A question was asked of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, regarding what prayers can be done to help the Nepalese people. This relates to the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. He repeated the word “Nepalese” a few times, saying it slowly “N-e-p-a-l-e-s-e”. For a moment I thought that he didn’t understand the word properly.
Then he raised his eyebrows and said “only Nepalese people?”. His response implied why would we only do prayers for the people in Nepal?
That really hit me. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has meditated in the Himalayan mountains in this lifetime and previous lifetimes, he setup Kopan Monastery and Kopan Nunnery in Nepal. Thousands of people have been killed by the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal, and many more have had their lives changed completely. For these reasons Nepal is close to his heart.
Despite his connection with Nepal and the Nepalese people, the scope of his prayers is much wider. His scope includes all humans, animals, and fish all over the world are suffering, in wars and conflicts, anger turning into violence, terrible behaviour motivated by greed. Why would we limit the scope of our prayers to some people in one place who are experiencing one type of suffering? What about all of the other beings in the 6 Realms (plus the intermediate Bardo state) who are experiencing other types of suffering?
Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s short answer really made me think about keeping a wider view of the world, and to make that a priority. In some situations there is benefit in focusing on a specific cause to raise awareness or take action. But the bodhicitta motivation is much wider than that.