answers sounding recycled from similar answers we have already given you to similar questions you have asked before.
    This cliché of the simpering doormat Buddhist is sooooo passé....

    First of all, there is no way anyone can avoid the consequences of their behaviour, and if they do continue their bad behaviour, the consequences will sooner or later blow out in their own faces. More to their own damage than to ours.

    Whether people are basically good at heart, I don't know, but everyone deserves a chance and can find the way to redeem themselves.
    Examples abound in history. Sometimes all it took to make a difference in their lives was crossing paths with a compassionate person.

    Be admired and well-loved? A Buddhist is not compassionate and ethical in order to be admired and loved. He's above those self-related concepts.

    Be taken off guard? Then what? Do you have to don an armour to avoid getting hurt? Open the umbrella before it rains? Be hard? Mistrusting?
    In that case I would be punishing myself more than I would be punishing the evil-doer.

    Rowan1980robotlobstermmo
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    Be taken off guard? Then what? Do you have to don an armour to avoid getting hurt? Open the umbrella before it rains? Be hard? Mistrusting? In that case I would be punishing myself more than I would be punishing the evil-doer.

    Thanks, I'm not so much concerned about me getting hurt. I'm more worried about other people that I have a duty to protect getting hurt. I think that's a valid concern.

  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran

    People that you have a "duty to protect"? I should I take that to mean that you are a police officer? Can't these people protect themselves?

    lobster
  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran

    I'm not trying to undermine your responsibility, if it involves children, the aged, or infirm, but as you've heard from others on this forum, being Buddhist does not protect us from bad luck, pain or suffering. But it gives us the tools for approaching and withstanding these inevitabilities.

    Buddhadragonzenguitar
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    If by people you have the duty to protect you mean children, they will learn things the easy way and the hard way like we ourselves did.
    I always tell my son "Be nice, but not too nice" (= be self-assured, not a simpering jerk) and children get it just right.
    My son has been bullied most of his first school year.
    A year later, the situation is totally reversed: somehow my son managed to get those bullies off his back.
    They even greet him amicably when we meet them on the street.
    I would give anything to spare my son from the afflictions of life but it doesn't work that way.
    SarahTzenguitar
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @Barra said:
    People that you have a "duty to protect"? I should I take that to mean that you are a police officer? Can't these people protect themselves?

    LOL, no, I mean my own family. :)

    Ok, thank you everyone, I promise, no more dumb questions...this year. :wink:

    And Happy New Year to all!

  • @‌zenguitar
    I didn't think it was a dumb question. We just have to be wary of those around us that may think of us as either prey or bait. Happy new year!

    zenguitarBunks
  • Rowan1980Rowan1980 Keeper of the Zoo Asheville, NC Veteran
    @zenguitar‌ -A book recommendation just came to me that you might find of benefit with regards to wise compassion. It's called "Living with an Open Heart: How to Cultivate Compassion in Everyday Life." It's written by Russell Kolts (a professor of psych and a clinical psychologist) and Ven. Thubten Chodron (a Tibetan Buddhist nun and the founder of Sravasti Abbey in Washington state.)

    I'm actually almost done with it myself, and it does a good job of discussing concerns like yours with regards to compassion. :)
    zenguitar
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Thanks @Rowan1980‌ , I will check that out. I am also reading No Mud No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh now and actually trying to absorb/practice it.

    Happy 2015 to those of you who are already there! :smile: Still 8 hours to go here...

    Rowan1980Hamsaka
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    2-and-a-quarter, here.... :)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @zenguitar said:
    Hi Sangha, please bear with me. My questions may sound clueless and annoying but I am really struggling with this. My (dumb) question of the day is in the title of this thread.

    What I am asking is, if a person is very kind and compassionate to all people, including those who are obviously very bad, won't some of those bad guys play this kindness to their advantage, by feigning remorse in order to avoid consequences and to continue their evil behavior?

    That is, if you assume that everyone is basically good at heart, and you act that way, you may very well be an admired and well-loved person. That's good! But you might also be taken off guard by a tricky person who is really rotten at the core. In that case, it might be better to be less compassionate and all-embracing, and a little less all-forgiving. No?

    And yet being hard-headed and wary of others seems contrary to the spirit of Buddhism, and spirituality in general. Hmm...

    @zenguitar compassion is compassion and the person who tries to trick you does so because they are suffering...Compassion is never lost on them... :)

    "HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL! "...almost 11 hours into 2015 already in Aotearoa (NZ)..

    Rowan1980SarahT
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Amen to that, dearest. (No wonder my English teacher hated the word 'Nice'. "Not for nothing, does it rhyme with Vice", she used to say....)

    SarahTRowan1980
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2015

    Ajahn Thanissaro describes compassion as "what goodwill feels when it encounters suffering: It wants the suffering to stop"; and it covers everything from the passive non-doing of harm to others to the active relieving of suffering. So in that sense, we're not limited to just loving and embracing someone who's causing us harm. In addition, compassion is something we also direct towards ourselves, which means we seek to reduce and relieve our own suffering as well as that of others.

    zenguitarlobsterSarahT
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