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When I meditate on compassion, afterwards there is a post-meditative effect of making me kinder, but usually in a way that doesn't benefit me. It makes me want to rekindle friendships that were not desirable in fear that the others would suffer, or give others time and attention in ways that somewhat disadvantage me.

How can this be dealt with?

Is compassion even linked with being friends, or is it distinct; i.e. how can one be compassionate yet retain distance with others?

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One should associate with true friends and disassociate with false friends.

One should associate with those are:

(1) He is pleasant [loving]. piyo ca hoti

(2) He is agreeable. manāpo ca

(3) He is respectful. garu ca

(4) He is worthy of respect. bhāvanīyo ca

(5) He admonishes, patient when admonished. vattā ca vacana-k,khamo ca

(6) He is profound in conversation. gambhīrañ ca kathaṁ kattā hoti,

(7) He does not engage us in the impossible. no ca aṭṭhāne niyojeti.

(Piya) Mitta Sutta 2

(1) He gives what is difficult to give. duddadaṁ dadāti

(2) He does what is difficult to do. dukkaraṁ karoti

(3) He tolerates what is difficult to tolerate. dukkhamaṁ khamati

(4) His secrets he reveals. guyham assa āvi karoti

(5) Your secrets he keeps. guyham assa pariguhati

(6) In misfortune he forsakes you not. āpadāsu na jahati

(7) He does not look down (on you) when you have failed [are destitute]. khīṇena nâtimaññati

(Piya) Mitta Sutta 1

“Young houselord, there are these 4 who should be known as true-hearted friends:

(1) The helper (upakara)

should be known as a true-hearted friend.

(2) The one constant in joy and in sorrow (samana,sukha,dukkha)

should be known as a true-hearted friend.

(3) The good counsellor (atth’akkhayi)

should be known as a true-hearted friend.

(4) The caring (anukampaka)

should be known as a true-hearted friend.

(1) The helper, young houselord, should be known as a true-hearted friend for these four reasons:

(a) He guards you when you are heedless. pamattaṁ rakkhati

(b) He guards your property when you are heedless. pamattassa sāpateyyaṁ rakkhati

(c) He is a refuge to you when you are in fear [in danger]. bhītassa saraṇaṁ hoti

(d) When you are faced with tasks, he provides you with double the supplies you need. uppannesu kicca,karaṇīyesu tad di,guṇaṁ bhogaṁ anuppadeti

The helper, young houselord, should be known as a true-hearted friend for these four reasons.

(2) The one constant in joy and in sorrow [a friend through thick and thin] should be known as a true-hearted friend for these 4 reasons:

(a) He tells you his secrets. guyham assa ācikkhati

(b) He keeps your secrets. guyham assa parigūhati

(c) He does not abandon you in your troubles. āpadāsu na vijahati

(d) He would even give up his life for you. jīvitaṁ pi’ssa atthāya pariccattaṁ hoti

The one who is constant in joy and sorrow, young houselord, should be known as a true-hearted friend for these four reasons.

(3) The good counsellor [the one who shows benefits or the goal] should be known as a truehearted friend for these four reasons:92

(a) He restrains you from bad. pāpā nivāreti

(b) He exhorts you to do good. kalyāṇe niveseti

(c) He lets you hear what you have not heard before. assutaṁ sāveti

(d) He shows you the way to heaven. saggassa maggaṁ ācikkhati

The good counsellor, young houselord, should be known as a true-hearted friend for these four reasons.

(4) The caring should be known as a true-hearted friend for these four reasons:

(a) He does not delight in your misfortunes. abhaven’assa na nandati

(b) He delights in your good fortunes. bhavena’ssa nandati

(c) He prevents others from speaking ill of you. avaṇṇaṁ bhaṇamānaṁ nivāreti

(d) He commends others who speak well of you. vaṇṇaṁ bhaṇamānaṁ pasaṁsati

The one who is caring, young houselord, should be known as a true-hearted friend for these 4 reasons.”

The Blessed One said this.

Having said that, the Sugata [the well-farer], the Teacher, further said this:

The friend who is a helper, and the friend in weal and woe,

and the friend who gives good counsel, and the caring friend—

these four are (true) friends, thus the wise should know

and devotes himself with respect as a child would his parents

Sigal’ovada Sutta

At a spiritual level they should have these qualities:

(1) The accomplishment of faith (saddhā,sampadā),

(2) The accomplishment of moral virtue (sīla,sampadā),

(3) The accomplishment of charity (cāga,sampadā),

(4) The accomplishment of wisdom (paññā,sampadā)

Dīgha,janu Sutta

One should disassociate or distance oneself from those with the following qualities:

“Young householder, there are these four who should be known as enemies in the guise of friends:

(1) The downright taker,

young householder, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend.

(2) The mere talker,

young householder, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend.

(3) The sweet-talker, young householder, should be known as enemy in the guise of a friend.

(4) The destructive companion,

young householder, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend.

Young householder, these are the four who should be known as enemies in the guise of friends.

