Always Compassionate And Never Angry

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When one loses compassion
at one’s so-called enemy,
one has become that person’s true enemy.

— Stonepeace | Get Books

Dalai Lama: In a Buddhist text called the Four Hundred Verses by Aryadeva, an Indian pandit, there is a verse which says that the Buddha sees the afflictive emotions as the faults, not the person who possesses them. It’s more or less the case that there’s no such thing as justified anger directed toward the person. There are no authentic grounds for being angry toward a person.

Yearley: Could one’s anger toward a quality one thought had to be eliminated lead one to destroy the quality if it might involve destroying the person? For example, as I saw the concentration camp guard in Nazi Germany whose furious hatred was leading him to kill a person, I also realized he was a good father and a person who deserved to live. However I understood that the only way his hatred could be destroyed was to destroy the person.

Dalai Lama: This is justified in the following case: You recognize this evil propensity, or vice; you know it must be dispelled because of the ensuing harm that it would bring about; and – this is an extremely important point — out of great compassion arising from the wish to avert the great harm, you see that you must dispel the vice. Recognizing that there is no way to dispel that vice other than through an act of violence, then you may take the life of the person who bears that vice, without ever losing compassion for that person, and while being willing to take that act yourself.

Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health
Edited by Daniel Goleman


  • Upon reading this entry, I recalled the ending of the Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men. One man took the life of the other man to “save” him from inevitable suffering (at the hands of his fellow-men in their efforts to bring about justice as they saw fit). Do you know the story? I realize it is not a situation that you can compare to Nazi atrocities, but I see similarities on a one to one basis. Could you give me your thoughts on this? Metta _()_

  • In the Buddhist perspective, mercy-killing of someone to ‘relieve’ that person of suffering should not be practised. It is not real mercy (but is effectively murder), even if the intention is to be merciful, because it assumes killing will interrupt or end the corresponding negative karma of the person’s upcoming suffering.

    If the karma is not exhausted, it will simply flow on to the next life. What skilful would be to prevent the person from being killed, or to prepare the person’s mind to be able to be accept the upcoming pain with calmness, without hatred.

    As long as the pain is not even there yet, it is hard to tell if the person will indeed be made to suffer for sure too.

    Mercy-killing is a very dangerous concept. When the weak-willed entertain this idea, they are likely to attempt suicide when down. Likewise, suicide does not solve the problem of suffering as the negative karmic conditions surrounding the suicidal now are unlikely to exhaust upon death, but carry on in the next life, in a possibly worse manner too, due to the immense negative karma created by killing.

  • correct me if i’m wrong.

    I find “Yearley” has wrong view. Anger cannot be destroyed externally. The camp guard should look into his mind. “Yearley” should look into himself too. It’s a contradiction. Killing is creating bad kamma no matter what. Aversion already aries when one want to destroy another being’s life.

    Furthermore, one cannot determine whatever happened at the concentration camp is what one sees. Kamma follows the person and we do not really understand kamma. Besides, one does not have the right to destroy another being’s life. Every being has the right to live on.

    I find another area very strange. The part on “Recognizing that there is no way to dispel that vice other than through an act of violence, then you may take the life of the person who bears that vice, without ever losing compassion for that person, and while being willing to take that act yourself.”. Is there any wrong interpretation by the editor?

  • Yearley did not say anger can be destroyed eternally. The premise is that there is a person, the not killing of whom will lead to the killing of many. Of course, such killing must be the absolute last resort, as we can see at


    We all hope killers-to-be will reflect in time, to not kill, but this is not always the case.

    Yes, killing creates bad karma, but if done to save many, it creates a lot of good karma too. Again, this requires, as the article says, genuine compassion and as little anger as possible, if any at all.

    As a thought experiment, will you not kill someone about to kill your family and friends? About the right of all to live, what about the right of many family and friends, versus a mass-murderer-to-be?

    For the last part, you would have to contact Daniel Goleman. If you read the link above, you will see what this is about.

  • I think “Yearley” has a thought of destroying aversion and killing unnecesary externally as “Yearley” probably didn’t understand truely at that point of time when he/she asked.

    Regarding the Sutra in that URL that’s mentioned by HHK. Only when one realises true emptiness and able to experience the pain of the great hells with compassion and loving-kindness then one is capable to conduct such act. The important part is without aversion. This is explained in the URL about the Boddhisattva.

    On the other hand, one should understand that compassion or loving-kindness will never co-exist with aversion. So “little anger” should never exist for this case. Furthermore, one would not have the thought of creating good kamma too at this state too.

    As for the thought experiment, one may try to look into the mind when one sees an unfair situation arises or when when sees someone whom one dislike coming towards. One can check what is arised in one’s mind. If compassion and loving-kindness arise then one could have achieve the skillful means.

    As for now, I’m unable to comment on what will my reaction be or thought be when i encounter the situation whether I’ll kill someone who’s about to kill my family and friends.

    For the last part, I’ve understood through the URL that HHK posted as explained above(2nd paragraph that I’ve written).

    As a sentient being, I know to eliminate or avoid such situation, the best is for one to practise compassion and loving-kindness continuously.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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