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Bishop Tutu: It's Time To Make Compassion Fashionable

09/14/2010 08:38 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

We have a newspaper photograph of Bishop Tutu with his hands held in prayer position. Underneath it are his words, Please make it fashionable to be compassionate. That photograph is many years old yet his words are possibly even more relevant today. Is it not time to make kindness cool, to make consideration and caring hot topics?

We've already proven that war does not work, that fighting and killing in the name of religion, to wipe out an enemy, or to claim control never has a happy ending, always there is suffering, anguish and continued pain. The belief that there is an 'us' and 'them' causes an endless no-win situation, blanketing our minds with ignorance. There is enough suffering in the world already. We have come so far in our technological development but we need the one piece that is missing: the qualities of the heart.

"We do not need to save the world, because the world as a whole is fine. It is redeeming and saving humanity that is necessary," writes Jack Kornfield in our award winning book, "Be The Change." "In doing so, we must end the destruction and harm that we cause to all that is around us. We know that there is global suffering. We also know within ourselves is the potential for great love and forgiveness and generosity that is a part of our own true nature. And now is the time to transform ourselves and bring that forward."

It is time for a revolution that brings alive fearlessness, courage, compassion and love so we can break through the differences that separate us and cause so much loneliness and fear. If we genuinely want to end terrorism, if we genuinely want to bring real and peaceful change to the world, then there is only one place where we can begin. We must stop the war within ourselves. How can there ever be peace in the world if we are not at peace with ourselves?

A revolution is a re-evolution; it is the willingness to take a higher step in the evolution of consciousness. It is also a revolving, a turning around of ourselves in response to an inner calling. In this case it is the turning from selfishness, self-survival and closed heartedness to openheartedness, sharing and tenderness. It is a shift in emphasis. From being consumed with our fears, doubts, insecurities and dramas, our greatest joy comes from caring for each other.

To consciously activate this change, we need to be honest about our own behavior. If we need more love, then we have to ask how much love are we bringing to the world? If we think there needs to be more compassion, are we the ones who need to be more compassionate? If we are looking for more respect and kindness, then are we showing respect and kindness toward others? If we want a friend, are we being a friend? Some time ago, Ed belonged to a meditation community. At a group meeting, Claire stood up and announced, "I have no friends here." The teacher replied, "Be a friend." In other words, are we a part of the problem or the solution?

Anytime Kindness
Whenever we get stressed we tend to withdraw and close our hearts toward others. Unable to reach out we have a "couldn't care less" attitude--nothing matters but our own little world. By developing a more loving and caring attitude, we will find greater peace and joy and certainly less stress.

"All of the pain and pleasure that we experience stems fundamentally from the mind. So when we say we want peace on earth, what we are really talking about is reducing the conflict in our own minds," writes Sakyong Mipham in "Be The Change."

Every time you feel rushed, irritated, annoyed or upset, sit quietly and silently repeat: "May I be happy or May I be filled with loving kindness."

If you can do that for a day then the next day silently say: "May you be well" or "May you be happy" to each person you see or meet. It is important not to tell them--just feel it in your heart. You can do this to people in an elevator, at work, in the street or at home.

Silently repeat: "May you be filled with loving kindness" when your partner or boss is upset or angry with you, or when someone is criticizing you. The more you do this, the more you release the hook inside yourself so that anger cannot land.

If a day feels easy, try a whole week. Let friendliness and kindness grow within you. Make it your goal to become a more loving and kinder person.

How can you be more compassionate? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs every Tuesday by checking Become a Fan at the top.

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See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Dean Ornish, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie, Michael Beckwith, Seane Corn, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta--Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi-Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra-Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com

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