Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reason for the Title and the Blog

Two days ago I arrived to India for the beginning of a four month research trip. While here I will be working with several different organizations. My internship for the next few months is with a wonderful NGO (Non Governmental Organization) called Navsarjan. (Don't worry I will go into extreme depth about the work they do later) The internship and research project I am currently involved with are requirements for the completion of my Master's in Peace and Justice Studies.

I am creating this blog both so that my family and friends can keep track of the work I am doing, and so that I may have a space to reflect on my experience here.

I decided to title this blog "Cultivating Compassion"because of the book I am currently reading, a book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama called Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World. The book speaks of the difference between empathy and compassion. While "empathy is characterized by a kind of emotional resonance--feeling with the other person, compassion, in contrast, is not just sharing experience with others, but also wishing to see them relieved of their suffering." 

"Compassion means wanting to do something to relieve the hardships of others, and this desire to help, far from dragging us further into suffering ourselves, actually gives is energy and a sense of purpose and direction." 

This is what I am seeking to do with my time here. It is my hope that my work here will help relieve the  Dalit "Untoucables" of a little bit of their hardships, and will help me feel secure in the direction my studies and life have taken me thus far. I want my work to be filled with purpose, and for my own circle of concern to be broadened so that I may leave here one step closer to a sense of universal compassion. 
So for the next four months I will be working towards CULTIVATING COMPASSION.

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