Not to extend our natural compassion and kindness to others makes us a ‘world killer’ – says the 17th Karmapa

“One of the most important and tragic killer is the lack of compassion and kindness in our hearts.” We all have a natural feeling of kindness, a natural compassion. “But it seems that we can kind of turn it on and off.” If we don’t extend it to others, if we don’t nurture it, if we don’t break free from the prison of our self-centredness, we become ‘world killers’ – says the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje. 

When the 17th Karmapa gave that speech during his first visit to Europe in Berlin in 2014, I found it mind blowing and convincing alike. So much of the sufferings in this world come from a lack love and care, from a lack of extending our love and concerns to others and from continuing to be prisoners of our own selfishness and self-centredness. 

Of course, also the sufferings of those who have been abused in the context of Buddhadharma, their experiences of being left alone, ignored, defamed, gaslighted, ostracised, manipulated, bullied, shunned or accused as liars etc. are caused by that lack of extending loving and compassion to them. Also the deeds of the manipulative perpetrators are based on the lack of love and compassion. And also the communities and Sangha members, who enable the perpetrator to perform his harmful deeds and the victims to be harmed, acted because their kindness and compassion was turned off.

You can extend these thoughts to any place or any people in this world. Of course, including the history of racism and violence against black or native people in America or Australia, or South Africa, the Holocaust of the Germans … The whole history of brutal oppression, torture and violence is a history of a lack of kindness and and a lack of compassion.

So, what do we do to prevent that our natural kindness and compassion is blocked or does not extend to others?

“The most important thing is to try to extend that feeing of love and affection that we natural have.” (video below, minute 33:48)

“So in essence, that natural seed that we have of kindness and compassion, we need to nurture, need to take care, so that the fruit of that ripens and this is the most important thing. If we look in the history of the world, and especially into the history of this great nation of Germany, because of the lack of compassion, lots of very sad things happened. Take the example of World War I and World War II, Jewish Holocaust. All these things happened because of the lack of compassion. And this compassion and kindness and love is not something we don’t have. We all have it naturally within ourselves. But it seems that we can kind of turn it on and off. Sometimes we think that what is happening to some other people this is not my business. Only something that happens to my own friends, or my own brothers and sisters, then only I care. And if something bad is happening to other people we don’t care. We give up on them. This kind of cruelty or lack of compassion is one of the worst killers of the world.

One of the most important and tragic killer is the lack of compassion and kindness in our hearts. – 17th Karmapa

“There are several killers in this world, the diseases for instance like Malaria, the poverty is one of the main killers in the world, and then also pollutions, the water pollution, air pollution …, all those things are the killers of this world. But one of the most important and tragic killer is the lack of compassion and kindness in our hearts. If we had some more compassion or more kindness, I think, many lives could have been saved and we could get rid of lots of lots of problems of this world. But those things happened because we didn’t have that compassion or kindness.

“And this kindness and compassion is something very important for our own development, for our own happiness, and our survival. It is something we cannot do without. If we don’t have loving kindness then we will not survive as a good human being. And it is also the most important thing for helping others. So therefore, this compassion and kindness is something that is really necessary, something that we cannot do without in this world or the human society. That, I think, is very important.” (video below, from minute 38:54 onwards)

The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be. – 14th Dalai Lama

“If you ask anybody, maybe in this world, whether you would become a world killer, I am sure he or she would say ‘No, I don’t want to become a world killer!’ But sometimes, if we are not careful, without our wanting it, without knowing it, we can become a world killer. For instance, if we are too selfish, too self-centred, if we only care for ourselves, and if we don’t care for other people, then we have become the world killer. Therefore, we need to create, we need to increase our compassion and loving kindness. But this doesn’t happen just by pressure, just by making people scared, we need to develop this naturally. Our natural kindness, our natural compassion, that is already in us, we need to develop that, we need to increase it, we need to extend that.

“If I kind of give you an example, a kind of a story. Suppose there are two parents. These two parents have a son. And now these two parents are old and now this child, this young son, does some trouble, maybe breaking the law, and then this son goes into prison. And now, because the son goes into the prison, the parents are very worried, they are very unhappy and because of that they get sick and now they go into hospital. But there is none to look after them because the son is in the prison. In this way, because of our own selfishness and of our own self-centredness, too much of self-centredness and too much of selfishness, we are in the prison of our own creation. Our too much selfishness and self-centredness is the prison that we created ourselves. So we are in that prison. Our parents are outside [that prison]. Like all the sentient beings, our parents, are outside, there. They need you, they are waiting for you. But we cannot get out there because we are prisoned in our own prison of selfishness and self-centredness.

”So what we have to do is, to break that prison, the jail of our own selfishness. That is the most important thing.” (video below, from minute 46:47 onwards)