Dear friends, I am looking for references pertaining to the notion of the Four Stages of Compassion in the Mahayana traditions.

Thank you for your kind and generous help, may you all be well and safe.

If you ask what is ‘great compassion,’ it is unstinting loving kindness toward all sentient beings, when there are actually no sentient beings. That is called great compassion.

The Buddha (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in Ten Thousand Lines)

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In ~30 years of (western) Buddhism I haven't come across "four stages of compassion". However, there are:

  • the four Brahmaviharas and
  • five stages of cultivating compassion, introduced by Buddhaghosa in the Visuddhimagga and explained for example in Wildmind.

For "great compassion" maybe see Mahakaruna. The Indians tend to put a "maha" before a word to mark the term as informed by the experience of liberation.

  • "Maha" is used as a prefix which translates as "greater". Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 9:40

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