(1) The downright taker, young houselord, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend for these four reasons:

(a) He only takes (without ever giving). añña-d-atthu,haro hoti

(b) With little, he desires much. appena bahum icchati

(c) He does what needs doing only out of fear. bhayassa kiccaṁ karoti

(d) He serves with an ulterior motive. sevati attha,kāraṇā

The downright taker, young houselord, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend for these four reasons.

(2) The mere talker, young houselord, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend for these four reasons:

(a) He claims to having been hospitable in the past. atītena paṭisantharati

(b) He promises hospitality in the future. anāgatena paṭisantharati

(c) He worms his way with empty favours. niratthakena saṅgaṇhāti

(d) In present tasks, he feigns misfortune. paccuppannesu kiccesu vyasanaṁ dasseti

For these four reasons, young houselord, the mere talker should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend.

(3) The sweet talker, young houselord, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend for these four reasons:

(a) He approves of your doing wrong. pāpakaṁ pi’ssa anujānāti

(b) He approves of your doing right [or disapproves of it, depending on what profits him]. kalyāṇaṁ pi’ssa anujānāti

(c) He sings your praises to your face. sammukhāssa vaṇṇaṁ bhāsati

(d) He runs you down behind your back. param,mukhāssa avaṇṇaṁ bhāsati

For these four reasons, young houselord, the sweet talker should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend.

(4) The destructive companion, young houselord, should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend for these four reasons:

(a) He is your companion in taking strong drinks, distilled drinks, fermented drinks that which causes heedlessness.

(b) He is your companion in roaming (and loitering in) the streets at unseemly hours.

(c) He is your companion in frequenting fairs [shows].

(d) He is your companion in indulging in gambling, a basis for heedlessness.

For these four reasons, young houselord, the destructive companion should be known as an enemy in the guise of a friend.”

The Blessed One said this.

Having said that, the Sugata [the well-farer], the Teacher, further said this:

The friend who merely takes, and the friend who only talks,

and the one who sweet-talks, and the companion who brings destruction—

these four are not friends. Thus the wise should know:

they should be avoided from afar like a dangerous path.

Sigal’ovada Sutta

Associating with false friends will influence you to be more unskillful than what you are in a spiritual sense and fail in a worldly sense. Sometimes true friends may seem like a pain when they watch out for you but they are the ones who make you a better person by helping you prosper in a world sence and be more skilful in a spiritual sense.

Also, see:

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Compassion isn't the problem, and often requires a bit of courage as it kind of puts you in a place of vulnerability. Not everyone has the guts for that.

The other way around, someone feeling inclined to exploit others compassion is the actual problem, not only for themselves, but also for their surroundings. Everybody loses.

For a friendship to work out, compassion needs to be mutual. And if mutuality isn't possible, refraining from being hurtful is probably all one is obliged to do.

  • About the last part, i know theres a sutta somewhere for this. Can anyone chime in? I can't find it. – Erik Sep 18 at 18:25
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Lest they are willing to be trained at least semi-formally it is probably not going to be beneficial enough compared to prioritizing training.

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Compassion provides benefits to the recipient of that compassion. You cannot exclude yourself from the practice of immeasurable compassion. See AN7.68:

Two people understand the meaning and the teaching and practice accordingly: one practices to benefit themselves but not others, and one practices to benefit both themselves and others.

The person who practices to benefit themselves but not others is reprehensible in that respect.

The person who practices to benefit both themselves and others is praiseworthy in that respect.

This perspective is somewhat surprising to those who have been taught to benefit others over self

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Usually it is not so because real meditation brings insights. Maybe you should meditate more. Real meditation brings a transformation in consciousness. After meditation you can never be the same.

In my experience, it took me quote some time and effort of meditating to finally see that I was fooling myself all the time. What I called meditation was actually thinking. Thinking can never bring the same results as meditation.

In meditation, mind starts to dissolve and you start falling in trance. Meditation is very intense. You must be emotionally strong and intelectually accomplished before you can expect some real meditation. Accomplished, expert thinkers naturally start meditating and are drawn to the life of a meditator. IMHO, all real meditators used to be expert intellectuals. For example, Blaise Pascal became a meditator in after his phase in physics.

Compassion and friendship for all living entities and detachment from mundane life are qualities of an accomplished meditator. He becomes a being of compassion, a friend in the true sense of the term.

Meditation on compassion or Metta is nicely defined in the suttas. There are proper guidelines and qualifications for performing metta. You should read Karaniya Metta Sutta and Metta (Mettanisamsa) Sutta for full understanding of the process. I wish you best luck in your practice.

It makes me want to rekindle friendships that were not desirable in fear that the others would suffer, or give others time and attention in ways that somewhat disadvantage me.

It could be you're suffering from mild case of Christ complex.

"The term can also refer to a state of mind in which an individual believes that he or she is responsible for saving or assisting others..." -- Wikipedia, Messiah complex

Even though others are suffering, you're not responsible for their happiness. Rather that trying to save your friends, instruct them to meditate. They have their own life.

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