Today is the birthday of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He writes and speaks frequently on the subjects of universal responsibility, religious harmony and compassion.
In this excerpt, he talks about the need for the development of compassion.
“[I]t is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.
“Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home, If we are to protect this home of ours, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.
“If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally feel self- worth and confidence, and there is no need to be fearful of others.
“I believe that at every level of society – familial, tribal, national and international – the key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities.
“I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness. It is the practice of compassion.”
Whether we are Christians, Buddhists or members of any other faith, the practice of compassion is one in which we can all engage and one from which we can all benefit. It is not always easy to “treat whoever I meet as an old friend,” but think of the difference it could make.
P.S. Today is also my daughter’s birthday, so Happy Birthday, Elena.