New York (USA): A Side Event was co-organized by the Brahma Kumaris, the Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Advocacy, the Unspoken Smiles Foundation, and the International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations, New York.
The side event — with a refreshing approach — took place with four storytellers getting together for a workshop to address inequalities and challenges to social inclusion using compassion as a tool, calling everyone to be Compassion In Action (CIA) agents.
So, what is compassion? As moderator, BK Sabita Geer, NGO representative of the Brahma Kumaris, stated, “It is a feeling that comes from deep within. Compassion generates love, kindness and support without boundaries; it is something to be felt and experienced individually.”
What made this event stand out was that after each storyteller, there was a minute of silence during which two questions were suggested for reflection. There was also an opportunity to share with each other using compassionate listening. A beautifully designed workbook was given to each participant to use.
The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization storyteller, BK Kinnari Murthy, shared a true story of a man that changed his own life and the lives of many. One light was ignited and then many more followed. Inner conscience is to be nurtured but, as we grow, we overwrite our inner voice. Meditation is the tool to sit back and listen to ourselves, and reconnect to our inner conscience.
In the words of this first storyteller: “In the midst of so many sessions discussing various ways to find solutions to social inequalities, it was in a Conference Room with a diverse group of people who had come together having realized and understood that compassion in action is the means for building a coherent society.”
True stories from panelists were inspiring; they shared that various acts of compassion are rather acts of greatness. One person shared the life-transforming story of Pancham Singh, who was a dacoit (roving bandit) but changed to become a mentor for many. “He was awakened when he realized that peace is everything and love is the law; he nourished his conscience by stepping in and listening to his core values. We are all agents of compassion and each one of us can make a difference in the world. It doesn’t take any money. All it needs is one thought, an awareness to hold, an attitude to share, and an action of care.”
The Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Advocacy storyteller, Valerie Still, President of the Institute, talked about implicit biases and how we have to go beyond them. With all the smart phones on hands and bombarded with so much negativity, the youth have to be reminded of their powerful potential, to learn compassion for themselves — being kind to self and others — and feel the ripple effect. It needs a pledge to themselves, to be their best contact and turn on their power to be CIA agents. “I dream, I am, I lead, I rise” is a powerful quote from the Student Leadership Summit for youth.
In the words of this storyteller: “As president of the Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Advocacy (CBJ), I would like to thank the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization for inviting me to be a panel storyteller for the side event, “Compassion in Action: Building a Coherent Society” during the UN 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development. The CBJ Institute utilizes some of the tools and practices taught by the Brahma Kumaris with our Youth Leadership Summits, which aim to empower our youth by: 1) making them aware that they are stars, pure energy with unlimited potential 2) making them aware of the power of their thoughts and 3) encouraging them to change the world by connecting to others with compassion … become CIA agents, Compassion in Action agents.
The feedback from the attendees was powerful and useful. One attendee noted that “compassion is actually a skill that needs to be taught, learned and practiced. One of the aspects that could have increased the impact of the session would have been more time spent in actual ‘practicing’ the skill of compassion, giving attendees an experience, and not just theory and stories. People want to do good and want a loving and caring environment, but just don’t know how they can make a change with so much negativity in the world. Those who attended the event did get an experience and felt Divine wonder and power.”
The Unspoken Smiles Foundation storyteller, Dr. Jean Paul Laurent, Founder and CEO of the Foundation, said that he knows firsthand what it means to not have a respectful life. He talked about his experience growing up in Haiti as a turbulent kid who got in trouble with school and how moving to the US and having a second chance made him want to be a role model for kids in his country of origin. Getting people and companies on board, he raised money to go back and help with children’s dental health, as they believe that behind every smile there is an untold story, but also with focusing on behavioral change. Functioning in 7 countries helping over 7,000 children, they believe that giving food is not compassion; sitting on the floor and eating with the children is.
The BK delegation included Kinnari Murthy, Nidhi Shukla, Karen Perusse, Valerie Still, Nik Lal, Bhrugu Yagnik, Sabita Geer, Vivian Pappas, Yuritzi Govea, and Namrata Shah.
Words of Compassion from the Famous:
- Compassion is an action word with no boundaries – Prince
- Listen with ears of tolerance, see with eyes of compassion, and speak the language of love – Rumi
- When we practice loving kindness and compassion, we are the first one to profit – Rumi
- The inspiration to serve emerges when a soul has 3 qualities – mercy, compassion, and true love – Dadi Janki