She Who Hears the Cries of the World

She Who Hears the Cries of the World by Christina Feldman ~ a year ago

Seems freshly relevant. May all beings be happy, peaceful, ultimately freed from suffering.


Hi ERose

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and have only just got 'round to it! Thanks for posting what I mostly found to be a beautiful, useful article. I’ve much respect for it.

It was an interesting experience for me to read it as I found myself noticing the unstated views/assumptions that were underpinning the authors words about compassion.

Clearly she is, considering the references she makes throughout and the central role of Kuan Yin in the paper, coming from a view that accepts the Mahayana teachings on the Bodhisattva. So that’s one assumption that is clear though not overly explicit.

The other is not clear unless one is reading this with eyes that do see the world in a different way to the way in which this author seems to… Lately I keep coming back to how our views condition the direction and depth of our practise. And in some of this author’s statements, I couldn’t help seeing this in play.

For instance:

we will find that compassion is not a state. It is a way of engaging with the fragile and unpredictable world.

I disagree in that I think it is both a state of mind that can be experienced (quite powerfully) as well as an attitude with which to engage.

Describing one of the various depictions of Kuan Yin:

At other times she is portrayed with a thousand arms and hands, each with an open eye in its center, depicting her constant awareness of anguish and her all-embracing responsiveness.

I consider the symbolism of the eye in the centre to be representative of an understanding of the Dhamma in very deep and broad ways. My notion of compassion is that it is born of understanding. An understanding which does not just connect with pain, but also with pleasure. It sees the big picture very fully.

We may make heroic efforts in our lives to shield ourselves from the anguish that can surround us and live within us, but in truth a life of avoidance and defense is one of anxiety and painful separation.

I agree.

Yet I feel that this is only one aspect of the Practise life that Buddhism may offer us.

Because this is where some of us are…we cannot see that beyond this there exists another way of approaching life that may - on the outside - look like we’re negatively disconnecting.

Yet when we move beyond such states to experience a heart free - or at least freer - of anxiety; then we can see that it is infact possible to disconnect positively and in a manner that has the potential to create huge peace, wisdom and compassion. I see this author as writing from where she’s at. Which is brilliant and I have much respect for this.

But we are all different and must take what others say and see if this rings true for us. And for me, it is only a part of the story of Buddhism.

True compassion is not forged at a distance from pain but in its fires.

I completely disagree. All forms of true love come to life within the coolness of peace and/or pleasurable mind states. To state otherwise is to demonstrate a lack of experience with life as a Practising Buddhist.

I would debate with myself whether I was just perpetuating the culture of begging by responding to the child’s pleas. It took me a long time to understand that, as much as the coins may have been appreciated, they were secondary to the fact that I rarely connected to the child.

I know what it is to protect myself, to suffer from anxiety, to see protection in negative disonnection.

So I can understand that at some times in our Practise lives, the growth of the ability to feel, to “connect”, can seem all encompassing in its importance.

But the intimacy she talks about should not be restricted to intimacy with pain or with others. She writes about digging deep but what does that mean in practise? To me it means an intimacy and connection with our own minds. And to do this we need to recognise that there is such a thing as a positive disconnection - meditation and as deep as we can go. To me, it rings true that this is the source of peace and wisdom and compassion.

A person without anger may be a person who has not been deeply touched by harmful acts that scar the lives of too many people. [my emphasis]

I disagree quite wholeheartedly and only find agreement in the use of the phrase, “may be” (which I have highlighted above).

My disagreement comes from my own assumptions and views about what this Path is and where it may go and how this pulls me in a particular direction, to grow and to put my effort into certain places…

I think, because these are disagreements of “basis” of “foundation” - to do with assumptions, premises, views… I would say there are some things in this article that I fundamentally disagree with. I suggest the outcomes she is hoping for and encouraging can best be achieved with a different basis, a basis that can actually promote particular mental strategies and ways of being that encompass a Buddhist Practise that is much, much more than what she has described.

Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful article with some wonderful ideas and intentions.

Thanks for sharing this for us to reflect and

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! :slight_smile:

My apologies if I come across as being overly “thinky” and “judgy” in my critique. It is meant with much love. :anjal:

1 Like

You do not, to me, but as we are a diverse community, well said imo; any view is imo just a tool or an exercise; one can pick it up, examine it from a variety of perspectives, maybe use it, eventually set it down…

I agree with a number of your disagreements lol and agreements. i almost did not post the link, but… it has some nice points. And, clearly, opportunity.

Very tired, but i hope to get to this. =D I especially like how you bring implicit assumptions in the language and statements to the forefront of discussion.

I agree, disconnecting does not seem to me to be inextricably negative; no more than engagement is inevitably positive!

Anyway, more later, perhaps.