The wisdom of compassion - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

The wisdom of compassion

Written by on June 11, 2015 in Happiness, Relationships with 0 Comments


“Instil me with a greater sense of compassion so that I can be liberated,” Lior translates an ancient Hebrew hymn for us, then lets his voice ring out as he sings the hymn for us in its original language.

The wonder of serendipity brought Lior and Nigel Westlake together, Geraldine Doogue says.

Nigel says that he never would have met Lior unless his son was tragically taken from him. After his son’s death, Nigel couldn’t make music. In order to keep the memory of his son alive, he set up the Smugglers of Light foundation. Nigel says that both of his sons were huge fans of Lior. By chance, he met Lior’s cousin who put them in touch for a performance Nigel was organising.

Lior was the headline act at the performance Nigel organised to commemorate his son. Greatly impressed by Lior’s closing song – the hymn he just performed for us – Nigel asked to record and orchestrate the song, which is how he returned to music.

They wanted this presentation to not be religious, but to be universal, so they combined Hebrew and Arabic texts in the piece.

“How did compassion come out of this?” Geraldine asks.

The link between compassion and feeling a greater sense of freedom is what Lior wanted to communicate through the song.

“Compassion is a concept that I wasn’t aware of until I lost my son,” Nigel says. When he looked in people’s eyes as they comforted him on his loss, what he saw was compassion.

“Now, I have much less tolerance for music that doesn’t hold a message,” Nigel tells us.

In Islam and Judaism, the core of the word ‘God’ is ‘compassion’, Lior says. However, neither Lior nor Nigel are religious. “We both share a belief that there is so much in all religions to learn from,” Nigel says.

Geraldine asks what Lior and Nigel think about the fact that many children today are being brought up without music as a big part of their lives. Nigel can’t imagine this.

“Where would you be without music?” she asks.

“I asked myself that when I had that block after losing Eli,” Nigel said.

“I always felt that music was my spirituality,” Lior says. “It’s such a powerful way to communicate with one another.”


Nigel Westlake is an award winning composer and musician, film scores include Babe and Miss Potter. Lior is one of Australia’s most cherished singer/songwriters, critically acclaimed and ARIA nominated independent artist. This is their presentation from Happiness & Its Causes 2015 moderated by Geraldine Doogue AO, one of Australia’s most respected broadcasters and presenter of Compass on ABC TV.

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