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The Medicine of Altruism
In Tibet we say that many illness can be cured by
the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the
ultimate source of human happiness, and need for them lies at the very
core of our being. Unfortunately, love and compassion have been omitted
from too many spheres of social interaction for too long. Usually
confined to family and home, their practice in public life is considered
impractical, even naive. This is tragic. In my view point, the practice
of compassion is not just a symptom of unrealistic idealism but the
most effective way to pursue the best interest of others as well as our
own. The more we- as a nation, a group or as individuals - depend upon
others, the more it is in our own best interests to ensure their
Practicing altruism is the real source of compromise and cooperation; merely recognizing our need for harmony is not enough. A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir - a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. This is like a seed; when cultivated, gives rise to many other good qualities, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity. The compassionate mind is like an elixir; it is capable of transforming bad situation into beneficial ones. Therefore, we should not limit our expressions of love and compassion to our family and friends. Nor is the compassion only the responsibility of clergy, health care and social workers. It is the necessary business of every part of the human community.
Whether a conflict lies in the field of politics, business or religion, an altruistic approach is frequently the sole means of resolving it. Sometimes the very concepts we use to meditate a dispute are themselves the cause of the problem. At such times, when a resolution seems impossible, both sides should recall the basic human nature that unites them. This will help break the impasse and, in the long run, make it easier for everyone to attain their goal. Although neither side may be fully satisfied, if both make concessions, at the very least, the danger of further conflict will be averted. We all know that this form of compromise is the most effective way of solving problems - why, then, do we not use it more often?