in Ten Directions
The left side of the Wheel illustrates the path of joyous participation
in the world. From the seeds of compassion come the flowers of awareness
and the fruits of engagement. "Ten directions" refers to
the eight cardinal compass points, plus up and down. In other words,
when someone can act in an unhindered manner on behalf of others,
handling inner and outer work gladly, the path is open in all directions. "When
I live committed like this, my life is full of joy," declares
Engaged Buddhists are demonstrating the spirit of this path in personal,
social, and global arenas, and in ways that transcend those distinctions.
In the winter of 1993, as war raged in the former Yugoslavia, Fran
Peavey was deeply disturbed by the atrocities committed against women.
She decided to go to the war-torn country and offer whatever assistance
she could, but she did not want to arrive empty-handed. Then she had
In one of my morning meditations, the idea came to me of making small
bundles of sweet-smelling soaps, shampoos, make-up, and scarves for
the women in the former Yugoslavia who had been raped or lost their
homes. Maybe it could help them remember some of the wonderful things
about being a woman that a rape tends to erase. Maybe they could feel
the connection of women from other parts of the world who sent those
packages. I don't know where that idea came from, because I never
use make-up or some of the other items I imagined for those bundles.
In the face of real atrocities, would such a gesture
be meaningful? Do "random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" have a
place alongside the responses of governments and large organizations?
Peavey herself had doubts. She contacted some Yugoslav women and made
other inquiries. Eventually, after months of preparation, she and
a partner hand-delivered eight thousand gift packages, individually
wrapped by women in America and Australia, to victims of the war.
When Peavey saw the Yugoslav women receive their packages, her lingering
doubts dissolved. "Later, when some of them invited us into their
rooms, they might be wearing a new scarf or perfume, and we could
see that they were happy." After returning home, she organized
further relief efforts, sending medical supplies and helping the women
find markets for embroidered bracelets. For Peavey, the gift project
became a way to "build bridges and open hearts in a situation
full of fear, suspicion, and hatred."
Was Peavey's response meaningful in the
face of real atrocities?
Perform some acts of kindness that may
seem random. Perform some acts of beauty that may seem
Further: Perform such acts anonymously
(when possible), without claiming credit.