A few weeks back I gathered with 11,000 of my closest friends to see and hear the Dalai Lama. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not only the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism but also a spiritual leader for people of many faiths and no faith tradition in particular. He projects a sense of centeredness that grows from a life of being intentionally rooted in that which is eternal….that which is good and true.
The Dalai Lama was the keynote speaker for a conference that focused on climate change. During a Q and A time a person asked: “Given that humanity has recently reached a carbon output of 400 parts per million (ppm) and given that 350 ppm is considered the maximum level before escalating global warming is unleashed, how can we have hope for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? How can we not give in to despair?”
The crowd waited expectantly for his answer but the Dalai Lama was distracted. It seems a girl to the side of the stage, perhaps 5 years old and sitting on her Dad’s shoulders was having a hard time. Clearly something was bothering her.
As 11,000 of us waited, the Dalai Lama walked over to the girl and whispered in her ear. She then whispered back a response. His Holiness then walked across the stage to a bag that lay by his chair. He rummaged through the bag for sometime and then slowly walked back to the girl. Once again he whispered in her ear and placed in her hand a small item he had taken from the bag.
She smiled and skipped off the stage. Then and only then, did the Dalai Lama turn to the question from the audience. For me the answer was already given. Hope is found in the smallest act of compassion, in this case on behalf of a little girl. It is through compassion that we bless others. It starts with the need that is right in front of us.
Translate such small acts of compassion to the needs of our home planet. Consider what happens when compassion gives way to acts of advocacy on behalf of our natural world. Is it not a compassionate act to work for minimizing and in the long run even rolling back the level of carbon being emitted into our environment? Knowing climate change has the greatest impact on those least able to cope, is it not an act of compassion to work within our political and economic systems to bring about change?
Having tipped over the 400 ppm level where do we turn for hope? The answer the Dalai Lama reminds us in the every day acts of compassion. In closing His Holiness blessed us and sent us forth to bless others. For the sake of this planet we call home, may it be so.