Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Contemplation: Helping Others Makes You Happy! Harvard Business School tells us it's so...

A recent paper from Harvard Business School tell us something that Adventures in Compassion readers already know: Helping others makes us happy!

The paper, by Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, and Elizabeth W. Dunn, shows us how:
  • Happy people give more.
  • Giving is "inherently rewarding."
  • "...students who engaged in random acts of kindness were significantly happier than controls."
  • "...spending money on others leads to higher happiness than spending money on oneself."
  • "...prosocial spending and happiness fuel each other in a circular fashion," meaning, helping others makes you happier, and when you're happier, you're more likely to help others.
This holiday season, consider making a difference for others in whatever way you can. It'll make you happy, and when you're happy, you'll be more likely to help others. Then you'll be happier. And you'll help others even more. And then you'll be happier... *

The latest Buddha at Work on One City - "Take Your Cushion to Work Day"

Here's the latest Buddha at Work:

Happy Thanksgiving! *

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Apologies for my disappearance

Hi there,

Sorry I've been away from this site. I've been writing regularly for One City, but don't think I've given up on Adventures in Compassion! Expect new posts soon.

In the meantime, please read my One City posts here:

I've been talking about the Six Paramitas over there, most recently Effort and Patience... look for a new posting on Meditative Concentration this week!

Jon *

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Charter for Compassion Launches!! Hooray Hooray!

Today, the Charter for Compassion launched, as the fulfillment of Karen Armstrong's 2008 Ted prize. Here's why it was created:
"The Charter of Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems. One of the most urgent tasks of our generation is to build a global community where men and women of all races, nations and ideologies can live together in peace. In our globalized world, everybody has become our neighbor, and the Golden Rule has become an urgent necessity."
And here it is, in its entirety:
"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others - even our enemies - is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings, even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."
I'm in! There's lots more info on the website: and you can sign the affirmation below:


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Latest Posts on One City

A couple of new posts you might find interesting. They're not entertainment-related, specifically, which is why they're on One City rather than here:

A Journey into Right Livelihood through Etsy:

The Buddha at Work - Ethics, Shmethics, so Long as I Get Paid:

Enjoy! *

Monday, November 9, 2009

Notes from The Big Sit!

What a great time I had on Friday night! From 11 PM on Friday until 3 AM on Saturday, I sat in one of the windows at ABC Carpet and Home as part of the Interdependence Project's 24 Hour Meditation Marathon. (I'm not in the picture on the left––still haven't found one with my face in it.) And thanks to my amazing supporters, I raised over $1,100 to support the ID Project's programs. (Finally tally isn't done just yet.)

I discovered a few things that really surprised me:

1. I didn't fall asleep. I was worried that I'd fall asleep, that people would come by at 2:30 AM and see me slumped over. But for some reason I didn't. We had breaks every 30-45 minutes, but I never even found myself tired.

2. My legs didn't hurt nearly as much as I'd suspected they would.

3. A lot of people passing by apparently thought that the sheet of glass that separated us was also an impenetrable sound barrier. From time to time I found myself giggling at the comments, or getting angry at them, or both. But I was generally able to come back to my breath without a whole lot of judgment.

4. A lot of people watching us honestly seemed to think we were mannequins and were shocked when one of us would adjust our postures, blink, or breathe.

5. I left ABC at 3 AM feeling energized and excited.

In any case, it was a great, fun experience, and I'd do it again in a second! Thanks so much to all my supporters and to the ID Project for letting me be a part of it.

Jon *

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Charter for Compassion - unveiling November 12th!

Thanks so much to Aimee Mullins who clued me in to the upcoming launch of the Charter for Compassion. The Charter was wished for by religious scholar Karen Armstrong, as her Ted Prize, in 2008. It comes out of Armstrong's observation that every religion, without exception, shares a central tenet:
"The Charter will proclaim a principle embraced by every faith, and by every moral code. It is often referred to as The Golden Rule....The Golden Rule requires that we use empathy -- moral imagination -- to put ourselves in others' shoes. We should act toward them as we would want them to act toward us. We should refuse, under any circumstance, to carry out actions which would cause them harm."
Check out Armstrong's speech wherein she made her wish:

Here are a few highlights from her speech:
'What I've found, across the board, is that religion is about behaving differently. Instead of deciding whether or not you believe in God, first you to do something. You behave in a committed way, And then you begin to understand the truths of religion. And religious doctrines are meant to be summons to action; you only understand them when you put them into practice.

Now, pride of place in this practice is given to compassion. And it is an arresting fact that right across the board, in every single one of the major world faiths, compassion -- the ability to feel with the other in the way we've been thinking about this evening -- is not only the test of any true religiosity, it is also what will bring us into the presence of what Jews, Christians and Muslims call "God" or the "Divine." It is compassion, says the Buddha, which brings you to Nirvana. Why? Because in compassion, when we feel with the other, we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there. And once we get rid of ego, then we're ready to see the Divine.

So the traditions also insisted -- and this is an important point, I think -- that you could not and must not confine your compassion to your own group: your own nation, your own co-religionists, your own fellow countrymen. You must have what one of the Chinese sages called "jian ai": concern for everybody. Love your enemies. Honor the stranger. We formed you, says the Qur'an, into tribes and nations so that you may know one another.'
And here's an extraordinary video teaching us about the Charter:


Please go to to learn more about the Charter, and to find out how you can get involved in spreading compassion throughout the world. *