Shortly after we were married we went to India and spent our honeymoon in ashrams and monasteries, and then in McCleod Ganj, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile in northern India along with other Tibetan refugees who have escaped Chinese rule in Tibet. Once there we went to the Office of Securities to request a meeting with the Dalai Lama.
The following day we were scheduled for an interview. While we were waiting Ed was standing on the veranda of the Dalai Lama’s palace, which is really a very large bungalow. “I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the vast Himalayan mountain range stretching in front of me. Then I saw a monk at the further end of the veranda trying to get my attention and beckoning me to come. I called for Deb, thinking we were being taken in to see the Dalai Lama, but as we approached the monk we realized that the beckoning monk was the Dalai Lama!”
In traditional Buddhist custom, we immediately began to prostrate but he took our hands and lifted us up, saying, “No, we are all equal here.”
For Deb this was a powerful reminder of our real oneness. For Ed he felt he was with the most compassionate being he had ever met. “The Dalai Lama made me feel as if I was the most important person in the world, as if nothing mattered more than the three of us being together. He radiated kindness and true presence.”
We both saw the meaning of real compassion in him, someone who was so ordinary, so simple, and his feelings for others so genuine. We spent about 45 minutes talking with him. Looking into his eyes, we could saw all of the suffering of the world as well as oceans of compassion. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is known as Chenrezig, which means the Embodiment of Compassion, but as he says himself, “My religion is kindness.”
Compassion is probably the most important quality any of us could live by as it allows us to live with sanity and love. It is the wish that all beings be free from suffering. And that includes ourselves.
Every time we see suffering, every time we feel suffering in either ourselves or another, every time we make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put ourselves down, every time we encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time we see someone else struggling, upset or irritated, we can transform it into acceptance, loving kindness and compassion, for that is also who we are. Just a few breaths of compassion will bring armfuls of understanding and caring into any situation. We can be compassionate because it is the foundation of who we are. It’s like a band-aide made in the heart.
Any of us are capable of losing our cool, losing connectedness to our hearts, losing perspective, getting caught up in hot emotions and causing harm. That is why compassion for ourselves is as important as compassion for others. Self-compassion enables us to transform fear, anger or resentment into forgiveness, acceptance and friendliness. By knowing our own pain and conflict, so we can more easily offer compassion to others.
Compassion is the willingness to witness and be present with whatever we see around us, not to turn away or pretend it’s not there: the hungry, the victims of abuse, the injustice, the senseless fighting, the homeless, the fear of the enemy. It is easy to feel hopeless, to want to walk away from it all, but compassion means we can’t be indifferent and uncaring. In recognizing our essential interconnectedness we can’t separate ourselves from anyone else. We are all here together and the least we can do is offer a helping hand.
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, with forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman and Winner of the 2010 Nautilus Gold Book Award. Deb is the author of the bestselling book, YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award. They are featured bloggers on Oprah.com/spirit, HuffingtonPost.com/Living, and Care2.com. They have 3 meditation CD’s: Metta — Loving Kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi – Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra – Inner Conscious Relaxation. See: www.EdandDebShapiro.com
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Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. John Lennon
Who said life would be like walking the yellow brick road, or that the human condition would be easy? And why is it so important to be here? What’s the big deal? It appears that the reason we’re not happy is because we long for things to be other than they are. We’re not satisfied being here. Not satisfied being with what is. We want things to be different, because we believe that if they were we would be happier. Therefore, we’re not truly present with our reality.
Love is painful because it creates the way for joy, for ecstasy, for bliss. Love is painful because it transforms you. Love is growth.
Love itself does not hurt. It is growth that hurts, the ego that stings.
Each transformation is painful because the old situation is being left behind for the new. Hence, fear arises.
The real problem is the mind. Fear lives in the mind and the mind wants you to hang on to a situation that is known and comfortable for you. The ego-mind resists change because it is afraid of losing control and feels insecure about the unpredictability of the unknown. Love means the death of the ego because love cannot be controlled, it can only be received, accepted. Love is fragile. One day it is there, the next day it may be gone, like the wind. We cannot grasp the wind in our fist. We can only enjoy and appreciate it while it is there.