How to be Good?

Bitesize: Creating Community

January 11, 2021 Sarah Buckmaster Season 1 Episode 3
Bitesize: Creating Community
How to be Good?
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How to be Good?
Bitesize: Creating Community
Jan 11, 2021 Season 1 Episode 3
Sarah Buckmaster

This first Bitesize Episode* focuses on Creating Community

We can choose to be in community with whoever is around us at the time – the people at our local shop, those in the road when we’re out for a walk. Whoever is around us is our community so let's connect with them.

Connecting with, supporting and caring for others is a theme that came out strongly in recent "How to be Good?" interviews. It's something that both a Jewish Rabbi in the UK, and a Buddhist Abbot in India not only agreed upon, but highlighted as one of the most important things in leading a life of goodness, in being happy, and just in feeling and doing good in this world.

*In Bitesize Episodes, we’re going to take a few minutes to focus on a theme, topic, or piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews. We'll talk about how we can put advice from our interviews to practical use in our daily life.

Show Notes Transcript

This first Bitesize Episode* focuses on Creating Community

We can choose to be in community with whoever is around us at the time – the people at our local shop, those in the road when we’re out for a walk. Whoever is around us is our community so let's connect with them.

Connecting with, supporting and caring for others is a theme that came out strongly in recent "How to be Good?" interviews. It's something that both a Jewish Rabbi in the UK, and a Buddhist Abbot in India not only agreed upon, but highlighted as one of the most important things in leading a life of goodness, in being happy, and just in feeling and doing good in this world.

*In Bitesize Episodes, we’re going to take a few minutes to focus on a theme, topic, or piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews. We'll talk about how we can put advice from our interviews to practical use in our daily life.

[Podcast Theme Music: upbeat electro/beats]

Sarah Buckmaster [0:03]
Hi everyone, I'm Sarah and this is "How to be Good?" - the podcast that explores what it means to be a good person in today's world.

 [Podcast Theme Music]

 Sarah Buckmaster  [00:14]
Now as you may know from the introduction, this podcast is a combination of interviews and bitesize episodes. This is the first bitesize edition. In these, we’re going to take a few minutes to focus on a theme or a topic, or a piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews and we’re going to spend a few minutes to see if we can put it to practical use in our daily life.

[00:41]
For this bitesize episode, I want to focus on a theme that came out strongly in both of my recent interviews – this is something that both a Jewish Rabbi in the UK, and a Buddhist Abbot in India agreed upon, and they both highlighted this as one of the most important things in leading a life of goodness, in being happy, and just in feeling and doing good in this world.

[01:03]
It’s no surprise that it’s all about connection – so for the next few minutes, I’m focusing on creating community! 

Buddhist Abbot, Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering
“[…] you have to interact with a society, with the community, with a real world.”

Sarah Buckmaster [01:16]
Now, there were many subtle differences between the Jewish and Buddhist belief-systems. If you’ve listened to the previous two episodes (which I really recommend), you’ll notice these differences in the two interviews. 

[01:28]
For example, within Judaism, the emphasis on actions is strong, and as Rabbi Elli explained, intention is kind of irrelevant. 

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
“But it doesn't really matter what I intended to do. If the impact of it is something negative and hurtful, that's all that matters.” 

Sarah Buckmaster [01:46]
Whereas within Buddhist teachings, there was a more gentle difference. it is a goal to work towards matching your actions to your intentions, but the important thing is to have the right intention

Buddhist Abbot, Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering
“The Buddha and also subsequently Buddhist teachers, talk a lot about our intentions will all have impact to our actions. But initial impact might be quite small, but if we follow those positive intentions with action again and again, eventually you're able to act according to your intention. But very often, you will fail [bursting into laughter]” 

Sarah Buckmaster [02:34]
So, the difference wasn’t really conflicting, just varying, with this different emphasis about where to put your energy. 

BUT there was one area where both Rabbi Elli and Geshe Tashi strongly agreed that we should be putting our energy – one common thread between the two interviews that came out really strongly. And that was the emphasis on caring for others, connecting with others, supporting others.

Buddhist Abbot, Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering
“[..] as a human nature, we are social beings. So therefore, you know, try to support whatever you can. Try to support others. That "others" doesn't need to be huge number - it can be just one person.”

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah  [03:17]
“And it's little things. We've seen it during the coronavirus crisis, haven't we? That people have been more neighbourly, have been more aware of the people in this street. And there has been that kind of consciousness of the need to connect, and it's about developing that and being concerned.” 

Sarah Buckmaster [03:34]
They even used the same example when illustrating this point in our conversation – they both had this image of a stranger in the street, either being lost or needing help.

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
And one of the main things is that when you see somebody who's got a different kind of skin than yours, or looks different in whatever way, instead of just rushing past them, smile at them and smile at people when you're going along. I always say good morning to people. I'm very old fashioned. I go for a walk every morning. I'm always saying hello; some people don't say good morning to me but I don't let that bother me. I will say good morning to everyone. And in particular, if you see somebody who's a little bit different, you might think that they possibly are finding it quite difficult walking around today because other people can be unkind. So, you smile - smile and say hello. That can make a big difference to people's day

Buddhist Abbot, Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering
Whatever you can, it doesn't need to be huge, big support, it can be just showing the person who is lost in the street or whatever. Really trying to, with the joy and with this sort of sense of full awareness, try to support others.

Sarah Buckmaster [04:46]
Now, this need to connect and support each other is something we’ve all seen so apparent during the covid pandemic and so it’s a no-brainer that it’s the focus of this first bitesize episode of the How to be Good podcast.

I’m going to keep this really short as we head towards a New Year… because I feel that we can simply take this one point from both interviews and ask ourselves: “what’s one thing I can do this month – today, tomorrow, this week - to connect with someone?” It can be just saying hello to someone in the street as Rabbi Elli suggested, smiling at whoever we walk past… and I just want to say, it doesn’t matter what people say, you can 100% tell when someone is smiling behind a mask…

[05:25]
Most importantly, let’s see how different the world looks if we invite everyone around us to be part of our community. Loneliness is a pain experienced by many people around the world at all times, and during winter or around holidays like Christmas it is often more severe so let’s invite those around us into our community – and that’s whoever is around us. 

 The key take-home message is that we can choose to be in community with whoever is around us at the time – so, the people at the local shop, those in the road when we’re out for a walk… even when stuck in traffic, we can choose to see our fellow car drivers as enemies or allies because (as that famous bumper sticker reminds us) “we’re not stuck in traffic, we are the traffic”. This is our community.

[06:13]
So, as we go into this winter season, raise your eyes and let’s all commit to greeting one person we wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Our challenge this month – as the How to be Good community – is to create community with a stranger – for just a second… in whichever way we know stretches us. And, most importantly – enjoy testing this out. To give the final words to Geshe Tashi:

Buddhist Abbot, Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering
“So, my answer to your question is, enjoy the moment”

Sarah Buckmaster [06:46]
Thank you for listening – wishing you all a Happy December, a Happy New Year and a Happy Community-Creating experience – whatever that looks like for you.

And, if you enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more episodes and interviews exploring the question of what it means to be a good person in today’s world, then please consider hitting the subscribe button – and if you have time and liked what you heard then I’d love you to leave a review and share with your friends – I’m in the early stages of this podcast , very much learning as I go and so any help and support is appreciated more than you can imagine!  

Thank you for listening - and if you have any questions or suggestions, please email me anytime at sarah@howtobegood.co.uk. I’d love to hear from you!  

[Podcast Theme Music, fades out]

 

Transcribed by Sarah Buckmaster