Individual choices affect society at broader level: Karmapa

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) Choices made by individuals affect society at a broader level, observed Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, while stressing that interdependence was a reality and a practical way of looking at the world.

Speaking at the launch of his book “The Heart is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out” here Tuesday, the Karmapa said an awareness of interdependence among people, and impact on others and the planet should be a cause for increase in love and compassion.

“It can keep us aware of the impact our actions have on others and on the planet. If we connect to others and to the planet with love and affection, our responsibility to bring about change does not have to weigh heavily on us at all,” he said.

He said interdependence was a reality and a “practical way of looking at our existence”.

He said individual concerns such as happiness and suffering depend on happiness and suffering of others.

“Individual concerns are, in fact, shared concerns. We need to understand this. It entails sense of personal responsibility to one another. Our choices as individuals, in fact, affect society at much broader level,” the Karmapa said.

Citing the growing number of vehicles in Delhi, he said though the decision to purchase a vehicle is regarded as the choice of individual consumer, its impact extends far beyond.

“Individual choices affect society. Fact of interrelatedness has direct relevance to our lives as consumers,” he said.

The Karmapa said it was important to take into account hardships of others and to have empathy for them.

He said his book was not contrived from intelligence but was an outcome of his experience of struggles, hardships and sufferings of people he meets.

Speaking on the occasion, social activist Aruna Roy said there was a need to increase tolerance in the society.

Describing the book as “extremely valuable”, she said it was vital to recognise interdependence among people as it would promote equity.

Environmental activist Vandana Shiva said the book was useful for Indian youth who were “so high on consumerism”.

Emphasising the need to understand interdependence, she said fragmented identities were behind “so much violence in our society”.

“It is all about manufactured identities being put as real and causing problem,” Shiva said.

Author and former diplomat Pawan K. Varma said there was a need to create a more concerned and caring society.

He said state authorities loath to share power and non-government organisations often face cumbersome procedures, time delays and administrative hurdles in their work.

“Spirituality must nurture compassion, which should create awareness, which should lead to action in right direction in right areas,” he said.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, is the spiritual head of one of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Born to nomadic parents in rural Tibet, he was identified as a heir to leadership position of the sect while still a young boy.

He escaped to India in 2000 from Tibet at the age of 14 and resides at Gyuto monastery near Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh.

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