Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Gentle Breeze of Good Will

I went to India in February of this year for three weeks. It was a humanitarian trip to a Tibetan Monastery in northern India to provide medical care to seven different Tibetan refugee camps. The group, Humanitarian Efforts Reaching Out, was comprised of medical doctors, nurses, a couple of guys who can build anything and an extraordinary photographer. My role was two-fold, as a sherpa … we took everything we needed in 50 pound suitcases … and to keep track of the people we saw and the ailments we treated. I know my way around a spreadsheet.

I loved India. It's magical. The colors, the food, the people, the landscape. Yes it has its down side, but the magical part captured by heart.

At the Monastery, we had daily teachings with Tulku Tsori Rinpoche, the religious leader and teacher. He talked, quite a bit, about compassion. He said, "True compassion is understanding that we must never be the cause of suffering or harm to anyone."

I've thought about that one statement a lot lately. The recent hatred that's been spewing forth in cities and communities across this country and the passive acceptance by those who should be denouncing it literally broke my heart. For as long as I've been alive, the conversation about discrimination based on sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national origin and religion and the fight to eliminate it has been going on. No matter how far we progress, we just don't ever seem to get over this hurdle.

I took this picture of these Tibetan prayer flags at the Monastery as one of my final shots. They had been blessed by the Rinpoche as had all of our group. We left with a greater understanding of compassion and the gratitude that comes in service to others.

Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. Tibetans believe that the prayers that these flags represent will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion.

It's a simple step to hang some flags. It's much harder to live the principles they represent. But these flags, for me, remind me every day who I want to be and how I want to go through the day.

It's time to spread good will and compassion, but we can't just depend on the wind … we must use our voices, words and actions to combat hatred.