What is Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism?
What is Compassion? In the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle of Buddhism, we speak of the Mindset of Awakening. In the tradition of the Mahayana, compassion has a technical meaning. Genuine compassion means wishing all beings to be free of suffering. We all suffer, and because we know that experience, we can naturally wish that other beings find freedom from suffering.
The Buddhist tradition stresses the need to understand the causes of suffering. If we want to remove suffering, we must first learn what causes it. We are constantly experiencing the causes of suffering. Much of our suffering comes about because we feel a sense of aversion, dislike, or discomfort in our own experience. The very root cause of suffering is an uneasy, or uncomfortable mind.
In order to sincerely wish happiness for ourselves and others, we first take time to understand what is going on in our experience. If we don’t see our own minds clearly we can’t eliminate suffering for ourselves and others. We must learn what happiness and suffering mean before we can benefit either ourselves or others.