Compassion In Action Network
The Compassion In Action Network is a movement and community of young people working to create a happy, just, and flourishing world. Students and youth have always been at the forefront of social change, and today’s rising generation knows that our challenges are interconnected and that we need both inner changes at the personal level as well as outer changes in our communities and world. In partnership with people across the United States and Canada, we are growing a network of next-generation leaders who live and act compassionately for the benefit of all.
We live in one of the most critical moments in human history, facing challenges and opportunities like no previous generation. It is a time that is calling us to transform ourselves as we actively engage with others in the healing of our world.
While this may be a challenging time to be young and alive, our generation also has many privileges and gifts, including access to time-honored wisdom, traditions, and practices.
How Did the Compassion in Action Network Begin?
The founding of the Namchak Foundation was the first crucial step in developing this Network. After Lama Tsomo experienced the benefits of the Namchak tradition and its practices, she co-founded the Namchak Foundation, an educational organization dedicated to sharing and preserving the practices and teachings of the Namchak lineage, one of the oldest forms of Tibetan Buddhist practice.
As a college student, Lama Tsomo searched to no avail for a contemplative program that could guide her to her larger purpose in the world. Her search for meaning led her to the Namchak tradition. After years of practice, study, becoming an ordained Lama, and co-founding the Namchak Foundation, she and a dedicated team created the Compassion in Action Network to allow students to explore their purpose in the world. Lama Tsomo hopes this program can lessen the suffering of and pressure on college students today.
The Compassion in Action Network intends to provide young adults access to ancient Buddhist practices and contemporary tools to help them navigate the challenges of the modern world. It was created to encourage students to develop rich relationships with their peers and develop communities of changemakers who want to create a more compassionate and peaceful planet. Young adults learn tangible practices for developing insight, wisdom, and ease, so they can enter the world ready to make change.
The three components of Compassion in Action Network, the Fellowship, Campus Chapters, and the Summer Immersion Program, provide college students with avenues to explore what it is they want to do in the world and who they want to be. Navigating this exploration in the community with other students and mentors provides support and encouragement for each individual’s journey.
The Compassion in Action Fellowship
The Compassion in Action Fellowship is a yearlong inner and outer change journey that supports undergraduate and graduate students, ages 18 to 25, in learning meditation practice, building community, and promoting social change. Applications for our 2023 – 2024 Fellowship are now open.
With the support of Namchak’s staff, Compassion in Action Fellows will establish or carry on the leadership of a Namchak Student Chapter on their campus to engage with other students in learning and practicing meditation, building community, and creating meaningful social change.
Fellows will be supported in forming a team on their campus to launch or sustain their chapter and organize regular meditation practice circles, social events, and team meetings. Chapters will also decide on ways to engage in social change efforts as a way to create happier and healthier campuses and a more just and compassionate world.
Compassion in Action Fellowship Curriculum
Fellowship chapters usually meet once per week for the duration of a semester and cover the following topics:
- Orientation and Introductions: Meditation Practice and Mindful Breathing
- Sangha and Meditation: Introduction to Meditation Practice and the Science of Meditation
- Shamata (Calm Abiding): Seven Point Posture and the Stages of Shamata Practice
- Tonglen Meditation Practice
- Round Robin Meditation
- Personal leadership skills from the Academy for the Love of Learning®.
Who is the Compassion in Action Fellowship For?
Students aged 18 – 25 attending colleges and universities in the United States and Canada who are committed to creating inner and outer change. The next Fellowship will last from June 2023 to May 2024.
What Students Are Saying
– Jordyn, 2022-2023 Fellow
– Isabeau, 2022-2023 Fellow
The Summer Immersion Program
Starting in July 2023, Namchak will offer a four-week retreat-style experience: part study, part meditation retreat, and part environmental stewardship near Hot Springs, Montana. This program is for people ages 18-25 to learn meditation practices, build meaningful community, explore social change models, and engage in contemplative practices relating to land stewardship — including permaculture farming. The Summer Immersion Program is part of the Compassion in Action Network, which aims to bring contemplative practices to young people to help them live with more ease, joy, and presence.
Overview of the Compassion in Action Network Curriculum
Students learn from Tibetan scholars and Western teachers and receive support from a vibrant community. The curriculum is a dynamic blend of ancient and modern wisdom tools and practices. Our “personal, community, world” approach is designed to support leadership and social change in a way that is responsive to the unique challenges of the 21st century. Engaged Buddhism is an integral part of this network and all of its programming.
