Lesson
15

Compassionate Society

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Compassion in action

As we approach the end of the Twentieth Century, we find that the world is becoming one community. We are being drawn together by the grave problems of over population, dwindling natural resources, and an environmental crisis  that threaten the very foundation of our existence on this planet. Human rights, environmental protection and great social and economic equality,  are all interrelated. I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility.  Each of us must learn to work not just for one self, one's own family or  one's nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility  is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace.

A new way of thinking has become the necessary condition for responsible living and acting. If we maintain obsolete values and beliefs, a fragmented consciousness and a self-centered spirit, we will continue to hold to outdated goals and behaviors. Much an attitude by a large number of people would block the entire- transition to an interdependent yet peaceful and cooperative global society.

I, for one, strongly believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Every individual has a responsibility to help more our global family in the right direction and we must each assume that responsibility. As a Buddhist monk, I try to develop compassion within myself, not simply as a religious practice, but on a human level as well. To encourage myself in this altruistic attitude, I sometimes find it helpful to imagine myself standing as a single individual on one side, facing a huge gathering of all other human beings on the other side. Then I ask myself, 'Whose interests are more important?' To me it is quite clear that however important I may feel I am, I am just one individual while others are infinite in number and importance.