Start Small and Humble

Nobel Prize

(Nobel Prize. Photo credit: quinn.anya)

Bernie Glassman Roshi speaks a great deal about the Buddhist principle of Compassionate Action.  “How do we develop the qualities that allow us to respond to life as it comes at us with compassion for everybody and everything?”

Or, as economist Paul Krugman said, “We have to hold beings accountable in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, where the ‘NO’ is firm and we share it as a nation, as a world, to acts that are despicable.  Or a response of compassion that takes the form of joy on the path of service as we meet suffering in small intimate gestures: toothpaste and socks for the homeless. Obama with a paint roller in his hand the day before his inauguration putting teal paint on the wall of the homeless shelter.  Those small, perfect and humble gestures that make the world right.”

Unfortunately our first instinct is to  think of Compassionate Action as big, global, Nobel-prize-worthy activities that impact the entire planet!  (Not to mention the fame, glory, big checks and inflated egos that go along with this picture.)

If I’m catching on to what Glassman and Krugman are saying it may be that Compassionate Action is a bit more anonymous and mundane: recycling and composting, driving my neighbor to appointments or a (silent!) commitment to greet everyone with a sincere smile.  Maybe even breathing deeply — taking a beat —  before speaking or acting incorrectly.

What occurs to you?


2 Responses to “Start Small and Humble”

  1. Still treading this path, it is a delight to be continually aware of opportunities for compassionate action.
    It is, as you say, anonymous and mundane.
    It is, as was said, a quality that allows us to respond to life as it comes at us with compassion for everyone and everything.
    It is, as you say, doing our duty, helping a friend or stranger, taking a breath before speaking.
    It is true, as you suspect:
    You are catching on.

    Be at peace,


  2. seniorsamurai Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments

    In Gassho

    SS –

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