Dalai Lama on compassion

My heart is stronger than my mind. I know I am supposed to be compassionate and loving towards all. I know that abusers of all kinds are acting in accordance with their own views of life. I can forgive and I can forget. But I confess, I simply won’t forgive some people. Maybe someday I will be more like the Buddha. But today is not the day.

On his 80th birthday last July, at a public celebration in California, the Dalai Lama said, “As a human being, as a social animal, every individual has a moral responsibility to think of the well-being of humanity.” Then he challenged religious ideologues to practise “unbiased compassion.”

He engaged the large audience there with a story about how he had reacted when he was called a demon by a hardline Chinese communist. He explained, “When I first heard that, I said, yes, I’m demon!” Then he laughed and cupped his hands like horns over his head. He demonstrated, perhaps, that not taking personal attacks seriously is better than fighting back. The Los Angeles Times later reported that the birthday bash was not without controversy. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Honda Center, as they have on the Dalai Lama’s prior visits to the US. They object to his advice not to worship Dorje Shugden, one of hundreds of Tibetan Buddhism’s “protector deities” – named for their ability to shield.

For decades, the Dalai Lama included Shugden in his daily prayers. But under the counsel of his personal oracle, he renounced the practice in 1975, contending that Shugden was a malevolent spirit that was dividing Tibetans. Unbiased compassion, therefore, one might conclude, does not require feeling badly about demons. An oracle in Tibetan Buddhism acts as a medium for a protector deity. His Holiness noted, “As a human being, as a social animal, every individual has a moral responsibility to think of the well-being of humanity.”

The LA times reported, “Shugden practitioners such as Lizette Fowler, who traveled to Anaheim from Britain to protest what she described as the Dalai Lama’s “ban” on Shugden practice, said he is practising religious discrimination.” But His Holiness has held to his position. Unbiased compassion does not mean that we have to feel pity toward a person who commits wrongful actions. Nor do we have to judge them. It means that sometimes the answer has to be NO to harmful actions. But hope that evildoers will change is always a good action. Suddenly, I have a better understanding of His Holiness’ unbiased compassion….Do good to everyone, but stay away from demons. Especially those disguised as “protectors”. I guess I had it right all along…. My instincts are there for a reason. Later, the Dalai Lama urged governments to foster “loving kindness” through public policy.

“Ultimately, gun control is here,” he said, pounding his heart. “Anger, hatred lives here.” And, most of all, so does love.

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