"Even disturbing emotions can be like visiting friends, enriching our lives — if we use them that way. Aung Sang Sui Kyi, the courageous leader of the opposition to Burma's military dictatorship is also a longtime student of Sayadaw U Pandita, a mindfulness master and one of my own teachers. Sui Kyi once said that she was not angry with her oppressors, the military dictators of Burma, because she had no fear of them — she had equanimity. She has used her years of house arrest in part as a chance to pursue her meditation practice, even as she kept alive the spark of political resistance among her countrymen.

"Her composure and serenity, even after years of threats and bullying, bears witness to one of the greatest gifts of the human spirit: the ability to transform adversity by awakening to a greater potential within. Her equanimity allowed her to send a message of hope and solidarity against political tyranny. Aung Sang Sui Kyi found an opportunity to transform fear and anger into compassionate action.

"Of course, compassion is a natural quality of being, one that spiritual practice can enhance, but that stems from our basic human essence."