In April the leader of one of the world’s great religions will be in Seattle for a five day workshop called the Seeds of Compassion; that’s right, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is coming to the Emerald City in hopes of creating a sustainable dialogue with educators, researchers, and policy makers regarding early childhood social and emotional cognitive learning programs. The big idea is that all humans are born with a seed of compassion inside of them, and if we nurture that seed in our children from a very young age, they will grow into compassionate, caring adults, and guess what? The world will be a better place.

It’s such a simple idea that it is radical, but this is no pie-in-the-sky conversation: this workshop is about action. The five days of seminars for children, teenagers, students, educators, parents, and leaders of business and community will focus on every aspect of compassion, from it’s scientific basis (the act of caring for another person creates physical changes in the mind and body), to the inter-spiritual nature of compassion, to directives for action for youth ambassadors. The simple Buddhist monk (which is how His Holiness refers to himself) will attempt to spread his message of peace, nonviolence, inter-religious understanding, and universal responsibility to the masses.

Events will be held around Seattle and the compassion convention kicks off with a benefit concert at Key Arena on April 11. At 4:30 the conversation begins with Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, and the Dalai Lama talking about how the emotions inherent in the musical experience transcend cultural boundaries, unite us as humans, and serve as a vessel for greater global understanding. Then, Dave and Tim will straight rock out. When you combine a virtuoso guitar player like Tim and a songwriter with the passion of Dave, the results are electric and Key Arena will be going off like mad that night, despite the fact that there are only two little acoustic guitars on stage. As a recent DMB convert it still blows my mind how much Dave gives it no matter where or with whom he is performing. He can express all the emotions of the painful inevitability of the finite nature of love with just three plucks of the guitar; he can ignite a Gorge full of people to take chances, to live, and to love like this life is precious or something.

Tickets to the concert and the workshop are sold out but certain events will be webcast; for more information check out the Seeds of Compassion website where downloadable curricula for early childhood educators is available as well as volunteer and sponsorship opportunities. Imagine a world where teaching young children compassion is a first priority, where we understand that being a good person is essential to happiness and success, where the deep wisdom of the Dalai Lama lives in us all. Now that will be one sweet world.

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