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Chapter 36: Compassion

A Talk to the Assembly (Part Two)

Buddha said, “One may wish to reveal it with comparisons, but in the end there is no comparison that can explain this. Saying it’s broad and vast has already limited it - to say nothing of wanting to enter this broad and vast realm with the limited mind. Even if you managed thereby to enter, it would be like taking a ladle to ladle out the ocean: though the ladle is filled, how much could it hold? Nevertheless, the water in the ladle, before it went in there, was identical to the limitless water (of the ocean). Likewise, because your world is just this big, and you feel satisfied with it, this limitless world adapts to your capacity and fills it up. It’s not that the water of the great ocean is only this much.”
Therefore Buddha said, “It’s like the great ocean, not deferring whether mosquitoes or titans drink its water - all get their fill.”

It is the perennial problem: those who have known have come across an unbridgeable gap between their experience and their capacity to express it. What they have known is so vast that whatever they say is going to limit it, and to limit the unlimited is unforgivable. If they don’t say anything, then too they are saying something. They are saying that nothing can be said.

But the experience is so glorious, so nourishing, so fulfilling that to say that nothing can be said about it is to show your uncompassion towards those who are not so blessed with the experience. Unless you say something, howsoever limited, millions will remain unaware that their potential was for the whole sky, and they remained limited in a small world. They never opened their wings into the sky, because they never thought that beyond the cage there exists anything else.

To let people remain unaware of their capacity to fly, and the infinity of the sky, is certainly unkind. This is such a dilemma: if you say something it is not right, and if you don’t say something it is again not right. You have to say something, howsoever small. It may give someone a hint; perhaps it may not quench the thirst but it may provoke a search.

It may not quench the thirst but it may make you aware of it, that you are thirsty. Even to become aware of your thirst is a great beginning, because one cannot remain thirsty if one knows - one is going to seek and search in every possible way. And the ocean of life is not far away. We are in it, we are part of it.

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