In a recent version of the Buddhist Geeks podcast Rick Hanson said that recent academic research is showing that in the Pali Canon there were teachings indicating that compassion is enough to progress all the way on the Buddhist path. He further states that this foreshadows the Mahayana developments and if this has been emphasised within the early schools it would have negated the need for Mahayana at all.
Does that ring any bells with anyone? Has anyone heard anything of this research or more broadly has anyone got any references where the Buddha really emphasises compassion and indicates that compassion alone is enough.
Note: if anyone is interested Rick Hanson says this in the last 10 minutes of the podcast.
It's at about time 29:55 through 30:48 in the podcast. Rick Hanson starts by saying (I paraphrase) that:
- The Buddha talked about the three poisons: ignorance, anger, greed
- Anger and greed map to the brain's two 'red-zone' behaviours, i.e. the 'aversion' and 'approaching' systems of the brain.
Rick goes on to say that the brain has a third need or drive i.e. "heart-ache" for which the antidote is "love", and,
recent scholarship has shown that for him [the Buddha] love is a fully-sufficient path to complete awakening, and scholarship today has shown that maybe if there was a better understanding at the time that that's what he taught, after he died, there might not have been a need for the Mahayana revision if you will in terms of bringing more heart back into Dhamma practice."
He goes on to say that there's a social brain, that love and social skills are the primary evolutionary driver of the brain, etc., that we need to honour heart-ache and pay attention to the attachment system. He thinks of "heartache" as a "fourth poison".