A Former Buddhist on Compassion and Empathy

Some interesting insight from a 4chan anon who used to be a Buddhist on the subject matter of compassion:

I used to be a Buddhist from my early teens 12-13 through to my mid-late 20’s. I wasn’t the greatest but I was sincere. I would meditate for hours everyday on universal compassion. I still quite like Buddhism but I’m not one anymore for various reasons.

The conceit that we are all devoid of empathy is a comforting one for you I expect. But I am far from devoid of these fine capacities, the ability to recognize in another a part of ourselves or to understand another’s existence and suffering is almost another sense. A man without it is no whole man and in all likelihood a monster. Most of us here I expect have a mixture of honest hatred for the betrayers and enemies of our people along with the sickness we are forced to look at everyday and love of our people. This doesn’t rule out caring about others, necessarily. It just draws a distinction between our own family and someone else’s.

turn the other cheekBut compassion and empathy make bad decisions by themselves. Allowed to be our master they become grotesque parodies of an otherwise healthy and decent awareness.

Take a look at the self hating whites. They are crucified on the cross of empathy and willingly allow nonwhites to cynically exploit their good intentions for their own benefit. This is easily demonstrated when you realize that calling us ‘evil’ and accusing us of every crime only works on us because we are actually quite nice and allow empathy and compassion to inform our actions. If we are the monsters they claim (and that we have been taught to believe) then accusing us of ‘evil’ would be meaningless. Why would we care?

Compassion and empathy are fine, decent qualities. But they have become obscenely distorted because the hard external limiting factors that acted as a counter to these drives have been largely removed. We live soft lives in which violence and hardship are seen as an aberration rather than a normal part of life. Under such stagnant conditions our inner drives have run amok in us. We have forgotten that compassion and empathy are good servants but poor masters. They make bad decisions by themselves.

A people that permit themselves to be demographically replaced because its ‘mean’ to resist is insane and will not survive.
A people that permit the mass rape of their children and make excuses for it because its ‘mean’ is insane and will not survive.
A people that must say #notall when they are attacked and murdered yet again is insane and will not survive.

Stern reality and its ruthless Darwinian rules must be the foundation of any world view, anything else is insanity. This doesn’t exclude compassion and empathy, it simply puts them into perspective so that they can function as healthy, decent drives once more. Instead of the sick, masochistic parody they have become, that is nothing but a weapon others use to emotionally and morally blackmail us with.

I rather like the above essay because it dared to touch and explore the sacred cow known as “Kindness” in our contemporary society.  To further explore the idea presented there, it’s helpful to also look at the concept known as “Anger”, as “Kindness” and “Anger” are similarly pigeonholed in black and white categories by contemporary society.

The wrong tool has been used.

“Anger” is often simply labeled as a bad emotion to have in society, with people being encouraged to never be angry.  In my experience, however, anger is more like one tool out of many in the toolbox of life.  One can imagine anger as a powerful tool like an electric saw or even a gun for self defense; one should not use it recklessly, may not use it often, and one certainly should not point it at oneself or at one’s loved ones.  Nonetheless, it’s a tool with a legitimate purpose, and if you don’t have it when you need it, you’re in trouble.

“Kindness” is similarly labeled as a universally good emotion/trait to have, and people in our society are encouraged to always be kind.  I’m sure everyone reading this have come across at least a few generic feel-good sayings along the lines of “in a world where you can be anything, be kind” and such online.  However, similar to anger, kindness itself is also just a tool in the toolbox of life.  There are times and places where kindness is appropriate to use, but it is not a panacea that one use to deal with everything that one comes across in life.

The essay above uses racial issues as examples and goes off into tangents along those lines at times.  If one wants to just focus on the issue of Compassion/Kindness, a good starting point is the thought exercise of looking at Compassion/Kindness as a tool in the toolbox of one’s own life.  Mull on this idea – when would the tool known as Compassion be appropriate?  When would it not be?  If a person is compassionate all the time, even at times when it’s not appropriate, what sort of trouble would they encounter?

To go a step further, one can also look at Compassion and Anger together, both as tools inside the same toolbox.  How would these two tools work holistically together in your own life?  Imagine how a person who is always kind, but never gets angry is like – how do they defend themselves?  How about the opposite, a person who’s always angry and never kind – how would it be like to be their family? 

Most people can quickly realize that the black & white views of “always be kind” or “never be angry” that gets propagated in society are not quite right.  Compassion is not some kind of ultimate virtue to always strive for, and anger is not some kind of sin to always avoid.  They are just tools, each having specific scenarios where their use is warranted.  Having a balance between kindness and anger, and more importantly, an understanding of the appropriate circumstances to use these tools, would be the truly wise thing to do.


Original screencap:

compassion and empathy



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