Every person plays their own melody, we just must take time to listen. Perhaps what is needed is just a little fine-tuning along with freedom from fear. It has been said that there is no use getting old if you do not know everything, therefore remaining forever young. That whatever we intend, whatever we plan, and whatever we have a tendency toward, will become the basis on which our mind is established often from the most romanticized version of a story. The story that most people want to hear.
If we can develop ourselves on compassion, any cruelty can be abandoned. For myself, this thought is the key to actively appreciating the world around us as we gain a thankful recognition for all living things. We sometimes equate this with Buddhism and Buddhist teachings, but this is universal in nature as we learn to temper our actions beyond ourselves.
In my travels to China, I have visited more than a dozen Buddhist and Taoist temples, monasteries and national museums that have taught me to have a greater appreciation for the benefits of studying history and my own innermost thoughts. Living and teaching next to the Confucius Temple in Qufu for many years helped to gain insight as well.
I have also travelled to Lhasa, Tibet in 2018 and visited several Buddhist monasteries and temples, taken hundreds of pictures and have learned to value the spiritual benefits of living a certain way of life. Do I consider myself a Buddhist, no, but a student of the value of inner growth that responds as inner-being, and acknowledgment that we each play a role in spreading compassion in our world. Just what is in meaning of “Compassionate feelings for all living things and how does that impact how we are to live.” Many will say Buddhism is not a religion, but a practice – a way of life. Having been to Lhasa and travelled on the ring (path) connecting the Potala Palace with Buddhist temples and monasteries, I would say it can be both.
There is a universal intrinsic sense of gratitude and virtue found in communing with both nature and our fellow man when we learn to express compassion. Eastern philosophy has epitomized this teaching and understanding.
First, in Taoism and then in Buddhism. Ideas of we are one with all things found in nature became the benchmark with how we are to go about living. When Confucianism came along more than twenty-five hundred years ago conveying benevolence and virtue it became the glue expressed as filial propriety directed towards behavior for oneself, one’s family, and community.
Even to the ancient truism expressed as “To be born a Taoist, live as a Confucian, and to die a Buddhist, is the ultimate expression of one’s life.”
The Silk Road served to introduce new thoughts, but the intrinsic value of self-knowledge (Taoism) and pre-disposition towards the universality of all things (Buddhism) gave the ancient Chinese wisdom to understand how man and nature were one (the virtue of Confucius). Our history tells us to take a far-sighted view as we acknowledge the interconnectivity of all things.
From the Dalai Lama… “I belong to the twentieth century, an era that is past. I want to share with those of you who are young, if you start to collect the causes now, you will live to see a happier more peaceful world.
Philosophers and yogis from the East believed in the power of correct speech, therefore, they derived the mantras. The same story is true in the case of the well-known Tibetan Buddhist Mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. The stone inscription is found in Llasa outside the Potala Palace.
The Dalai Lama continues: Do not be content with the present circumstances, take a more far-sighted view. When the heart is closed, it leads to fear, stress, and anger. Nurturing the idea of the oneness of humanity has the effect of opening the heart. When you think of all other human beings as your brothers and sisters it’s easy to communicate with them all.”
Buddhist wisdom has much to offer in these times of planetary crisis—most notably the teachings of compassion and interdependence. The Buddha taught that all of life is interdependent, arising from the same source and empty of a separate existence. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh called this the truth of “interbeing”, describing our essential interconnectivity with all of life, including plants, animals, and the rest of the natural world. Vibrations in which our own melody is to play in harmony and in sync with a universal chorus.