October 3 2019

Thanking India for sharing its culture

Western countries haves been inspired by India’s diverse spiritualities and ancestral traditions for centuries. Today, many people benefit from this heritage, which contributes to the well-being and personal growth of each and everyone.

The origin of Karuna-Schechen

In a valley in Kathmandu in 1996, a father and his son talk about Buddhism and its expansion in the West. The conversations between Matthieu Ricard and Jean-François Revel are transcribed in a book, The Monk and the Philosopher, whose success opens deep questioning as to the use of copyrights revenues.

Matthieu Ricard,  author, photographer, and interpreter to the Dalai Lama, chooses to put altruism into action by devoting his share to a social cause. While the Dalai Lama encourages the Buddhist community to give a human dimension to their actions, Matthieu Ricard is also inspired by Rabjam Rinpotché, the abbot of the Schechen Monastery, who wanted to undertake charitable projects; and by his spiritual master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpotché, who wanted to set up a clinic near the monastery.

From these inspirations came the idea of a humanitarian organization that would help exiled Tibetans and populations of the host countries, especially in India and Nepal. Inspired by compassion in action, Matthieu Ricard, helped by a few benefactors, set up Karuna-Shechen in 2000. Projects were initiated in Tibet and clinics were built in Bodhnath, a suburb of Kathmandu, and in Bodhgaya, India. Today, with the desire to help as many people as possible, the organization supports development projects in Tibet, Nepal and North India, benefiting more than 380,000 people each year.

Shared values

Since its inception, altruism, benevolence, and compassion have been at the heart of Karuna-Shechen. So that they may be more than words, the organization  set up an advocacy program in parallel with its actions on the ground to promote these values throughout the world.

These humanist qualities are also at the heart of other traditions and spiritualities born in the East. Yoga in particular aims to unite body and mind while promoting an altruistic approach: karma yoga for example, which is based on one of the fundamental writings of Hinduism, calls itself the yoga of unselfish acts and of detachment from their benefits. On top of asanas (positions), it is a question that includes an ethical component by insisting on respect, both for oneself and for others.

To give their practice an altruistic dimension, some teachers invite participants to focus on an intention at the beginning of class – just like meditation, a training of the spirit now shared by India and the West, and which puts compassion at the center of its practice.

Yoga For Karuna: Expressing Gratitude towards India

The West has been greatly inspired by Eastern knowledge and traditions, especially yoga, alternative medicines, meditation, and Buddhism. These approaches nourish our lifestyles and allow practitioners to improve their stress management, flexibility, physical, and mental well-being. Many of us welcome with gratitude all that India has passed on to Western countries.

At the crossroads of two cultures, Karuna-Shechen acts as a bridge between India and the West, between donors and beneficiaries, between human beings and their stories. Thanks to the generous contributions of our donors, we work with compassion to help and provide care to more than 235,000 people in India each year.

Yoga For Karuna is an altruistic movement dedicated to the development of these projects. Yoga lovers from all over the world are invited to unite in a spirit of shared energy, organizing and taking part in solidarity classes on a donation basis. To thank India for its heritage and participate in its development, everyone can contribute by giving what they can, and thus put altruism into action.

In turn, share what you have received.

Support Yoga For Karuna.