Random Acts of Kindness Week, which will be observed February 11-17, 2018, is an annual opportunity to unite through kindness. Formally recognized in 1995, this seven-day celebration demonstrates that kindness is contagious. It all starts with one act — one smile, one coffee for a stranger, one favor for a friend. It’s an opportunity for participants to leave the world better than they found it and inspire others to do the same. Since inception, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation estimates that millions of individuals, celebrities, businesses, schools, and partners have participated in these weeklong celebrations. Continue reading
Compassion is a mind wishing that sentient beings be free from suffering, and loving-kindness is a mind wishing they meet with happiness. Loving-kindness induces compassion, and compassion induces the special attitude. The special attitude here means that you not only mentally think how good it would be if sentient beings were free from suffering, but you voluntarily take responsibility for actually engaging in the work of delivering sentient beings to the state of liberation and helping them remove their suffering.
— H. H. the Dalai Lama
from The Stages of Meditation
Happiness is almost as important to human survival as food, clothing and shelter. Vital as it is, few of us truly understand how happiness works. Common misconceptions include the idea that we can successfully pursue happiness. In fact, people who highly value personal happiness generally display significantly more symptoms of depression than folks who don’t think about it much. And though happiness is half genetic, about 40 percent of what makes us happy involves our daily thoughts and deeds.
“Without love, human society is in a very difficult state; without love, in the future we will face tremendous problems. Love is the center of human life.”
– from Kindness, Clarity & Insight by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, published by Snow Lion Publications
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is an inspiration and an example of how a person can live their life in such a way as to be a genuine benefit to others. In a world filled to overflowing with superficiality and surmise, His Holiness is a role model for countless people across the globe. It seems the world is desperately hungry for something – someone – who is authentic, and who genuinely embodies the highest human ideal. In the age of disbelief, the Dalai Lama has become a profound example of what is possible for human beings to accomplish. In simple terms, we need a hero, and the Dalai Lama is that person. I once heard him say, “One more Buddhist in the world makes no difference; but one more kind person makes all the difference.” When he says, “My religion is kindness,” he wipes away the barriers between nations, creeds, ideologies and individuals and offers a simple self-evident truth that is beyond belief and disbelief. The highest wisdom is love and human kindness and there is no future without it.
In the month before his April visit to Oregon this year, he had been to Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, England, India and Maryland – all in a 30-day period. I think about that kind of tireless effort to raise the sum when I’m standing in line impatiently at the post office.
Tim Campbell, Amber Lotus Publishing
Lessons in Compassion
The crowd waiting to hear the Dalai Lama speak was fidgety. His Holiness was not scheduled to speak until 1:30 but ticket holders clustered before noon. Some brought sack lunches to eat while they waited. Some applied sunscreen as they tucked in for a lesson in patience. Some chatted with friends in the warm spring sunshine.
Since we had assigned seats, I didn’t feel compelled to wait in line before the doors opened. I had a handful of pamphlets that I wanted to distribute before my fellow Oregonians disappeared into the arena. As a healthcare advocate, I see every crowd as an opportunity to share my message. People graciously accepted my flyers and shared stories about friends and family that needed healthcare.
What I enjoyed most was the glint in the eyes of those in line. This was primarily a middle class crowd. They had the privilege to take the day off from work for a non-emergency situation. Normally, passing out flyers about a clinic that caters to the needs of the poor is met with lukewarm reception from those waiting in line to be entertained. This time, the crowd was smiling and receptive. We were all looking for wisdom, not distraction. We were all on the same page.
Inside the arena, the audience chatted warmly with each other. People stepped easily aside to help others to their seats. I have never seen so many hugs shared as greetings in a sports stadium before. This was a gathering of 11,000 truly content people.
When the Dalai Lama started speaking, the source for their bliss was clear. He stood humbly on the stage and gave a brief lesson in achieving world peace. It was direct and accessible. He spoke with humor and with patience. It was a lesson we were craving.
The message was fairly simple. In order to succeed as a species, we must nurture our children so that they can grow to be healthy decision makers. The Dalai Lama was adamant that this century belongs to the people who are currently under 30 years old. He reminded the crowd of the changes that occurred in the last century. He cautioned that the technology available today and in the next few decades can cause great joy or great sorrow. Our choices must be made with clear vision and active compassion.
The Dalai Lama gives a different presentation every time he speaks. The main message is the same: be kind to all.
In two days, it would be Mother’s Day. His Holiness focused on the innate compassion in women and the importance of being a loving mother. I bit my lip and sat back in my chair.
I had the privilege of being raised by a loving mother. She was the personification of compassion in my life. She worked in a school for children whose behaviors made them an inappropriate fit for foster care. She donated to charity even when our family’s income made us eligible for charity ourselves. She gave wise counsel to the troubled. She cooked meals for the hungry. No one left her house empty handed or empty hearted. I miss her every day.
The things that I learned from my mother, I have tried to bring to Occupy Medical. Every time my mobile free clinic pulls up to the curb, I take a deep breath and steady myself just as I have seen my mother do before starting a challenging project. When our bus opens the doors, patients from all walks of life are already lined up, waiting for care. Occupy Medical is committed to bringing care back into healthcare. Not a week goes by that at least one person tells us that this was the first time they had been treated with respect by a healthcare professional. When I ask them if they also want a hug, the answer is, invariably, yes.
The Dalai Lama had hit a nerve for me. He told us that it was in our natures, our very souls, to spread compassion. We need it just as we need the food we eat and the air we breathe. The words of His Holiness brought focus to ideas that I knew in my heart to be true. My mother spent her lifetime living these ideals. I was still fumbling along, trying to catch up. My work as a health care advocate has served as a playing field to manifest these goals. The rewards are boundless. I just hope my little brain can keep lessons of Buddha and my mother in a safe and easy place for my heart to reach.
Guest blogger Sue Sierralupe is a freelance writer, certified herbalist and Occupy Medical clinic manager. She and a group of dedicated volunteers offer free holistic medical care out of a retired blood mobile every week for the people of Eugene, Oregon. To find out more about Sue and her current projects, check her blog and websites.