Compassion or Idiot Compassion?



I would love to kiss you, the price of kissing is your life. Now my loving is running after my life, shouting, what a bargain, let’s buy it!

This poem by Rumi, the 11th century mystic, is about an ego death, when we lose ourselves in love for all the right reasons; when it’s no longer about my life or your life, but loving life itself.

Yet sometimes we confuse this tremendous passion for how me imagine we are suppose to act.  When passion is infused wisdom it is called compassion. When passion is confused with how “I should be good” it’ called idiot compassion…and I had a really bad case of it!

The Rumi poem and writing above are the first lines from a TedxBoulder talk I’m giving in on Sat, Sept. 27, 5-9.  Please click on the link and come if you are in town. Otherwise it will be published about a week later on Youtube.

Hope to see you there!!!




Generosity on this Path of Love

Chinese Statue at Wat Arun, Bangkok

Chinese Statue at Wat Arun, Bangkok

Together on this path of love, we can try to make a small difference in someone’s life.  What else is there to do?

Sister Chan Khong


I’m in China this month studying and practicing at Putuoshan, an island dedicated to Guanyin since the last millennium.  My husband and I received generous scholarships from a Chinese and American organization and are grateful for the opportunity to share our experience when we return.


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The Lady Buddha: beyond all construct

In Vietnam she’s the Lady Buddha. In Taiwan temples, she’s often the central deity.  These firsthand discoveries inspired further research on Guanyin and the title of my upcoming book, The Female Buddha: Discovering the Heart of Liberation and Love.

When I share these simple experiences from traveling overseas, my friends are delighted to hear the news of a fully empowered image of the awakened feminine.  It’s time we receive this celebrated transmission from cultures seeped in the Buddhist tradition.

Why?  For the same reason young girls need positive images of female doctors, construction workers and world leaders.  And why boys need positive images of male nurses, househusbands and ballet masters.  So they believe they can.

We need to know we can. We can embrace the aspiration of freedom from suffering, the aspiration of the clear seeing and the aspiration of an open heart.  We need to see it can happen in this body, in this lifetime.

Advertisers understand the not-so-subtle psychological message of a gender image.  They overwhelmingly conform to the use of stereotyped social constructs to sell goods and maintain profit margins.  The basic tenets of Buddhism ask us to see through all mental constructs to the nature of our mind…that which is without prejudice or construct…Mind that is like the clear blue sky.

Opening to diverse possibilities is like immersing yourself in a foreign country.  We gain a broader perspective of what is possible in our lives and our communities. Ways of being are challenged and minds are blown open.  Experiencing a female Buddha is a Zen koan.  What does she mean in my life?

When looking for Quan Am (Guanyin) in Cholon, the Chinese district of Ho Chi Minh, we asked strangers for directions.  Those who spoke some English would excitedly punctuate their words, “Oh, you mean the female Buddha?” or “The lady Buddha? She’s that way.”  She has entered the common vernacular of the people.

Later we would meet both men and women who shared tremendous enthusiasm for their personal deity, Quan Am.  In the pouring rain during our four days in Hue, I tried to capture a decent shot of her several hundred foot tall figure overlooking the hills of the city.  Unsuccessful, I could only marvel at the distant image blessing her community with equanimity.

The Bodhisattva’s symbolic resurgence in these large statues sprinkled across Vietnam follows years of devastating loss and death in a country torn by war.  The faith of many unshaken, her image represents the perennial flowering of Buddha Nature, the truth of our basic goodness beyond all constructs.