Friday, January 16, 2009


I have been reading a book that is a discussion between psychologist Paul Ekman and HH the Dalai Lama, Emotional Awareness. Of course the discussion touches on compassion often. I think yesterday's plane in the Hudson, the horror most of us feel about plane crashes, the perfection of the landing and the very rapid rescue of all aboard illustrates one of the D.L.'s points that we feel compassion for others we do not know and are uplifted when we hear of others' heroism. I'm 100% positive many people felt the many emotions I felt as I heard about the event: terror of those in the plane, panic about getting out, misery wading onto the partly submerged wing standing in that freezing river water, relief and joy at the immediate response of boat operators and awe and admiration for the pilot and for the crew that helped people evacuate.

So much news inspires feelings of horror or terror, sometimes anger or disgust; those become emotions that are too familiar to us. These feelings that cascaded through many people yesterday as they saw the events, I think have a positive effect, at least for a little while. Compassion is one of the emotions, understanding how those people felt [suffered, in the D.L.'s language] and then rejoicing with them. It uplifts our because we have the innate capacity to recognize the feelings of other people and share what they experience. We are connected through that ability and the connection is a positive we need and want to experience often. I think that is much of the reason many people are moved by the Dalai Lama's teachings.

1 comment :

Joyce said...

Yes, it was so wonderful and you are right, uplifting, that those people all got out. I know 9-11 made that kind of impact for me. I only understood the East Coast, New Yorkers, from books and movies, caricatures really, until I saw into them through the news and interviews after the tragedy. It worked the same way that traveling does, it's easy to not really think about the people in an area, but when you meet them, you really "see" them. I am so glad that the Plane in the Hudson story is such a positive one, each of those people is with their friends and family tonight, and I'm sure very thankful.