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This morning I read a short message by the Dalai Lama entitled The Medicine of Altruism. I think perhaps this brief piece gets to the heart of who we are as progressives, Democrats, or whatever labels tend to describe our involvement in the political process. And that heart is compassion.
Some excerpts ...
In Tibet we say that many illness can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and need for them lies at the very core of our being. Unfortunately, love and compassion have been omitted from too many spheres of social interaction for too long ... In my view point, the practice of compassion is .. the most effective way to pursue the best interest of others as well as our own. The more we - as a nation, a group or as individuals - depend upon others, the more it is in our own best interests to ensure their well-being.I think that the Dalai Lama's message here is that when we involve ourselves in the political process for the purpose of making our world a better place for all of us, the most important part of this work is the work we must do within, the opening of the heart. It is not enough, as he says, to just recognize the need for harmony among peoples; our ability to bring about real change is directly related to the degree to which our own hearts are open, the degree to which selfless compassion guides our actions, speech, and thoughts.
Practicing altruism is the real source of compromise and cooperation; merely recognizing our need for harmony is not enough. A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir - a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. This .. gives rise to .. forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity. The compassionate mind is .. capable of transforming bad situations into beneficial ones.
Whether a conflict lies in the field of politics, business or religion, an altruistic approach is frequently the sole means of resolving it ... both sides should recall the basic human nature that unites them.
... despite the rapid advances made by civilization in this century, the most immediate cause of our present dilemma is our undue emphasis on material development alone. We have become so engrossed in its pursuit that, without even knowing it, we have neglected to foster the most basic human needs of love, kindness, cooperation and caring. If we do not know someone or find another reason for not feeling connected with a particular individual or group, we simply ignore them. But the development of human society is based entirely on people helping each other.
To me, it is clear: a genuine sense of responsibility can result only if we develop compassion.
Whatever your spiritual path or practice, ultimately it is not something you do for yourself, but for all of us.
Enjoy your Sunday,