February, 2003

updated 4/11/04

Great Thunks from E- Mail

February 6, 2003

Two symptoms of Awakening, in my humble o-pin-yoni:
1) A wave of TOTAL COMPASSION for sentient beings everywhere. (a very interesting quote about this below)
2) An overwhelming eagerness to help other sentient beings in any way possible to cross over.

Regarding 1): Here's an interesting quote from George Dreyfus's essay, "Is Compassion An Emotion?" from "Visions of Compassion - Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature," edited by Richard Davidson and Anne Harrington. It's worth the hard cover price just for the Dalai Lama's chapter -- this is one of a series of titles issuing from the Mind and Life Institute's annual conferences:

"There is in the Buddhist tradition a distinction between bodhisattvas who are beginners and those who are more advanced. Both types cultivate compassion, but only the former seem to exhibit the kind of psychological and somatic characteristics that we usually associate with emotions. Beginning bodhisattvas are often described as being overwhelmed by compassion. They can be deeply moved by compassion and sometimes cry... Such an emotion is positive in that it does not disturb the peace of the mind, but it does arouse the mind. When bodhisattvas progess, however, their compassion seems to change. It is less clearly emotion... Such a compassion is described as being equanimous. It is very strong, even stronger than that of beginning bodhisattvas, but it is more balanced and does not lead to the kind of emotional outbursts mentioned previously."


I believe that compassion can be cultivated through a facial 'gesture' [actually learned from a David Spero photograph] -- following Dr. Paul Ekman's (UCSF) http://www.paulekman.com research in how brain functions can be changed by holding a particular facial expression. The expression I'm investigating involves first smiling and then pulling up the muscle in the front of the chin. If I don't smile first, the corners of the mouth turn down, and I turn into Benito Mussolini. But if I smile first, I get a warm heart chakra chi rush as well as the radiance that the eye-crinkling smile produces.* Check it out. So it's just an experience, but some experiences are more 'equa-noumenous' than others!

-=-=-==-=- * Please see also under The O-BE-ATA Project's 'Some Quickies' for a further development of this into an exercise.