Monday, November 25, 2013

Teachings by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Today I attended a lecture with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, on making the best use of the wisdom of Buddhism in daily life. Below are some of the powerful yet simple concepts he shared.

We must think more seriously about the oneness of humanity. There are too many secondary differences among us humans, such as religion, nationality, ethnicity; too much division between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, and even within families. Such secondary differences create conflicts of the type "us vs. them" that keep us away from the realization that we all have the same right to achieve a happy life.

We need more global responsibility: if the world was happy, then each individual would derive individual and collective benefits; if the world is in conflict, all individuals will suffer individually and collectively.

Selfish behavior should be wise, not the narrow-minded, short-term selfishness. No one ever wishes they had more trouble in their lives. Everyone wants less conflict. But at the same time, many of our problems are our own creation. This is due to a lack of holistic view or a lack of the wise-selfish behavior that would also benefit others.

Self-centered attitudes lead to destructive emotions. We must expand the concept of "we" to include the entire humanity, to feel closer to each other. In this way, we will generate trust and friendship and reduce fear, anger and hatred that are bad for our health and eat our immune system.

Self-confidence brings inner strength. Peace of mind is the most important factor to achieve it and it can be developed by training mindfulness, compassion and lovingkindness by meditating 30 minutes per day.

All religions share the message of the practice of love. To be rich does not imply to be happy. Wealth does not guarantee inner peace. Human affection is extremely important to live in a happy family.

We must teach common sense. If there is an orientation towards materialistic values, then it will not be enough to simply talk about moral values.

Out of 7 billion people on Earth, about 1 billion are non-believers. Therefore, we need a secular education to build and achieve secular ethics.

Both theistic and non-theistic religions practice love successfully. By teaching tolerance and self-discipline, the practice of love creates self-confidence and inner strength. A non-theistic religion like Buddhism delegates on the individual the responsibility of life: you are the master of your own self-creation.

Buddhism believes in the law of causality and interconnectedness or interdependency. Nothing exists independently. This can be proven through cosmology, psychology, neurobiology and quantum physics. For example, the failure of climate talks are due to national interests prevailing over global interests. Global interests are the only way of taking care of all humanity.

Many problems are solved by changing narrow-mindedness to an holistic approach. Debate is the best way to study. In fact, it is the way in which Buddhism is best taught. Argument and disagreement lead to learning. If people always say "yes", like "yes-ministers", there will be no progress.


Several questions were asked to him at the end of his lecture. The first one was if all dreams could be achieved. He responded: a dream is a dream. The approach to it must be very, very realistic. You must analyze the goal, then seek suggestions from your peers. If you fail nine times and nine times you make greater efforts, then you will achieve success.

The second one was how he thought Buddhism would be practiced in 1000 years when life on Earth will be compromised, according to scientists such as Stephen Hawking. He responded: in Buddhism, logically, where there is a beginning, there must be an ending. Frankly, don't worry about 1000 years from now. Worry about this century that must be peaceful and happy!

His Holiness ended his participation with a joke, of course: What I hold in my hands is the best proof that East needs West: this water [bottle] is from France!