Economics, Engagement, and Exploitation in Ladakh

Helena Norberg-Hodge

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There can be no compassion without wisdom. Indeed Buddhism teaches that wisdom and compassion are the two wings of the bird of enlightenment. By nurturing a compassionate heart which supports and is supported by an awareness that all “things” are empty of inherent existence, we can transcend our narrow sense of self and experience ourselves not as limited static entities but as part of a web of relationships. Few have combined compassion and wisdom with the brilliance of the great ninth-century Buddhist sage Shantideva, who taught that all the joy that exists in the world comes from wishing for the happiness of other sentient beings, and all misery from narrow egotism. To the extent that we care only for ourselves, he assured us, our lives will be filled with suffering. Could this, the heart of Buddhist teaching, ever be more relevant than it is today?

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