Seeds of Compassion
Today the sun came out, a warm wind blew, and the Dalai Lama spoke to me. The Dalai Lama is in Seattle this week for the Seeds of Compassion conference and today was the large assembly, around 55,000 and tomorrow I see him with about 500 other educators.
Don and I went today and even though some of the thoughts floating around are not new or original, it was important to hear them collectively as a community. I wanted to share some of the most important pieces from my day.
First, there was a cultural procession and while I watched and thought about all the different cultures, ethnicity’s, religions present, I felt that sometimes it might be easier to live with compassion when you have a higher power to believe in because when your main source of compassion is humanity, you are often let down.
I was also thinking about how I’ve been feeling that my thoughts don’t always match my speech but that maybe it’s really all about intention and action and if my intention and my action is compassionate, then I’m on the right track. There has to be a balance of speaking only compassionately and speaking your mind when you feel you have to.
I thought so much about the power of inaction and how this is what bothers me the most. That we can talk and have great intention but really “what will you do with your compassion?” Compassion needs to be turned into action. In thinking about my work with kids, one of the speakers before the Dalai Lama stared to talk said, “Love grows brains. The brain grows with love, attention and compassion. Compassion is inside each and every one of us waiting to be discovered.”
When the Dalai Lama came out, everyone cheered. I couldn’t. It somehow felt disrespectful. I wanted to bow or become prayer pose but I just stood peacefully and waited to hear his guidance come forth.
He started with, “I am just one human being” and he had me.
The following are quotes from the Dalai Lama that I frantically wrote down while listening and reading his lips:
“Many of our problems are essentially our own problems, many problems are our own creation.”
“We need motivation and a mission.”
“Action: whenever we face a problem, we need non-violent dialog. DIALOG! Even though the beginning of this century has seen difficulty, much of this century is yet to come. I want it to be a century of dialog.”
“If you use force to solve one problem, you create more problems. The concept of war is out dated. We need to illiminate all nuclear weapons. But first we need inner disarmament. Can you buy it? No. A Dr’s injection? No. Compassion through education to cultivate it. Not promotional compassion. But through forgiveness and talking care of others. Look at where we are lacking in modern education.”
“Compassion is a biological fact. The feeling of taking care of others, of affection. Biologically we need others. In taking care from childhood, we nurture compassion. My original teacher of compassion was my mother, she was illiterate but warm hearted – the seed of my compassion. It is fortunate we come from our mother.”
“Want happiness not suffering. Human beings deserve our love and compassion. When you take care of others, it benefits you. Others are the ultimate source of our happiness. Take care of others well being. Care more about others well being and you will benefit – individual, family, community, nation, international.”
“Give your children affection. These children are the basis of our hope. To make a more compassionate generation. I do not have children” (he laughs and it sounds like mischief making and bells at the same time.)
Three questions given to the Dalai Lama:
1) How can we change the mindset of our leaders for peace instead of force?
“This is a very serious question (pause) and I DON’T KNOW. It is the entire societies look at ones self. And a better leader in the future.” “Leaders of different nations should gather together with their families for a holiday – no business. Then when things come up, they will know each other and have more compassion (how brilliant is this!)
2) How to remain hopeful in times of despair?
“When we see disaster in the media, we think the world is full of trouble. There is sadness, injustice (except for global warming and over population, which are very serious.) In 1996, I met with the Queen of England and I asked her “You’ve seen nearly the entire century, is the world becoming a better, the same or worse place?” and without hesitation she said, “a better place.” “I believe the world is becoming better. If individuals make the effort this century, it will be a better century. We must keep being optimistic in spite of difficulties.”
3) What is the best way to turn empathy into active compassion especially for children to develop and hone these skills?
“One factor: teachers. Compassion is caring through action. Teachers must show, help them with sense of concern and sense of responsibility. And should provide affection. Lessons about compassion and non-violence show the value of compassion and they themselves show compassion. Everyone is equal. Then introduce leadership. Women in leadership is important. An emphasis on happiness. Men need to take a greater role in showing compassion because women feel it. Females should take more important roles in leadership. The most important part is humanity.”
“We gathered, we come here as brothers and sisters to celebrate in joyfulness.”
We all had a commitment to compassion ceremony, where we wove a bracelet for our neighbor and tied it on their wrist. I cried and cried, committing myself to be more compassionate with the one I’m probably the least compassionate with, my partner in life. Why this is, I don’t know but we both agreed to be more kind and forgiving.
It was so joyful just to be in his presence.
Thank you Dalai Lama for your words and for your peaceful presence.
See you tomorrow…
p.s. Then we happened by a shop on our way home, Don had his Seeds of Compassion t-shirt on and this extremely pierced, tattooed, guy behind the counter leaned over to us and asked, “Did you see the Dalai Lama?” and we both burst out with our experience. He then said, “Wow, I just moved here from the mid-west and I LOVE Seattle, where people wear Dalai Lama t-shirts. You know I’ve practically been a practicing Taoist for the last ten years – so that’s rad. man!” (He couldn’t have been over 25!) We were both so in love with this kid, we wanted to take him home.
Spreading the seeds all over town…