March 17, 2023
Through the power of a deep prayer for global peace and the auspicious blessings of the awakened ones, Dewachen World Peace Sanctuary group had the fortunate opportunity to visit with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamshala this November.
What more could one hope for on a sacred Dharma journey to India and Nepal?
As you can imagine, the presence of His Holiness brings one to tears, thinking of the innumerable acts of compassion he has demonstrated for his people and for humanity at large.
It was extraordinarily special that we were able to ask him a question on behalf of Dewachen World Peace Sanctuary to which he graciously offered a teaching on Karuna.
Question: “His Holiness you have modeled the power of Bodhicitta on such a large scale, can you give us advice about cultivating unshakeable commitment to the path of awakening for ourselves and others.”
In his deeply gentle yet potent way, His Holiness replied “This is about Karuna.” He explained that Karuna (great compassion) is our very birthright. It has been with each of us since we were born. We all have mothers and we have all experienced this immense gesture of compassion from her. This compassion lies deep within each and every one of us. It is something we already came with. It is the heart of virtue at the very core of our being. Karuna gives us inner strength so that we no longer need to have fear or anger or jealousy. It allows us to be strong and open.
He went on to share that he believes modern education has made such a great error. We don’t talk about compassion, warm-heartedness, and inner development in the schools. So this Karuna which we were born with does not get developed. It becomes depleted and we forget our true nature. We learn to become more self-focused and accomplished in outer ways, and forget about our inner most goodness. His Holiness firmly believes this is one of the greatest errors of modern education.
He believes it is essential that we purposefully commit ourselves to develop and nurture Karuna. He says, “I am just one person of 8 billion people on this planet. We are living here together. We must recognize that we are all one. We are all interconnected. Karuna is the way to recognize that.”
He went on to bring us into roaring laughter by asking us to look at his face. “I look pretty young right? But I’m really quite old. The reason my face looks young is because I practice Karuna. If I was practicing anger it would look more like this (and he jokingly made a grim frowning face). So that’s another reason to practice Karuna it is beneficial for yourself as well.”
He really brought the message home when he said, “So many people are talking about global peace, global peace , global peace.” Global peace comes from inner peace. Inner peace comes from Karuna. Karuna is what gives us strength. Karuna gives us the warm heartedness to connect and unify.
For a project like Dewachen that is dedicated to world peace, this message was so timely and relevant. Global peace is an individual responsibility. The way we act, speak, and think on a daily basis sets the foundation for how we cultivate communities, families, organizations, and world initiatives. Re-centering the value of compassion at the heart of our lives and communities is essential to the rise of a just and thriving world. This talk with His Holiness really moved us deeply, and encouraged us to continue sharing Dharma teachings and inner education in the modern world to remind society of the fundamental values of basic human goodness.
Compassion in Buddhist terminology is understanding that all beings suffer and cultivating a deep wish for them not to suffer, and help them in any way we can. Therefore, nurturing the seed of compassion in our hearts lessens our own self absorption and increases our inherent birthright to be kind and warm-hearted towards others. Just as we have received from our mother, or loved ones, friends, or even strangers…. we too can expand this warmth to show others we really care. Not only does it generate a positive and happy mind for ourselves, it expands Karuna to benefit others.