Words to Live By

Jean-Pierre Dalbéra – originally posted to Flickr as La statue de Quan Am dans la pagode But Thap,

Watching the Democratic debate tonight. I’m not going to talk about the politics or the demeanor, but rather about Gayle King’s last question: What are the words you live by?

I would like to live by these words. I aspire and fail to live by all these words all the time, which is why they matter.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is thought to be the current incarnation of the spirit of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara or Quan Am. Bodhisattva is kind of a cool job title—it describes a person on the road toward enlightenment not merely for himself or herself, but on behalf of a community. A Bodhisattva regularly sets aside his or her own progress in favor of the support of others.

Quan Am, the Vietnamese referent for Avalokiteśvara, is often shown as having a thousand hands to lift all those who need, a thousand eyes to see all suffering, a thousand ears to hear all cries. It’s hard work, but needed.

There are lots of Bodhisattvas, people who could be enormously recognized for their talents as individuals but who instead choose to lift those around them. We see them not often in full sun, but rather in glimpses, as the others around them shine.

Say thanks to the bodhisattva closest to you. You know who they are.