Wisdom and Compassion are considered two wings of the bird of awakening; inseparable, each an aspect of each other, each needing the other to be its truest self. Wisdom without compassion can be dry and indifferent; compassion without wisdom can be mushy, saccharine, maudlin.
We will continue alternating each time we meet, between a “wisdom” practice and a “compassion” practice – an artificial designation, for sure, because, as Frank Sinatra sang about love and marriage in my youth, “you can’t have one without the other.”
More accurately, we’ll be alternating between ways of seeing and being. One time we’ll do mindfulness practices, which focus on the four foundations of mindfulness. These practices have to do with seeing into the true nature of reality, exactly as it is, without interference.
Alternately, the “compassion” practices have to do with cultivating wholesome states. Actually generating states of mind which are more skillful, more apt to lead to happiness than suffering. Last year we focused on the “Brahma-Viharas” – the four divine abodes.This year, we’ll be talking about the Paramis – the ten perfections.
The Paramis, or ten perfections, are both precursors and byproducts of mindfulness. They are qualities which, when practiced, will improve your ability to be at ease in the present moment, just as it is; and also, when we do mindfulness meditation, these qualities are developed as a natural byproduct.
The Paramis are for the people who think they’re meditating, and nothing is happening. Practice for a while, and see if these qualities are not being developed, in the background, in spite of yourself.
But also, see how much easier it will be to practice, when you take the actions and steps which develop these mind states and attitudes.
We’ll be doing one each month. This month, the first, is Generosity. Stay tuned.