Dear venerable and respected friends,
As we know, some Buddhists in the West (and among these a relative of mine) have a very wrong view about karuṇā or (with somewhat probably bad translation) compassion. Indeed they understand like in the Latin word origin: to have passions (usually painful ones) with others to show support.
karuṇā has nothing to do with “passions” or emotions or feeling anxious because of the pain of the others. Clearly, in the Pali Canon, the concept is linked to the intention to remove suffering and stress from others included that we create in so many ways and general included towards ourselves. So I was taught during my stay in Burma.
Unfortunately, my relative (as many other Buddhists in particular in my country of origin, which is Catholic) seems to consider any other form of compassion, which does not include pain and pity for the object of compassion, as not compassionate enough.
This has particularly deleterious effects on some people who then develop anxiety, depression or expect that somebody’s compassion should be expressed through distress and total support of the suffering status (pity).
Albeit I know the commentary places where it is mentioned that karuṇā is the removal of harm and stress and not being absorbed or “moved” into the pain or the stress of others (practically karuṇā is more like a doctor approaching a patient) I would like some help to identify some suttas that can validate this point.
I have tried to show that all of the Buddha teaching focuses on not being involved with emotional statues of grasping, and of course, pity and co-emotion and depression are fetters. Still, unfortunately, my argument did not seem to be too convincing since I could not point to a sutta or suttas that show clearly the essence of karuṇā.
Thanks for any help you can provide.