#19: Live with compassion (a summary of a talk by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama)

I recently had the honour and privilege of attending a talk by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, hosted by the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Thousands of people gathered to hear words from this serene and respected figure. The theme of the talk was ‘Human Approaches to World Peace’.  His Holiness spoke in a sincere, light-hearted and humourous manner, providing many personal examples and anecdotes.  He smiled broadly and chuckled warmly throughout his talk.  I found it remarkable to see the vast number of people congregated in one place to hear simple but meaningful words from one single man–one single person who has obviously made a profound mark in the hearts of so many people.  It was a true pleasure being in his presence.  The following is a summary of some of his key points:

His Holiness started his talk by stating that the major problems in this world are man-made and that fundamentally as human beings, we are all the same; we all want a happy life and everyone has a right to be happy.  That being said, we must think on this fundamental level and remember that the world is now one entity and we must therefore appreciate and consider the oneness of humanity.

He then continued by discussing how people in society below the age of 30 ‘belong’ to the 21st century and that there are 90 years yet to come in this century, therefore the responsibility for world peace lies on the shoulders of this younger (below 30) generation.  Greater world peace, he said, comes from greater vision, and the violence that currently exists in the world is a result of negligence and excessive force stemming from the past.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama emphasized compassion and warm-heartedness as the roots of peace and said that the bases of all moral ethics and cultural traditions are similar–compassion, love, warm-heartedness and forgiveness.  It is therefore important to look inward on our journey towards peace and remember that, although money is important, material value cannot provide inner peace.  Inner peace he said, can be achieved by a calm mind and this virtue is very important.  Science has been able to demonstrate the workings of the mind in many ways, particularly the plasticity of the mind. This he said, is called ‘inner science’ and points to the ability for one to train their mind.  A healthy mind goes hand-in-hand with a healthy body.

The Dalai Lama stressed that whenever there is conflict or disagreement, it must be solved through dialogue and these skills must be cultivated through education from a very young age.  He said that “peace will not drop from the sky”–it depends on our own actions and actions of compassion are fundamental to peace.  He said we must be good to our neighbours and consider their interests even if they are different from our own.  He called this ‘unbiased compassion’ and contrasted it to ‘limited compassion’, whereby our attitudes are influenced by or oriented from the attitudes of others.  Unbiased compassion considers everyone’s interests, even if we oppose certain wrongful actions, which we have the right to do.  Unbiased compassion stems from the basic understanding of the oneness of human kind.

The Dalai Lama warned against a self-centered attitude and encouraged us to open our hearts in order to develop trust.  He remarked that we are social animals and that our individual futures depend on the community, therefore it is imperative that we develop genuine friendships on the basis of trust.  He also compared the physical features of humans to more aggressive animals such as cats and noted that this suggests that were are more gentle by nature.

His Holiness emphasized the importance of teachers and education in the human approach to world peace.  He suggested that moral ethics and the promotion of values and compassion should be included in education in a secular way.  He pointed out that secularism is not a way of opposing religion, but instead a way of respecting differing religious beliefs and also the views of non-believers.  However, he did note the many commonalities amongst religions, in their views towards morality and values.  The Dalai Lama concluded this section of his talk by stating that peace will come through action and not just through prayer and that our methods to achieving peace must be realistic.  He also said that the changes that have taken place in the world from the beginning to the end of the 20th century shows us that there is hope for a better world.  He did however, caution against countries taking their national interests more seriously than global interests (and used the Copenhagen summit as an example).  He said that the aforementioned examples point to greed and through education we must create greater awareness of the importance of focusing on global interests.

In response to a question regarding the potential of having a female Dalai Lama in the future, His Holiness said that females have been shown to display more compassion than males and thus they play a crucial role in our education system and in the world in general.  He said that teaching values without action has no meaning, but teaching with caring (i.e., action) will allow students to truly understand the meaning of compassion.  He encouraged the active participation of females in the promotion of world peace.

His Holiness outlined his three key commitments: 1) His commitment to the promotion of religious harmony, 2) His commitment to the promotion of inner values and 3) His commitment to Tibetan causes and culture.

Finally, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama spoke from the heart about his personal experiences dealing with the troubles and difficulties of the world.  He shared that at the age 0f 16 he lost his freedom and at the age of 24 he lost his country and thus, given where he now stands in his life, he has learned the power of truth and sincerity in helping the world no matter how many set-backs there may be.

Thank you, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet for helping the world.

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