The Compassion in Action Network is rooted in the ideal of inner and outer change. As we wake up and transform within, we tap into the energy and motivation to help others. In helping others and working to heal our world, we deepen our own personal healing and liberation. They become mutually reinforcing practices, and together, we unlock the power of compassion in action to transform our world.
The term “engaged Buddhism” or “socially engaged Buddhism” refers to the active involvement of Buddhists in society and its problems. It originated with Thich Nhat Hanh during the Vietnam War and efforts to end suffering. Today there is a wide range of Buddhist, meditation, and mindfulness groups harnessing the inner power of meditation with the outer power of engaging in social change. They engage in a wide range of actions, including efforts to help address climate change, and environmental destruction, end mass incarceration, and eliminate all forms of economic and health disparity.
As you engage in meditation practice and build community in your Learning Circles, your chapter will also be invited to identify meaningful ways to direct your compassion in action for the benefit of others. As we awaken together and take action together, we have the power to truly transform our world.
Meditation Practices Students Learn in the Compassion in Action Network
The practices we share are part of the Namchak tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are hundreds of branches, or lineages, associated with different regions and monasteries. These lineages can be traced back through Guru Rinpoche, who established Buddhism in Tibet, and to the Buddha, who began it all in India more than two and a half millennia ago.
Shamata (Calm Abiding) Meditation
On the Buddhist path, Calm Abiding serves as the foundation for all other practices. It is a technique used to develop our power of attention and bring our coarse and subtle thoughts to a restful state. In other words, it is resting or abiding in that peaceful state. We get a mini vacation from that chasing! Calm abiding can bring a powerful level of calm to the mind, so much so that one can rest for long periods of time without the slightest stirring of thoughts or emotions. Try 10 minutes of Shamata HERE.
Tonglen is a Tibetan form of compassion practice that’s used in different forms in all of the lineages of the Dharma. Within Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism) there are many sub-branch lineages, all of which practice Tonglen, but as with many of the practices, they vary a bit from one to another. The word Tonglen means “sending and receiving” in Tibetan. In this practice, we basically imagine breathing in the suffering of others and breathing out our wish for them to be happy.
Try a six-minute Tonglen practice HERE.
Round Robin Practice
This practice is a combination of other practices on this list.
Listen to a short introduction to the practice from Lama Tsomo and try a combination of Shatama and Tonglen HERE.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness, or Metta, is one of the Four Boundless Qualities. This practice teaches us to tap into our pure, natural goodness and feelings of warm affection for ourselves and then share them with all sentient beings. Try a seven-minute Loving Kindness practice HERE.
How Meditation Can Be Helpful for Students and Youth
The college years can be a rich time full of new experiences, adventures, and a highly stressful time. Most students are faced with deciding what to do with the rest of their lives, which is a huge decision with lifelong implications. In addition, students are expected to make that decision while juggling school, work, and relationships, individuating from their families, and learning how to navigate the world with increased independence. It’s a lot all at once. Meditation practice can bring a sense of peace to the hustle of these impactful years.
While most contemporary mindfulness techniques originate from Buddhism, today, people from all religious backgrounds—and no religious background—practice meditation. Why? Because they see the benefits in the form of decreased stress, enhanced creativity, better focus, and improved relationships with other people and with their inner selves.
What Students Will Learn through the Compassion in Action Network
At Namchak, we use three lenses to look at how we can make a difference in the world: Personal, Community, and World. Below are some of the skills students will gain within each sphere:
- Personal Vision & Values
- Critical Thinking
- Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
- Deeper Connection to One’s Life Purpose
- Healthy Living, Self-Care, and Well-Being Practices
- Shared Leadership and Group Facilitation
- Conflict Resolution and Effective Communication
- Giving and Receiving Feedback
- Working Skillfully with Projections
- Anti-Oppression and Collective Liberation
- Generating Collective Wisdom
- Collaboration and Team Building World
- Community Organizing
- Outreach and Event Planning
- Global Citizenship
- Ecological Awareness
- Systems Thinking
- Social Networking
- Creative Problem-Solving
- Goal-Setting & Project Planning
Compassion in Action Chapters are campus- and community-based groups of young people who engage in meditation practice, community building, and social change. Chapters host weekly Learning Circles, social events, and team meetings that foster opportunities to help create a more compassionate and connected world.
- Compassion in Action Pepperdine – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action UC Berkeley – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action Western Washington University – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action University of Montana Missoula – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action University of Chicago – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action James Madison University – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action Temple University – Learning Circle
- Compassion in Action Bard College – Learning Circle
Meet Compassion in Action Alumni Jordyn
Meet Compassion in Action Alumni Yulie
Meet Compassion in Action Alumni Ysrael