A talk on compassion

Last weekend I headed to London to see the Dalai Lama speak at the O2 on the topic of compassion. I have always wanted to see the Dalai Lama speak, partly through other people telling me about some of the the talks he has done before but also because the topic of Buddhism has always interested me.

Although I would describe myself as a Christian and have been since birth, there are some elements of Christianity that I question. Part of me has justified the acceptability of those questions because there is after all the concept of freewill. The other part of me wonders whether it is right that there are so many people in this world with so many religions that seem to be in conflict with each other.

The talk was around 45 minutes followed by around 45 minutes of questions and answers. I won’t share everything about the talk but one thing that stuck out looked at the secular state. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Dalai Lama is an advocate for a secular state. His reason, which made perfect sense to me, is that a secular state isn’t against religion but instead allows people to practice any religion that they choose and, by its very nature, allows the state to look at similarities rather than differences.

That reasoning led the Dalai Lama to talk about compassion and to say that to enable compassion we should recognise that everybody has the same objective. A happy life. Pretty simple but makes sense. His thinking is that all people have the same objective but some people have outside influences that mean their way to achieve that objective is unacceptable. A terrorist has the objective to have a happy life (or after life). The way they choose to achieve that objective is unacceptable but their objective is still the same as yours or mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should start showing compassion and empathy to terrorists. I am saying that there may be people who I may struggle to show compassion to but I should attempt to focus on their similar objectives.

The talk made me really think and I am planning to read some books and look into some more of the teachings and learnings. I love visiting places that make me think and challenge my own views and perceptions. The Dalai Lama certainly made me do that.

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