Waking into Compassion: Understandings and Misunderstandings of Compassion in Modern Buddhism
Professor Steve Jenkins
April 7 - 9
Compassion is the heart of the Buddhist path, it is “buddhahood in the palm of your hand.” A deep understanding of compassion is seen to be a prerequisite for making progress in meditation and not going astray in our practice. What can compassion teach us about selflessness, emptiness, and Buddha-nature? Does meditation necessarily lead to compassion?
People will die for love or the lack of it, but American culture’s conception of love can only lead to heartbreak. This retreat examines the connection between passion and compassion, the traditional view of love, and the key to tolerating the horrors of cyclic existence without burnout. The contemporary “mindfulness revolution” has neglected meditation on compassion as an essential aspect of the Buddhist path, one that offers relief from fear and anxiety, creates inner peace and wholesome relationships, promotes health, and offers protection. Compassion is not about sacrificing your well-being for others; compassion blesses the compassionate. It is selfishness that sacrifices our well-being, personally, socially and even internationally.
The program will combine talks and dynamic dialogue to enrich our understanding of compassion, its connection to wisdom and meditation, and highlight issues related to social action, relationships, burnout, violence, etc. We will explore compassion through classic Buddhist teachings, from the stories of great practitioners’ lives to meditation manuals. The most important questions will be those that you bring.
So that our conversations about compassion don’t remain in the abstract, the program will include sessions of tonglen meditation, the Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice of offering kindness and compassion to all beings while taking on the burden of their hardships and suffering.
About the Teacher
Professor Steve Jenkins is a lifetime Buddhist practitioner, drawn into academia in pursuit of understanding compassion more deeply. He received his doctorate from Harvard in 1999 and is Professor of Religion at Humboldt State University. Much of his career has been in Asia, teaching and studying in India, Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Japan. His… more »