Today, I read in an otherwise mundane news article that an old acquaintance of mine was killed in an avalanche near Cooke City. I have read many articles like this, but most of the time the names are not familiar, and I end up reading the news with very little care. The horrific details are all too soon forgotten. However, this time the name was one that I knew, and the piece took on some deeper meaning. We were not close friends, rather we were work colleagues that hung out a bit after work on occasion. Upon reading the article and seeing his name, I began to think about the fortunate fact that I am still here among the living. How amazing is it that I am able to experience the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley or hear the faint ship notes from a pair of American Tree Sparrows. There is so much to experience, and there is so much work that needs done. I am not talking about tasks at the old 9 to 5, but real work. The work that everyone needs to do within themselves, and the good deeds that we must engage in for the benefit of others.
It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. There are two aspects to action. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefitting others, one needs to be engaged, involved.
– H.H. Dalai Lama