Does practising love & compassion for people close to me ripple out to those suffering far away?

A student writes:

With heart full of sadness and love for the suffering people in Ukraine, I read your Losar message. If I try to spread love and compassion around me for the people in my life, does this have a ripple effect to help send love to those who are suffering far away from me? Are we all more connected than we realise? I hope so.

Lama Shenpen responds:

The thing to do is make a wishing prayer (pranidhana) as you spread love and compassion around you that this will also help the people caught up in the terrible events that are unfolding in Ukraine. Whenever you hear of any goodness and kindness that people show to one another, dedicate it for the benefit of all beings – that all beings receive such kindness and learn to give it to others. 

Whenever you enjoy anything in this life, really appreciate it and make the wish that others should have these joys too – the joy of living in a safe place with a roof over your head, enough to eat and drink, comfortable and clean and free to come and go as you will. All this can be a trigger for wishing this for all beings and in particular for those suffering from the atrocities in Ukraine. 

We can make pranidhanas too for all the people being killed and for we can make pranidhanas that we will be able to help each other through all our future lives, to bring all beings to Awakening. 

The fact we are all in the same world at the same time and we know what is happening to other people means we all have a karmic connection – so whatever pranidhanas we make for them will be especially effective.  Even those we have a bad connection with have a karmic connection with us and so our prayers for them will be especially effective. 

So, keep making pranidhanas so that our sadness and horror at what is happening is transformed into positive energy that will reverberate throughout the world. There will be a ripple effect – even an immediate effect – although what the immediate outcome of events will be depends on so many conditions, we might be disappointed.

Nevertheless, in our hearts we are all so profoundly connected – space and time do not come into it. We really can be there with them and all beings and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas simply by our focusing our attention on them. So, keep your spirits up!  

Lama Shenpen Hookham

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