By Lucy Ferrier – Marketing & Communications Manager at Jeevika Trust
Though I am not a practising Buddhist, I have found inspiration in the Dalai Lama’s continual support and promotion of human rights, human compassion, and secular ethics, so it was an honour to visit London’s O2 arena recently to listen to his address entitled “Compassion: The Foundation of Wellbeing”.
I was instantly captivated by His Holiness’ two hour address. Composed, serene and humorous (he jokingly asked his translator at the beginning what the topic of his address was meant to be), the Dalai Lama gave a rousing speech on the importance of compassion, both to the individual and to society as whole.
“Compassion is a marvel of human nature. It is a precious inner resource and the foundation of our wellbeing and the harmony of our societies”
The overriding message of His Holiness’ address was that – regardless of race, religion, gender or any other factor – we are all ultimately the same. We all have the same needs, the same rights to a happy life and the same responsibilities to ensure the well-being of not only our fellow humanity, but also the planet.
Despite being “just one of 7 billion people on the planet”, the Dalai Lama made me feel empowered to make a difference (I’m sure others who attended the event would say the same) and made me assess my own responsibility to create a better, fairer and more harmonious world. Making positive change in the world starts with the individual – “through inner peace, world peace”. It is not just the responsibility of governments and institutions, but lies with all of us.
I have only recently joined Jeevika Trust, but part of the attraction of this fantastic organisation was the focus on compassion, service and co-operation, affectionately known as the “head, heart and hands” approach. Jeevika Trust prides itself on working to E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” model – through investing in small-scale, locally-appropriate projects, we not only make a difference to the direct project beneficiaries (mainly dalit and tribal women in India), but also their families and their wider communities. This is very much in keeping with the Dalai Lama’s address – many of the people we work with face routine discrimination and inequality but they have the same right to a happy, secure life as anyone else and we’re working to make that happen. Though we work on a small scale, we have touched hundreds of thousands of lives in village India over the last 40 years, proof that even small changes can add up to make a big difference.
We hope to have touched 1 million lives by 2020, an ambitious goal, but achievable with your help. You, as an individual, have the power and the responsibility to create a better tomorrow. Start by practising compassion, because if all 7 billion of us do the same, we truly can change the world.
As the Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”.
If you’d like to get involved with Jeevika’s work, please pop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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