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Compassion the Dalai Lama Way

Compassion the Dalai Lama Way

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’s easy to feel hopeless, to want to walk away from it all, but compassion means we are not 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.

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: EdandDebShapiro.com

55 comments

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4:22PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Thanks.

2:47AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

Heather g. Tutu and the DL are both religious leaders who would like worldwide theocracy, they're also friends with the Pope, the head Imans, the head of the Anglicans, top Hindus, theirs is a religious class all of their own!

2:38AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

You are entitled to your own opinions but you are notentitled to your own facts.
Your opening quote. isims are Wasims, is neither intelligent or constructive and has no place in intellectual debate, your dismissive response ignores the historical context that you are trying so hard to ignore just because you have met a nice old man, theres thousands of nice old men in care homes who have committed terrible atrocities. It seems that people with no direction are the ones that seek leaders. 
It's true he is a 'Was' but he so badly wants to be an 'Is'...like a former pop star. And he has his fans and his old hits to sustain him, he lives in his stately home and gets royalties. ...you get the picture. He's doing well for himself. According to their teachings his present incarnation means his former incarnation was a good person, george w bush could say the same about himself. Substituting luck with fate, but the facts remain. Until 1959 when the Dalai lama left. Tibet was a slave society (not under reform) and the only people fighting against Chinese liberation were the nobility and the church.

2:22AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

You are very fortunate to have had a meeting with the Dalia Lama .... something you'll value for the rest of your lives.
I have loved it when, in the past, he got together with Bishop Desmond Tutu. They have become firm friends over the years and its been wonderful seeing and hearing them interact - both with a sense of humour and with much wisdom.

1:12AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

The DL may claim to be a simple monk, but he ain't is he? He's a king, an exiled king waiting to get his throne back, that's why he's waiting in India, lets just hope for the sake of the Tibetan people that this parasite and his theocracy does not get in. Perpetuating slavery alone during his reign should disqualify him. Why revere this grinning manipulative man. Are you so in love with the concept of being ruled and judged by a god-king. The man was a slave owner and master, that had no compassion for their people when they had the chance. Of course he's nice now!
 The other day everyone was complaining that the south Africans didn't want him down there because of China? Wrong. They didn't want him because he was a supporter of the former apartheid state and was opposed to majority rule along with maggie thatcher and general Pinochet. The people on Care2 really should read more and be aware of confidence tricksters and their techniques. Not every guru is a guru! And hasn't life taught you yet not to trust the smiling smug sanctimonious smirker. Royalty! I spit on them. I am a peasant and I am proud of it. My hands are rough and I have no need of a king. I can build a palace with my own hands, and I can make my own decisions and I have no need for slaves or wants.

5:03PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Will R. - btw - The Dalai Lama always says that he is just a simple monk - no big deal-
what others feel or say about you is not your concern-
he treated us as friends!

5:00PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Hey Will R. - as far as I am concerned-

ISIMS are WASIMS

so understand what you may feel about religion -
BUT
having met the Dalai Lama - spent personal time with him-
Just us & him-
All I can say is -
He is for real -
kind, caring & compassionate!
If I was to say there is one person that I met & respect most -
it is him!
Treasure yourself,
Ed

9:24AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Wonderful piece, as always.
And made me feel terrible for getting up after the first paragraph to go and mete out punishment on my daughter. We're all tired today for some reason, and short tempered. Compassion would have been kinder. Next time is my new chance.

1:34AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

What people forget is that until 1959, Tibet was a Slave society run by fundamentalist Buddhists. Every family had to give their temple one of their sons. A theocratic society with more than a hundred religious holidays a year, the people (of whom most were living in abject medieval like poverty conditions) were ruled by myth and superstition. The majority of the people were inherited debt slaves, still paying off their ancestors debts to the temples who owned most of the land. 
Slavery was outlawed in Tibet when? 1959. First public schools? 1960. First university? 1960. First hospital 1960. All after the Dalai Lama and the royal and religious elite had left. 
It is evident that I am not a royalist neither do I respect religious leaders, the pope included, so when I see a man revered as some kind of god-king I tend to be cynical, I try my best not to be brainwashed by ancient dogma and modern fads. So at the risk of being unfashionable...Am I only one that thinks the Dalai Lama is a little bit fishy?

6:29PM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

wow, what a wonderful experience to meet HH The Dalai Lama, and great encouragement here on compassion to the self and others.

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