What we want to eliminate is grasping that is grounded upon falsification of the object, distortions that arise as afflictions grasp at the apparent substantial existence of an object. Some texts say that mental states such as compassion and faith are, by their very nature, virtuous and thus cannot at the same time be afflicted mental states. Yet there are other texts that refer to “afflicted compassion” or “afflicted faith.” For those of us who have not realized emptiness, when we generate strong devotion toward the Buddha perhaps there is within that faith, within that devotion, an element of grasping at the Buddha as substantially real. This makes it an instance of so-called “afflicted devotion.”
Still, it is important to distinguish grasping rooted in falsification and distortion from the attachment, focus, or holding that we associate with compassion. In our immediate experience, these two forms of grasping may seem the same, but in terms of the overall mental environment they are quite different. Compassion is fact-based, while distorted grasping is not.