Portrait by Tao Nguyen

Sunday, October 2, 2011


"All the peace and happiness of the whole globe,
the peace and happiness of societies,
the peace and happiness of family,
the peace and happiness in the individual persons' life,
and the peace and happiness of even the animals and so forth,
all depends on having loving kindness toward each other."

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

            Tong’s compassionate nature came from two prongs. First, when he was a young boy his grandfather taught him the fundamentals of reading and writing, mathematics and history. But his lessons reached beyond the scope of basics; he also taught Tong to write poetry, for his mind to see with closed eyes, and to teach others in need whenever he encountered them.
One day Grandfather instructed Tong: “At least once in his lifetime, a man of conscience finds himself in the position of being a teacher to one in need of guidance. When faced with this duty, he is obliged to respond. Always remember, you are intimately connected from the moment you realize you have met one who is in need of a teacher and it is you who holds the knowledge they seek.”* Then Grandfather elicited a promise from his young grandson to honor his teaching throughout his adult life.
            The second prong that defined Tong’s compassion was the lingering sorrow over the death of his wife. From a place of suffering, Tong was able to comprehend the pain of others, to respond with compassion and honor his grandfather’s teaching. He practiced compassion by aiding people he encountered who needed his gentle wisdom and guidance.
            The Dali Lama tells us compassion is defined as wanting others to be free of suffering. All sentient beings suffer. By extending our help, compassion can be defined as the highest spiritual motivation. In the realm of good deeds toward our fellow man, kindness outlasts suffering.


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Yours in good fortune,

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