Ethics in the age of compassion [Note on Respect]

This is a musing on language, meditation and Dharma.

respect | rɪˈspɛkt |
noun
1 [mass noun] a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements: the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor.
• the state of being admired or respected: his first chance in over fifteen years to regain respect in the business.
• (respects) a person’s polite greetings: give my respects to their Excellencies.
• informal used to express the speaker’s approval of someone or something: respect to Hill for a truly non-superficial piece on the techno scene.
2 due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others: young people’s lack of respect for their parents.
3 a particular aspect, point, or detail: the government’s record in this respect is a mixed one
– Oxford Dictionary

Respect truly is a liking and an attention towards something or someone. Usually we use the word respect towards people or animals. You don’t really hear people say “I have great respect for this chair”, yet the liking we take to objects has to do with craftsmanship and design and personal taste. We can have a great respect for a company and their final product, like Apple or BMW or Channel [Creative Director: Karl Lagerfeld].

Respect can be mistakenly used all the time as an admiration of power. However not all power needs to be respected. Just like not all things deserve/need respect. I can imagine this stirs a debate for some people, however if you reflect deeper a lot of the conflicts we have in the world have to do with abuse of power and power not being shared equally and properly. The rise of Soft Power is a rise of new form of education that does not use coercion or aggression to manage and obtain new ideas. Although non aggressive I believe it requires much more respect than force or aggression.

This means that we can prevent wars and issues by contemplating what we hold in regard (what we like and where our attention goes) and what we need to change.

How do you let go of respecting things/people? What are your insights on this? What shifts for you as a result of changing what and who you respect?


The concept of attention and regard is particularly important when it comes to meditating because we always are in a state of turning attention on ourselves, breath mostly for people.

It is good to use other things than oneself or inanimate objects for meditation.

You can use your kids for meditation on loving kindness. For example placing your attention on a child with loving kindness will develop your respect and regard for the child, you are developing a loving relationships with that person, helping them feel secure and well.

When people live following their true passion they will be very protective of their time and energy, this means that they have the highest regard for their work and time.

As a result of that (I’ve been blamed for this) some people may feel that they are ‘disrespected’ when they do not get as much time as they would like with someone who’s attention their want.

In essence we could look at respect as a form of love, and this is the form of love that a lot of men want. This comes up for me to share with you, because of my recent seven (7) months in Canada working with different cultures and religions and lineages in Buddhism, which is a very masculine religion, and with asian people who have cultural very little respect, if any, towards women.

If you know your own stance on respect and human value in advance it will help you save a lot of time and effort to recognize who has respect towards you and who doesn’t, and who is afraid to express their opinion.


When I take a look at interdependence and interconnectedness, we really are all in a relationship on the planet, even with people whom we have not met, the intuitive feelings we have towards others (whether they are justified or not) are part of the respect/love/wave of energy that we feel and help to create.


Dr. Wangmo

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