Join our Mailing List

"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

The Guru Next Door: There’s a little bit of Buddha in everyone

June 16, 2009


Monday, 15 June 2009


You may have noticed that the Dalai Lama was in the area recently. Perhaps you were even among the thousands who packed the gorgeous Beacon Theatre in New York City. I was there in the midst of a stunningly diverse crowd representing every age, ethnicity, gender, and style. The kid with the spiked hair, the buff looking dude in the tight jeans and body shirt, the mom with an infant on her shoulder, the elderly gentleman with the cane — I could go on and on. We had all waited in the chilly rain in a line that wrapped around the block twice — to hear the Dalai Lama give the Buddhist view of compassion. Compassion! Have you heard the news lately? You would think that compassion had gone the way of the dime subway token, vinyl records and the pet rock (Ok, I may still have mine somewhere). It was lovely to be in the midst of so many people who had actually bought a ticket to immerse themselves in a lecture about compassion. And it really made me wonder. Is this crowd so different than the ones I saw on the subway, in the train station, at the supermarket? Don't we all love the idea of compassion? Isn't there a little bit of Buddha in everyone?


Granted, I'm using Buddha here as a representative of the compassionate ideal. But as you may know, Buddha has a lot of company in this regard. All the major religions of the world extol compassion in some form or another. Compassion is at the core of many ethical frameworks and spiritual practices. There are thousands of organizations dedicated to compassion in some way. If you doubt it, check it out on Google. There are almost 24 million entries on compassion. I am happy to say it beats out hatred by over a million entries. Compassion is a big subject.


You are part of the compassionate network


Let's make it a smaller subject. A personal subject. Because compassion is always personal. Because it starts with us. Because we are all in this together. So, regardless of how you were raised, whether you have a religious, spiritual or ethical orientation, you are part of the compassionate network. You may not have noticed, but you have been the beneficiary of thousands of acts of compassion over the course of your life, which continues to this day, to this moment. From the time the nurse in the delivery room tenderly cleared your airways so you could take your first breath, to that helping hand you may have received today, compassion has made your life workable, magical, and even possible, in more ways than you may have realized. For a wonderful, refreshing experience, be on the lookout for acts of compassion taking place all around you — especially on those days when nothing seems to go right.


What is your contribution to the compassionate network?


If you have ever had the desire to help someone else, to ease their suffering, you are compassionate. Wouldn't we all end suffering if we could? Any kind of suffering? Even if it is just our own suffering? Even if it is just for our close circle of friends and family? Whatever form it takes, however submerged or unformed, whatever the focus — don't we all have that compassionate urge? I'm not talking about feeling sorry for people — I'm talking about the spontaneous reaction we often have when we see suffering. Try just imagining helping someone and see how it feels. Chances are, it feels good. It feels wonderful. In fact, there is a very close connection between compassion and happiness. One seems to fuel the other.


So look for that little splash of compassion to bubble up in you — that little touch of the Buddha. That impulse to help out. To grab a child about to run in front of a car. To take a sick friend a meal. To smile at a stranger. And most important to your own well-being, to have compassion for your own suffering, you own need for help. There's no measuring stick that applies here. The compassionate urge comes from a place of love and generosity. What if we always saw it as a simple desire that is part of our nature, and never as an obligation or a should or a must?


Look for your compassionate urge and then observe what you do with it. What you say about it. What you believe about it. These are all questions that you can ask (with compassion!). Do you stifle the urge because you don't want to take the time? Are you afraid of looking silly? Being seen as weak in some way? Do you have rules about compassion? Does your compassion require reciprocation? Do you angrily yank it back if someone doesn't appreciate it? Does your compassion have to be deserved? Is it only reserved for certain people? Only you have the answers to these questions.


To the extent that we actively value and nurture compassion in ourselves and others, we are part of that vast compassionate network. It's our gift and it's our choice.


Wendy Dolber is an Option Method practitioner and owns Dialogues in Self Discovery LLC, dedicated to teachings in the Option Method. The Method is a personal growth and development tool, and is not a psychotherapy. She works with clients all over the world and maintains an office in Montclair, NJ. She welcomes all comments and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need java_script enabled to view it . More information can be found on the company website at

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank