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What Took You So Long?

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What Took You So Long?

The spontaneous evolution of life.
Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.
Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D. More by this author
Jan 21, 2012 at 09:00 AM

The Buddhists describe loving participation in the world as compassion, a word that is often misunderstood by the Western mind. We tend to think of compassion as a nice sentiment, like taking the time to feel bad about people starving somewhere. But in the Buddhist tradition, compassion is far more sophisticated in that it shows a deep understanding of both quantum physics and cellular biology.

In her book A Call to Compassion, Aura Glaser refers to compassion as the “practice of enlightenment.” In other words, enlightenment is something we cultivate in daily life based on a sane understanding of the world and our relationship to it. The Bodhisattva, one dedicated to awakening heart and mind, Glaser said, cultivates the “two-pronged mind,” the understanding that love of self and love of others are one and the same. “Compassion,” she wrote, “is an expression of human freedom, flowing from a sound intuition of the unity of life and all living things.”1

This understanding of the relatedness of all things, as well as acting from that relatedness, offers the key to spontaneous evolution. Writer and lecturer Gregg Braden, author of The Divine Matrix, traveled to Tibet in search of a way to connect quantum physics and ancient wisdom. Through a translator, he asked the head of a Buddhist monastery, “What connects us with one another, our world, and our universe? What is the ‘stuff’ that travels beyond our bodies and holds the world together?”2

The geshe, or teacher, answered in only six words: “Compassion is what connects all things.” The next day, another monk further clarified this statement. “Compassion,” he said, “is both a force in the universe as well as a human experience.” In other words, compassion is both the field and the intention we put into that field.

To Buddhists, the freely willing choice of any individual to act in a particular way directly impacts humanity as a whole. The reverberation of our actions through time and space is called karma. The perception of selflessness sometimes associated with Buddhist compassion is actually a divine selfishness where two selves are served simultaneously. There is the small self of the individual and the greater Self of collective existence. This ancient belief fully conforms to our evolving awareness that each individual human is a sentient cell in the body of humanity and must simultaneously act in the self-interest of the individual and of the whole system. No wonder Glaser refers to Bodhisattvas as “citizens of the universe.”

Science has brought the world untold gifts. The fact that Gregg Braden and other citizens of Western civilization have been able to board an airplane and visit an ancient culture half a world away is only one example of the benefits of technology. While many shun technology, we see it is an inherent and fundamental element of evolution. Consider the fact that cells, in creating the human body, developed many technologies that are far more sophisticated than those yet derived from modern science.

The true wisdom dawning today is the realization that science devoid of spirit is limited. We must honor and acknowledge humanity’s technological prowess. However, more important, we must also embrace our individual and collective power of compassion in order to use technology more wisely and with appropriate humility. This insight is illuminated in the classic scenario where a scientist climbs the Mountain of Knowledge, finally reaches the top and sees Buddha quietly sitting at the peak.

“What are you doing here?” asks the scientist.

“What took you so long?” replies the Buddha, smiling.


  1. Aura Glaser, A Call to Compassion: Bringing Buddhist Practices of the Heart into the Soul of Psychology, (Berwick, ME: Nicholas-Hays, 2005), 11.
  2. Braden, The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles, and Belief, 84–85.


About Author
Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.
Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., a pioneer in the new biology, is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit. A cell biologist by training, Bruce was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and later perf Continue reading