About Shang Rinpoche
Rinpoche’s spiritual pursuit began at a very young age and has spanned many years, in which he received lineages of all four major Vajrayana Buddhist schools—Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug—from numerous lineage holders and great yogis of our time in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche has acquired all the necessary empowerments, transmissions, and teachings to become a fully qualified Vajrayana master. Furthermore, Rinpoche is a recognized tulku (reincarnate lama), authenticated by eminent lineage holders and distinguished masters of our time.
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On Benevolence and Compassion
Confucius once said to his students: “Only a truly virtuous person can impartially love or loathe others.” What Confucius really meant is that whether attending to public or private affairs, a true altruist considers the overall situation, instead of their own selfish needs. Guided by the principle of benevolence, they want nothing but to benefit others. Malice or greedy desires will never enter such person’s mind.
Ordinary people are often self-centred. When a conflict of interest occurs, most people think first of how to protect or defend themselves, entirely occupied with their own selves, rarely taking others’ situation or feelings into consideration and they hold similar views on just about everything else. They judge other people based on their own emotions or intuition, without realizing that by doing so, they might harm the innocent or spoil others’ reputation.
With regard to this particular point, Confucius also said: “The virtuous will preserve all from wickedness.” This means, if a person understands the importance of practicing benevolence, they will not act in a way that could hurt themselves, much less cause any harm to others.
The concept of compassion in Buddhism is akin to that of benevolence in Confucianism. One should always be considerate of others. Don’t be like the greedy kingfishers, who only think of hunting their prey and burden themselves with fish that are much too big to catch or swallow. Yet, they are just following their hunting instincts. Similarly, if human beings blindly pursue what we need without any consideration for people around us, we will exhibit no altruistic qualities and lack the mind of compassion.
A person cannot be like an octopus who, in order to lay eggs, will find a hidden place away from all danger, to protect themselves and their offspring. They are so single-mindedly absorbed with self-defense that they neglect to take in any nutrients. As a result, their eggs are unhealthy and few in number. What’s worse, when a predator swims by, it’ll easily gobble them up. This is the consequence of attending only to selfish needs, which lack in both wisdom and compassion. Buddhism encourages neither pursuing perfection nor pessimistically giving up one’s life. Instead, everything should follow the Middle Way. A Chinese proverb says: “If the water is too clean, the fish will not be able to survive in it.” Being overly positive or overly negative does not lead to a happy life.
In fact, we need only to learn how to cultivate a mind that is as open as a thousand deep pools without any contamination. Towards all sentient beings, we should replace blame with gratitude, harm and enmity with love and forgiveness. Believe that people around us are all predestined to help us in some way, and because of this, we should repay them with loving kindness. We need to bear in mind that only by loving the flawed self, can we truly practice compassion. It is in fact rather selfish to demand perfection in everything. By unceasingly examining ourselves and reflecting on our own flaws, we are in fact treating others with compassion and benevolence. Rather than wearing a mask of grumbling indifference in our interactions with others, why not put down our arms, let down our guard and give rise to sincerity, genuineness, loving kindness, empathy and gratitude towards all people. Only when genuine love arises, will you see compassion’s form, just like a loving mother dotes on her only child.
This is the view From Shang Longrik Gyatso.