Director: Héctor Muniente
Country: India, Nepal
Year: 2020

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“Compassion in action” is the philosophy of Karuna-Shechen, a nonprofit cofounded by Tibetan Buddhist monks Matthieu Ricard and Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche. “We say in Buddhism that wisdom and compassion are like the two wings of one bird. You cannot fly with just one wing,” says Matthieu Ricard. “Compassion has to be put in action. Without wisdom, compassion is blind. Without compassion, wisdom is sterile.”

Karuna tells the uplifting stories of the women in India and Nepal who are empowered by the education and job training the organization provides. In Kathmandu, a woman relishes her job tending to her community’s health as a nurse. In the foothills of Nepal, Karuna-Shechen’s solar technician training helps a young woman earn her own income for the first time; and in Bodhgaya, India, the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment, a bold group of women become rickshaw drivers, taking up a male-dominated job to support their families. Karuna-Shechen’s Buddhist approach to compassionate aid focuses on women’s empowerment as a positive force for families and communities.

This film was available to stream until midnight on Friday, April 30th, 2021. Tricycle’s screening has ended, but you can request a screening of the film here.

Learn more about the film at tzuchi.us/on-the-buddhas-path/karuna-film and visit Karuna-Shechen’s website at karuna-shechen.org.

The Tibetan Buddhist monk, humanitarian, photographer, and translator Matthieu Ricard co-founded Karuna-Shechen in 2000. | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

Shobha, one of the first female rickshaw drivers in Bodhgaya, started driving after her husband was injured and couldn’t work. She says, “If a man can drive rickshaws, why shouldn’t women?” | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

Shobha and Sushila talk while waiting for customers. | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

Bimala, a young Nepali woman, repairs a neighbor’s solar system. She has been able to support herself as a solar technician after attending Karuna-Sechen’s solar training. | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

Elementary school teacher Samjhana teaches her class how to read a clock. | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

Munsun works as a nurse at a clinic in Kathmandu. | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

Sushila has been driving a rickshaw through Karma-Sechen’s program since 2015. | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA

my soul drifts light upon a sea of trees

Karuna poster | Images courtesy Héctor Muniente & Hannah Whisenant - Tzu Chi USA