Source/copyright: Wikimedia/John Hill
I was speaking with a high Lama some time back, and he commented, "There are people who come on the Mahayana path (the compassion path), but without going through the Hinayana/Theravadan path, their foundation is incomplete, and their base is shaky."
For all those for whom that was gobbledegook, don't worry. Ten years ago it would have been that way for me too. However, there is something very important about determined compassion as the entire path for ultimate happiness. Consider that we are all in a world of samsara, or suffering. There is dissatisfaction in some, if not most parts of our lives. As human beings, we are failing to address our most prevalent disease - that of dis-ease.
I had that too. I was severely dissatisfied with my life. Heck, I STILL get dissatisfied with my life. It comes with the package. What's the difference between me and everyone else, though? I know how to come out of it. And in spite of the fact that I've been teaching this ever since I figured it out by accident, new ways of seeing it are constantly evolving.
So Kaye, let's get to the point. Why do you call it the seed of universal power? Power to do what?
It has the power to relieve suffering and achieve peace, once and for all. Don't you think that is a universal power? There is nothing complicated about it. It has two components - determination and compassion. Why determination? Because we are stuck in our own paradigms, and it will likely be painful (at least at first) for us to escape it. If we do not have the determination to grasp the nettle, as it were, then escape is impossible.
Freedom is hidden in the one place where we will least expect to find it - in the midst of pain. Determination to find it is what founds the entire process.
Compassion is a different story. It is about empathy and kindness. And compassion is not just for others, but also for oneself. Having compassion for self means being appreciative and kind of what has been done. However, it has a quality of lightness about it. It is not allowed to devolve into selfishness. On the contrary, it is the act of selflessly placing others above oneself that allows us to transcend fears.
Compassion is about the greater story. From the Mahayana viewpoint, you could look at how much more other people are in need, and use that to inspire your actions. Because there is vision, there is inspired action, and determination. Because it is not for personal gain, the element of grasping selfishness is transcended.
Thus, determined compassion is really a very sneaky way of overcoming psychosis.
When watered with Wisdom, it becomes a very powerful vehicle for enlightenment, but that is a story for another time. Suffice it to say that misapplied determination can become mule-headedness. Compassion without insight becomes idiot compassion. So buyers beware!