South Sound Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Cultivating Compassionate Action, Olympia, Washington
South Sound Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Cultivating Compassionate Action
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The Bodhisattva Path of Compassionate Action

It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. There are two aspects of actions. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefitting others, one needs to be engaged, involved.
-- The Dalai Lama

People Like Us Can Make a Difference
Excerpts from Pema Chodron's commentary on "The Way of the Bodhisattva" in "No Time to Lose"

The "Way of the Bodhisattva" was composed in India over twelve centuries ago, yet it remains remarkably relevant for our times. This classic text, written by the Indian sage Shantideva, gives surprisingly up-to-date instructions for people like you and me to live sanely and openheartedly, even in a very troubled world. It is the essential guidebook for fledgling bohdhisattvas, those spiritual warriors who long to alleviate suffering, their own and that of others. Thus it belongs to the mahayana, the school of Buddhism that emphasizes all-inclusive compassion and the cultivation of our flexible, unbiased wisdom mind.

Not only were these teachings very personal, full of useful advice, and relevant to their lives, they were also poetic and fresh. The content itself was not radical. In the very first verses, Shantideva says that everything he's about to teach derives from the lineage of the Buddha. It wasn't his subject matter than was original; it was the direct and very contemporary way he expressed the teachings, and the beauty and power of his words.

The Sanskrit term bodhchitta is often translated as "awakened heart", and refers to an intense desire to alleviate suffering. On the relative level, bodhichitta expresses itself as longing. Specifically it is the heartfelt yearning to free oneself from the pain of igonrance and habitual patterns in order to help others do the same. This longing to alleviate the suffering of others is the main point. We start close to home with the wish to help those we know and love, but the underlying inspiration is global and all encompassing.

Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified this kind of longing. He knew that happiness depended on healing the whole situation. Taking sides -- black or white, abusers or abused -- only perpetuates the suffering. For me to be healed, everyone has to be healed.

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