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Torture and Compassion




Torture and compassion


Torture and exploitation are the basis of human nature. Parents torture their children, bosses torture their team members, privileged torture the poor, and the list is endless.


The Buddha before his enlightenment, tortured himself for six years before realizing the middle path. He practiced austerity. The Buddha in Mahāsaccakka Sutta (MN 36) mentions in detail the austerity practices he practiced for six years, before his enlightenment.


So why is one torturing for and is there any benefit?


Torturing self or others happens for any or all of the below reasons

  1. Delusion

  2. Ignorance

  3. Anger

  4. Frustration

  5. Jealousy

  6. Resentment

  7. Ego


The Buddha himself went through the above emotions before his enlightenment.


What does one get to torture self and others? One gets, ‘pleasure from the mind and body.’ Though due to ignorance, we conveniently fail to understand that this pleasure is not only short-lived but also has no benefits. In terms of lay terms no ROI (return on investment).

Post his enlightenment the Buddha says, now his code of conduct will be of the benefit of many. The Buddha mentions, “Bhikkhus, for the benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, and happiness of gods and men.(Bahujanahitāya bahujana sukhāya lokānukampāya atthāya hitāya sukhāya devamanussānaṃ; (ref- Vinaya Piṭaka, mahāvaggapāḷi, mahākhandhako (1) mārakathā (8))).


How can a layperson, convert this torture into compassion? Try using the following that will help generate compassion. To see the results, daily practice is important.


  1. Journaling - when one is torturing self and others. Be specific with dates, people, context, and situations. This will help one to be aware of the triggers.

  2. Practice kindness -One act of kindness daily. Even if you are not feeling to be kind, you are in your negative zone, still, one act of kindness must be your default mode. It is like brushing your teeth, no matter how you feel, you just brush your teeth.

  3. Join a group - Join a group where compassion and kindness are practiced.

  4. Build a community - If there is no group, start your own - in your office, in your locality. Building a community where like-minded people come is the key.


So are you ready to make a quantum leap from torturing yourself and others to generating compassion?


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