Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Dalai Lama is Coming to Town!

"True compassion is not just an emotional response,
but a firm commitment founded on reason."

The Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is going to be in Seattle this month! He will be leading an event titled Seeds of Compassion: www.seedsofcompassion.org.

I find that the Dalai Lama's message is so important for families around the world raising children in more than one language and culture, primarily because we have such valuable knowledge, resources and experiences to contribute! Here are examples of two primary ones (from a myriad of others):


(1) Those of us who have come to feel a deep love for more than one language and culture understand the powerful force of global compassion. We cannot help but recognize that "the others" are also us; that cultural and linguistic divisions are artificial definitions created in our minds. The question is whether we continue to strive to maintain this appreciation for the differences in the world or slowly allow ourselves to resent anything that alters our status quo.


(2) Our children are truly the ambassadors of generations to come. What they learn from us today as we raise them will be their foundation for global compassion. Do we imbue our children with a love for the world? Do we honestly instill in them an appreciation for humanity no matter what a person's language, culture, skin color or standard of living is? We need to ask ourselves this question honestly and decide if we are helping to foster compassion in our children or further widening the divide. It isn't about what we say to them, it comes from our children witnessing how we treat others and the things we say about others.


Ultimately, compassion is about letting go of fears - fears of "the others" because they do things differently: they speak a different language, they act differently, they don't smile back when we smile, they dress strangely... even those who have done something mean to us. The moment we label others, we instantaneously create a divide between them and us. As many wise humans have said: the moment we label something as good, then something else receives a label as bad (vs not labeling something as either).


The fact that we create a label is not really the issue (creating a label is our natural human response to want to understand and define a person and situation). The issue is about how we ultimately react to the label we have created. Will we treat that person worse because they wear their hair differently? Will we gossip about them behind their back, saying how strange they are and how much we don't like them? Or will we recognize that yes, we have indeed created a label but that actually we aren't really sure of anything about that other person and even if we did, we should refrain from talking about them behind their back?


Is it possible to have compassion even for those who do things which we find offensive? Yes! It doesn't mean we condone what they do and it doesn't mean that we don't speak up and say that what they are doing is reprehensible to us. Having compassion for others is about understanding that they are doing the best they can in their current predicament and state of mind (yet we do so without feeling a sense of superiority and arrogance).


As the Dalai Lama says: we ALL want peace in our lives, we ALL want to be compassionate beings. Even those who are acting cruelly ultimately want to be compassionate and loving. For whatever reason, they are not able to find that way just yet. But if we can find compassion in our own hearts, then we can show them what it means to be compassionate no matter the circumstances and will be there when they reach out their hand in need. However, if we do so with a "better than thou" attitude, then we should actually be questioning our own motivations and our own relationship with compassion first before attempting to be an example for others.


I'm not sure whether I'll be able to see the Dalai Lama or not when he is in Seattle. If I can't, I will still revel in the joy that he will be nearby for 5 days.


Check out www.seedsofcompassion.org for more information about the Dalai Lama's time in Seattle.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

You're right--raising children with more than one language or culture does give us a different perspective on the Dalai Lama's messages! It does seem to resonate more.