Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part V, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(73) How knowledge of Mahakarunasamapatti occurs

          “Katamam tathagatassa mahakarunasamapattiya nanam”

Tathagatassa – Buddha’s, mahakarunasamapattiya nanam – knowledge that falls within the ambit of the endowment of mahakarunasamapatti, katamam – is what?

Buddha’s knowledge or Wisdom which cannot be achieved by his disciples comprises six kinds. These are (1) Indriyaparopartyatta-nana – which knows the maturity or otherwise, i.e.’ the depth of the faculty or ‘sense of knowledge’, of the living beings; (2) Asayanusaya-nana – which knows the Anusayas or inclinations relating to the seat of mental disposition and kilesa that may arise of the living beings; (3) Yamakapatihariya-nana – which knows the faculty or power to create a double miracle, or rather, a miracle in pairs; (4) Mahakarunasamapatti-nana – knowledge or endowments of Great Compassion induced by ecstatic meditation; (5). Subbannuta-nana – attainment of omniscience: All Knowing Wisdom; (6) Anavarana-nana – faculty which dispels all obstructions or hindrances in the way of such knowledge. These knowledge being out of reach of or unconcerned with the Disciples, are also called Asadharana-nana i.e. knowledge which is peculiar or unrivalled. The question raised was: “What is Mahakarunasamappatti-nana from among the said six kinds?” The answer given in continuation was as mentioned below:

          “Bahukehi akarehi passantanam buddhanam
          bhagavantanam sattesu mahakaruna okkamati.”

The above Pali phrase conveys the meaning that great compassion for mortals or beings enters the hearts of the Enlightened Buddhas who see various conditions under different circumstances to which beings are subjected.

Feeling of Great Compassion occurs in the minds of Omniscient Buddhas seeing numerous kinds of sufferings prevailing among all beings. Most living beings do not perceive other beings’ miserable conditions. They might see only creatures or living beings who are in great distress and suffering. When fairly happy persons see others who are in the same boat, they think of them or imagine them as being happy as they are. Relating to people who are found to be happier than they are, they might look up on them as living in a state of extreme happiness without any misery, and consider them as not ‘deserving of compassion. This indicates dearth of compassionate feeling for not actually knowing the state of misery. The Buddhas, however, clearly perceived the various kinds of circumstances under which beings are suffering. Seeing the sentient beings in such miserable conditions, Great Compassion has entered the hearts of the Buddhas. How karuna occurs will be stated in amplification as follows: