The lone Buddhist
The lone Buddhist
Well, here I am, after having been transferred to a level 5 prison. There is not a lot of difference between this camp and my last one, except that this place has a weird tension in the air. There are a lot of people who I know from the last camp I was at. As the name of the article implies, I am the only Buddhist here, and it’s not a big problem or anything, but I do wish to know other practitioners, to exchange ideas and experience with (what little experience I have). It’s not totally necessary, but it is good to have people with the same goal to talk with.
I want to talk a little about compassion. A few days ago, I was flipping through the TV channels and came across the 1980 version of “The Elephant Man” with Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Even though I have not had interest in this type of movie in the past, I got very into it. This poor man was so horribly deformed that people were very nasty and apt to tease and ridicule him. I watched, and immediately I was sad for him, and wanting good things for him, even though it’s only a movie (but based on a true story).
I was emotionally involved in it. This gave me my first strong feeling of compassion. Now I understand what compassion truly is, and I have to strive to cultivate this compassion for EVERY living being, regardless of who they are, or what they’ve done. Just because a person is in prison does not mean he or she is undeserving of our compassion. If that were the case, I would not be writing this article.
Compassion, to me, is seeing the suffering in a person’s life, realizing that every living being is suffering in the same way, having sadness for the ones who are suffering, and being determined to stop that suffering in any way you can, regardless of risk or ridicule.
Try to show someone compassion this week, even if it’s only one person. We must start somewhere. Remember, in our own way, we are all elephant people. May you be well and happy!
Venerable Thubten Chodron
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.