Field Trip: Lecture on Compassion

Field Trip is a new monthly blog post Angelina and I have created as we venture out from our normal Christian roots to a more diverse understanding of the Divine.  We have many trips planned for the future which include visits to other faiths, beliefs and cultures. As we move forward into the unknown, we plan on sharing the information and experiences here with all of our sisters.

Ang & Ed

A few weeks ago, we went to a lecture on compassion, given by Lama Jigme Gyatso at Viva La Vegan.

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Much of the lecture was geared towards extending compassion to our diets and adapting a plant-based, animal free diet. I have been a vegan for over two years now and a vegetarian for over eight years. I feel that I have done a decent job in making the connection between human compassion, empathy and suffering of that with my animal friends.

However,  I can personally still work on the compassion I extend out into the universe

Shortly before this school year started, I had a great conversation at my book club, about how it is that we lead….I thought about that question for almost a week afterwards, how do I lead? I have been blessed to be in a leadership position in my career, and even more privileged to be in the position where I am leading the future generation through working with high schoolers, but how is  it that I am leading them?

When I really gave it some thought, I realized that what attracted me to my career was the opportunity to help others. However, through the course of my career, I have sometimes lost this and lead through the need to be productive, efficient, responsible and useful. Often times, my focus was more on the quantity of my work and not quality. And while I most definitely still want to put out a productive amount of work, letting that alone be my motivation would leave me drained and unhappy, and potentially not giving the best of myself to my students (one of my greatest fears).

I set the intention this school year, to lead through compassion and love. I have been intending to still be efficient in my work, but let compassion, kindness and love always be the motivation behind my intentions. I have tried to reframe situations that I may not exactly like, to be done with love and be completely present with what I am doing, and the reason I am doing it.

Attempting to live compassionately has helped me find more joy in more work and hopefully, that transcends into what is best for my students.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

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I was really excited when Angelina and I decided that our first field trip would be a lecture from Lama Jigme .  His message on compassion and suffering had a similar theme which I’ve often heard in Catholic circles but never fully quite understood.  In the Catholic tradition, suffering is viewed as necessary to expiate sin and immorality; it is also viewed as a means to win souls for God.  If a person offers their daily cross to the Lord, many souls are released from purgatory.

Lama Jigme’s message on the other hand explored true compassion.  He viewed suffering as part of the human experience. For example, if I were to lose a close relative in a car accident, I would unite my pain with the rest of the world and suffer along with those who are experiencing the same tragedy.  In this way I’m not excluding myself from my brothers and sisters but instead I’m becoming part of the one body.

I started to practice his message the very next day.  My regular morning routine is to wake up at 4:30 and hit the shower; right before I get in, as I wait for the water to heat up, I sit on the toilet seat with my head buried in my hands thinking – “how am I ever going to make it past the first hour of work?!”  At that moment, I decided to unite my pain with the rest of the human family as they readied for work.  I felt a bit of the sting start to wear off as my thoughts surrendered the lonely feeling; I was no longer alone in my pain but united with my fellow brothers and sisters who hate getting out of bed as much as I do.

It’s not a life altering example by any means, but it gave me a jumping off point for the future.

Thank you Lama Jigme for helping me see that I am not separate from the human family.

Love,
Ed

 

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