The news coverage of the World Economic Forum at Davos was overshadowed with stories of power, money, celebrity and conjecture. There is another face to this gathering. There is what I will call the Compassionate Heart of the World Economic Forum at Davos.
The World Economic Forum describes itself an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Here is an illustration of the compassion and insight of the keen observing heart and brilliant lucid mind of Roshi Joan Halifax, the founding abbot of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, N.M., who presented at six different panels:
Roshi learned that Davos and the World Economic Forum includes not only the wealthy and powerful, but Indian farmers, loads of young people who care about their nations and a shared future, a raft of people who are dedicated to the protection of the earth, from our oceans to our mountain tops, teachers like Dan Goleman, Bill George and Otto Scharmer who spoke about mindful leadership and community; complexity economist Brian Arthur whose visionary view of economics includes its messiness; neuroscientist Tania Singer speaking about the affiliation network primed by endorphins and not necessarily valued by governments and business but should be; Tim and Wren Wirth on maternal care. She met many faith leaders and shared with them what Buddhism has to say about social engagement and environmental responsibility. She spoke about her work with clinicians, dying people, and those in prison in a session on ethics. In the session on "Mastering Emotions", a standing room only session (the Crown Princess of Norway said it was the best session in Davos), she spoke about the importance of cultivating prosocial mental qualities, alongside Dan Goleman and Tania Singer. She returned again and again to the importance of compassion in our world today, the importance of including more women in the dialogue, and the role of meditation in the peacemaking process.
We shall see how the seeds planted this year bear their fruits in the seasons to come. May the altruism and generosity and intelligence imbued in them yield a rich harvest.