Global Compassion Summit and Another Way to Look at Nepal

Tuesday, on his PBS talk show, Tavis Smiley hosted Ven. Lama Tenzin Dhonden, Founder and Chair of the nonprofit Friends of the Dalai Lama, and Kelly Thornton Smith, the Founder and Board Chair for the Center for Living Peace. They are organizers of the Global Compassion Summit, a celebration to be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim and UC Irvine July 5-7 in commemoration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday (July 6).

hhdl80summit2More than a birthday party, the three-day Global Compassion Summit honors the Dalai Lama’s lifetime work spreading the message of peace of compassion. His Holiness will give one public talk and attend three panel discussions during the summit. Also scheduled to attend are fellow Nobel Laureates and professional experts and friends who have either collaborated with the Dalai Lama or share his vision for the achievement of Universal Peace.

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Lama Tenzin was trained in the monastic tradition of Namgyal Monastery, the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. He is a master of the arts of creating traditional Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas and butter sculptures. For the past 15 years, Lama Tenzin has been living part-time in the US. He is the Peace Emissary for the Dalai Lama.

During Tuesday’s program, Tavis Smiley asked about the Dalai Lama’s feelings about the massive earthquake that recently hit Nepal. Lama Tenzin replied,

Lama Tenzin Dhonden
Lama Tenzin Dhonden

Personally, the situation in Nepal is very sad. But there is another way to look at it. From the positive perspective, it helps us to focus and remind us on our own strength, and it reminds us that we do believe in one humanity, one single global community. It is at times like this that our own sense of compassion demonstrate to be more stronger than our bias, our boundaries, and our politics. And as it is the case with every last disaster brings a tremendous potential for positive outlook.

So, I think His Holiness prays and sends a lot of light to those victims in Nepal. And the strategy and the victims reminds us of the preciousness of all life. And the survivors we see on the media remind and teach us of the vigilance of humanity. So there is a positive way to look at it, and if you try to look at it positively then you see that many people come together and share their hands and their support.”

People who do not understand Buddhism often criticize it for being negative, nihilistic. This is a completely mistaken view. A central understanding of Buddha-dharma has always been that there is another way to look at anything, whether is a natural disaster, a man-made one, or a personal tragedy. There is always scope for a positive outlook.

For Buddhists, when great misfortune occurs, it is an opportunity to deepen both our practice and our understanding of the core concepts of Buddha-dharma. In a situation like in Nepal, it is a time to generate compassion, which brings forth the selfless, unconditioned nature of our being, inseparable from all other beings. It is like lighting a light from within, and I am not sure this light can transcend time and space so that we can send it to others, but certainly, we can cause this light of positive, compassionate energy to radiate throughout of our our being, and that is a very good start.


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