Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

63. Is Non-attachment Compatible with Compassion?

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Elizabeth J. Harris [+-]
University of Birmingham
Elizabeth Harris is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow within the Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham, UK. Before this, she was an Associate Professor at Liverpool Hope University. She specializes in Buddhist Studies and inter-faith studies, and has published widely in both disciplines. Her publications include: What Buddhists Believe (Oneworld, 1998): Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, missionary and colonial experience in nineteenth century Sri Lanka (Routledge, 2006): Buddhism for a Violent World: A Christian Reflection (Epworth, 2010/now published by SCM).


Both non-attachment and compassion are important qualities in Buddhism; but, to the outsider, they can seem to pull in opposite directions. “Non-attachment” seems to point toward indifference to the world or withdrawal from life. Compassion, on the other hand, seems to speak of active engagement with the sufferings and pain of humanity. In the Buddhist world view, however, the two are utterly compatible with each other. Not only this, both are essential on the Buddhist path toward awakening/enlightenment.

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Harris, Elizabeth. 63. Is Non-attachment Compatible with Compassion?. Buddhism in Five Minutes. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 318-320 Oct 2021. ISBN 9781800500907. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40805. Date accessed: 22 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40805. Oct 2021

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