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Rational kindness
July 2nd, 2015
Rational kindness

Regularly, people question whether compassion and loving-kindness truly are important (in the grand scheme of "seeing things as they are", or of living without biases, prejudices, preferences...) or not so much.

There's first a mistake of opposing equanimity to compassion.
Compassion is not pity (they're "close enemy" in fact: confusing one for the other might switch wholesome intention into unwholesome). One arises naturally from seeing clearly, the other arises from attachments, righteousness, views on how the world 'should' be. Equanimity weakens pity, but strengthens compassion. The more you see the appropriateness of the cessation of dukkha (for each being, in each context) and do so without biases, prejudices, preferences, ignorance, the more equanimity supports compassion and loving-kindness.

The second mistake is to think that compassion and loving-kindness are somehow 'special' wishes, which are not subject to conventional thought, rational thought.
Buddhism is not flower power. One has to be awfully formatted by consumerism and capitalism to assume that rationality only supports naive selfish interest. Wise selfish interest supports collaboration, which implies exchanging the currency of collaboration: the care of others.
To think that rationality implies a naively narrow selfishness is like the error of assuming that Darwinism is the law of the strongest (dinosaurs?) while it really is the law of the fit (which implies that the environment, natural but also social, cannot be a 'separate' concern). Fitness allows for a lot more collaboration than competition in strength does, and collaboration allows for a legitimate existence of the weaker (somehow providing a service to the stronger, cf. e.g. symbiotic existences of the pilot fish and the shark: a common interest can exist, self-centredness isn't the ultimate determinant of success).

Below are some rational elements worth exploring.


by Betsy McCall:
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Does it pay to be nice? |