Idiot Compassion

posted in: General, Resources, Tantra | 1

Compassion is the most important on the path of Vajrayana (and possibly on the various other paths to complete freedom as well). And yet, there is compassion and there is compassion…

This is a rather delicate topic, so lets thread gently.

Waking up

In my opinion and indeed experience, normal everyday experiences cannot really be separated from the spiritual quest for freedom. Even in monasteries, there are personal relationships present and personal relationships come really a lot of room and opportunities for respect, understanding, and, unfortunately, abuse, deception, and lies.

Below we can see quotes that clearly express the need for discrimination, clarity, and common sense. If people had exercised their common sense, there would have been much fewer abuses in everyday relationships, monasteries, and Guru-disciple relationships these days all over our world.

When I reflect on these topics, slight sadness appears in my heart. I wish we would live in a world where non-violence, mutual respect, and acknowledgment of inherent human freedoms would be present everywhere, spontaneously. Unfortunately, we are not living in such a world (well, I’m not).
There are situations where gentleness, non-violence, and respect simply isn’t enough. Sometimes, expressing boundaries and firm NO! result in much much more benefit than meek “idiot compassion”. 

“…The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion.

This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say “no.” Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries.

The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say “enough.” Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart, we let people walk all over us.

It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries….”

– Pema Chödron
(from the book “The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times”)


I have seen this so many times in life and also in private psychotherapy practice! Generally speaking, most people who might consider themselves very spiritually advanced, can’t say no even to the abusive parent or manipulative partner. And many cannot stop giving off themselves to the point of physical and emotional burn-down. What kind of spirituality is that?

It takes a really advanced stage of spiritual development to creatively use abusive people and to bring their negativeness onto the path, otherwise, it is only a drama. It is definitely easier to be “spiritual” than to be a happy human. Spiritual in this context, of course, means the new age touchy-feely we-are-all-one BS.

If one cannot or does not want to take care of oneself (here on this Earth), no one will, unfortunately:

“…Compassion isn’t complete if it doesn’t include yourself.”
– The Buddha

Growing up

There is so much at stake when it comes to real and thorough spiritual development. And being all mushy and yielding is simply not enough. One has to take a firm stance.  And indeed, in these times, it is easier to attain spiritual states than live courageously and with self-compassion in life here on Earth.

My Spiritual Master articulates this even more directly:

“…The theory of non-violence has spoiled the mind and courage of people today. I am for fighting; fighting against the evil and crime everywhere, which should no longer be tolerated…

…I don’t want this non- violence. The people preach non-violence, but instead, they make water out of their blood. I want to wake up the sense of true humanity. With great difficulty, you get this human body. I want brave and courageous people. A man must have great courage…

I am against non-violence that makes a human being a coward. Fight for Truth! To face life, you must have great courage every day!

Everyone must be courageous, facing the difficulties of life with bravery! Cowardly people are like dead people!

I want a world of brave and courageous people…”
– Mahavatar Babaji

Even H.H. Dalai Lama shares His thoughts on this all-important topic:

“Non-violence means cooperation when it is possible and resistance when it is not.”


If one can’t exhibit a funny “mudra” clearly seen performed by Tantric Master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (seen below) in certain circumstances, maybe there is still more room for spiritual (and personal) development.



What do YOU think?


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