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Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - Editor: Joyce
[Editor's Note: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, visited Boston last weekend. Over a four day period, he consecrated a local Tibetan Buddhist center, the Kurukulla Center, participated in a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology titled "Investigating the Mind: Exchanges between Buddhism and the Biobehavioral Sciences on How the Mind Works", and met with members of the Harvard University community. On Sunday, September 14, he conducted a Public Talk for New England in Boston. This issue of the NDHIghlights presents selected portions of his talk at the Fleet Center in Boston, transcribed from my personal notes. Responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies is mine, alone... I am grateful beyond measure for having had the opportunity to be in the presence of His Holiness last weekend as he brought this message of compassion to the people of Boston... joyce]
By nature, everyone has the seed of compassion. I think, biologically speaking - my own observation is - if we look deeply into the very nature of our life - the seed is at the beginning where it starts... It depends on the mother's care and affection. The fundamental fact of life is an almost innate sense of affection... There is a biological basis for our human affection .
His Holiness The Dalai Lama Boston, Massachusetts September 14, 2003
What are some reasons why people may have come to see me today?
you're curious? That's OK.
The belief that the Dalai Lama has special power, healing power, is not good... I'm skeptical of people claiming to have healing power... If someone really has healing power, I'd like to call them about my knees. [Laughter]
This is just meeting another human being. We are the same, emotionally, physically... No differences... All are the same: Human Beings... and all want a happy life. Everyone has the right to have a happy life, happy days. I'm here just talking at the level of another Human Being, that's all.
As a Buddhist monk, I try to keep my own sort of mental peace of mind, to rely on myself, not on another. Comparatively my mind is for the most part calm, even with the death of my Mother, my tutors, people close to me.
So, for a happy life, a successful life, much depends on our own inner state. Too much reliance on others leads to disappointment. Self-confidence is important. How to develop self-confidence properly? I believe that with all heart - compassion - that will develop self confidence.
The basic human values - human affection, concern for one another - these human values are essential for a happy life.
So, how to develop compassion? By nature, everyone has the seed of compassion. I think, biologically speaking - my own observation is if we look deeply into the very nature of our life - the seed is at the beginning where it starts... It depends on the mother's care and affection and the fundamental fact of life is an almost innate sense of affection... There is a biological basis for our human affection - dependence upon the mother.
Given the fact that expression of affection and love is something very deeply embedded and natural, physical affection is needed for proper development of the brain.
Constant fear or suspicion or anger or jealousy - eventually that affects very badly for our health, our digestion, our sleep. To move from self-confidence and compassion, take the sense of care for another.... Concern for another is a sign of inner serenity. A warm hearted person taking care of another...this is reducing fear and suspicion... A compassionate mind reduces fear and suspicion... Compassion is good for happiness and health. We are social animals, what is required for a successful life: compassion, lovingkindness, forgiveness. The basic human values are there from birth. Religious faith comes later.
Some people feel that compassion is something you feel for another. That is a mistake.
Two years ago, I had an infection in my intestines, near death. We visited an area in a car - a poor area, saw children that no one was taking care of, we saw one person alone in a small hut looking sick, no one was there, no one was taking care of them. That night, I was very sick, curled up in great pain... but that night, in my mind I constantly reflected on those poor people, those children... And that concern diverted my mind and the pain lessened.
When we are self-centered - we think only of ourself, even small problems appear unbearable... From a wider perspective, they appear not so big.
In our daily life, I think it is important to reflect upon the fact that in an experience of pain, pleasure, suffering, there are two levels: the physical level and the mind. Happiness and suffering have more to do with the mind. The desire to overcome pain is at the physical level.
Mental levels of experience - positive and negative - are much much stronger. Mental levels of experience have much different input on our experiences.
[Here His Holiness discussed *friendly-fire* vs. *enemy fire* ]
Whether friendly fire or enemy fire - the bullet causes the same pain... It can be physically painful, but mentally much less... Enemy fire may be expected, but friendly fire is not expected... Outrage is stronger when you are hit with friendly fire than enemy fire... Physical pain is easy to subdue by mental effort. Mental pain is very difficult to subdue by physical effort.
It is natural that the greater the operation of compassion, the more distant you will be from the destructive emotions that undermine compassion. The internal world, the world of mind, the world of emotion - some emotions are very useful for a happy life, so analyze which is good and which is bad.
