using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : January 2015
In the second week, we begin the actual compassion training. In the traditional sequence, we start with compassion for ourselves, and then extend that out to loved ones, and then to strangers, and enemies, and so on. But in this training, we begin by focusing on our loved ones. One of the things that I have been quite surprised by is how challenging self-compassion is for people in the West. So we switched the sequence and start with compassion for a loved one, because people find that easier than compassion for themselves. The idea is that we all experience a natural feeling of affection for our loved ones—our children, our spouse, our friends, our aging parents, and even strangers who are in pain. We are all capable of that, because we are naturally empathetic creatures. The practice here is to pay conscious attention to this feeling, to evoke it, so it reminds us that this is a natural quality we possess. This is the second week. In the third and fourth weeks, we focus on self- compassion. We felt we needed to devote two full weeks of the program to this. The first part focuses on self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, and being at ease with oneself—those kinds of things. In the second week of self-compassion practice, we focus on learning to be comfortable with the aspiration for one’s own happiness, because a lot of people in the West have a problem with this. They don’t seem to be able to dis- tinguish between genuine self-concern and narcissistic self-absorption, and this is a very critical distinction. In subsequent weeks, we expand our compassion to include more and more people, and ultimately all beings. We recognize the interdependence of self and others and see how much our happiness is dependent on others—how many people contributed so we could enjoy a simple meal. We extend our compassion to all of them. Finally, the participants train in what we call active compassion. This is drawn from the Buddhist practice of tonglen, in which we mentally take in others’ suf- fering and offer them our happiness. We are trying to prime ourselves so the sentiments we have cultivated can actually manifest in action. Then, throughout the eight-week program, the stu- dents do a number of what we call informal practices. These are drawn from the mind training principle that whatever you encounter in life, you can bring it into your practice. So whatever the focus happens to be for that particular week, we encourage the participants to use their everyday experience to bring it out. ♦ the principle of coMpassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical, and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every sin- gle human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity, and respect. It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvin- ism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live com- passionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion. We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion; to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred, or disdain is illegitimate; to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful infor- mation about other traditions, religions, and cultures; to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity; and to cultivate an informed empathy with the suf- fering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies. We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous, and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compas- sion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological, and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a ful- filled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indis- pensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community. ♦ To join the more than 100,000 people who have signed the Charter for Com- passion, go to www.charterforcompassion.org. The Charter for Compassion Karen arMstronG’s inspiring call for a more compassionate global community Karen Armstrong SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2015 63