Robina Courtin: The Meaning of Life — A Bird Needs Two Wings

IMG_20191220_154228Excellence Reporter: Ven. Courtin, what is the meaning of life?

Robina Courtin: There’s a saying in Buddhism that a bird needs two wings: wisdom and compassion.

Compassion is the point, but, as the Dalai Lama says, compassion is not enough; we need wisdom.

What’s wisdom?

That’s the work we do on ourselves to lessen our own fear, attachment, anger, depression and the rest. We realise that these debilitating voices of ego are what drag us down, hold us back, create barriers between ourself and others. With this inner work — becoming our own therapists, as one Tibetan monk puts it — we just naturally become more content, more confident, more clear.

We now realise that we’re all in the same boat: we see the same pain in everyone and want to reach out to help — to develop the compassion wing. But not only do we want to help, the degree to which we have broken down those artificial barriers is the degree to which we can now actually help.

Wisdom and compassion together: for our sake and the sake of others.


~Ordained since the late 1970s, Robina Courtin has worked full time since then for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s FPMT. Over the years she has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala magazine, executive director of  Liberation Prison Project, and as a touring teacher of Buddhism. Her life and work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom.

Copyright © 2019 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Buddhism

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