I personally promote the importance of the secular values. I want you to activate them on a deeper level - the practice of tolerance, of patience... Connected with this is the important value of cultivating forbearance and tolerance... Not to be a slave to anger.... But this does not mean that you simply give in. Nonviolence does not mean merely absence of violence... Look at the motivation - if you want to exploit another or cheat another, then it is violence. Nonviolence depends on the emotion of human compassion. In some cases, people cannot deal with conflicted emotions and it leads to discomfort. Respect other's rights, compromise... at the family level, the community level. Why we are always talking peace, peace, nonviolence. I've expressed this wish quite often that we should try to break into the curriculum at schools so that children are exposed to dialog as a means of conflict resolution. There is external disarmament and internal disarmament to promote human affection and reduce jealousy. We must convey implementation of external disarmament... We must have a blueprint... We should have one goal in the 21st Century - to develop a sense of concern for one another. About ecology - this planet is our only hope. It is possible for [future] exploration of other planets... Regardless of how problematic our planet is, I don't think there is a planet out there that is better than ours. I think its very important to take good care of ours. Think about humanity - the present generation and future generations.
Contentment... Contentment is necessary and useful.... With relation to objects that have limits, one could own the world, but that's the end. [And still] the inner greed and desire [persist]. Without inner contentment you will reach tremendous disappointment.
In our day to day life, we tend to be discontented with our material things - we always want more. But in our inner life, the opposite - we tend to be complacent, we don't strive for better.
Love, compassion, forgiveness, contentment - all religions teach us these values. All religions have the same chance to do this. As a Buddhist monk, I always try to promote religious harmony. It is very essential to promote harmony among the different religions, learning as one tries.
If you have a certain religious belief, then you should take it very seriously. That belief should be part of your life - it is very essential.
If you meet someone who makes you uncomfortable, remember that they are the same sort of creature of God... When you have the negative emotion, remember the image of God. As a Buddhist practitioner, when you come across someone who angers you and negative emotion arises, remember in that moment that he is another individual who wishes to be happy, wishes to have a good life, too... Remember that in that moment, the person may have been angry, but in a previous life they may have been your family member.
The key idea is self-discipline - adopt a voluntary notion of restraint.
to follow the basic human values.
Try to be a nice person
Respect other religions - they have the same potential to increase the basic good human qualities. All carry the same message.
Question & Answer Session
Q: What are three things we as everyday people can do to build compassion in our society?
Dalai Lama: That I don't know. [said with a smile]
I personally believe since we humans are gifted with our profound faculties of intelligence, we should use it to investigate compassion.
One basis of compassion - not only a sense of closeness, a feeling and sense of concern based on respect... The basis is not because the other does something good for me... Irrespective of the other's positive attitude towards me, but just because the other is just like myself, and wants a happy life... I'm biased, even my enemy is the same Human Being - all have the same rights... On that basis, you can keep genuine sympathy and compassion... Once you have that kind of understanding, a situation may arise that you may need to use a strong countermeasure, but you will not forget that the other is the same. We distinguish between the individual and the act... towards the person, compassion... towards the 'action,' counteraction or force if needed.
Q: What is the purpose of your talks with the scientists?
[The Dalai Lama said that at first it was just a personal interest, and then he spoke briefly of the types of studies being done. He spoke of the need for young Buddhist scholars to engage with scientists, saying "Science is important to the welfare of Human Beings. Both scientists and Buddhists try to bring a happier world."]
Q: I'm so angry about the was in the Middle East. What do you advise?
Dalai Lama: Yes, me too. Basically, I'm committed to nonviolence... But then the world is quite complicated... [He spoke of past wars a bit...] The Korean War - endless destruction but ultimately good came of it. The Second World War saved democracy. The Korean War saved Korea. The Vietnam War - total failure... Iraq? It is too early to say what will happen. Wait a couple of years and then history will show us.
[Editor's Note: This issue of the NDHIghlights presented selected portions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's talk at the Fleet Center in Boston, transcribed from my personal notes. Responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies is mine, alone, and I extend apologies for any mistakes. I am grateful beyond measure for having had the opportunity to be in the presence of His Holiness last weekend as he brought this message of compassion
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