Saturday, April 28, 2007

Daily Dharma: Compassion and Wisdom

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

To Be Perfect

According to Buddhism for a man to be perfect there are two qualities that he should develop equally: compassion on one side, and wisdom on the other. Here compassion represents love, charity, kindness, tolerance and such noble qualities on the emotional side, or qualities of the heart, while wisdom would stand for the intellectual side or the qualities of the mind. If one develops only the emotional neglecting the intellectual, one may become a good-hearted fool; while to develop only the intellectual side neglecting the emotional may turn one into a hardhearted intellect without feelings for others. Therefore, to be perfect one has to develop both equally. That is the aim of the Buddhist way of life: in it wisdom and compassion are inseparably linked together.

~ Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught

I'm not so much down with the idea of perfection -- my inner critic loves to team up with my inner perfectionist to make me feel worthless. But the main idea here is something that does make a lot of sense to me.

I have always tended to the intellectual side (my Apollo sub), what Rahula sees as the wisdom mind (I have often mistaken this for pure rationality). It's only been in the last few years that I have sought to cultivate the heart of compassion (my Sophia sub).

As a result of living in my rationality more than my heart, I was often out of balance. I looked for the logic of every situation, the reasonable solution, or the intellectual answer. I thought that all problems could be reasoned out, or that all decisions should be based in thinking. But that has not turned out for the best.

It took me years to learn to trust my heart, to allow my feelings a say in how I conduct my life. The rewards have been amazing -- especially in the last couple of months. The compassionate heart knows things that the mind cannot fathom.

I am still learning to temper my intellect with the tender heart of compassion and to provide boundaries for my wild heart through wisdom. But I know now that the balance is everything.

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