On Tuesday, June 21, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama addressed the Salt Lake City community packed into the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah to share his thoughts on compassion and connection. While His Holiness is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, considered by his people as an incarnation of Avelokitesvara, the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, his talk offered guidance on how we can cultivate more peace and compassion in everyday life.
“All seven billion human beings are same,” he said. “We all have same desires for peace, for happiness. Even animals and insects have same desire.”
His Holiness advised that we create suffering for ourselves and others when we consider ourselves different or separate from others.
“We are same,” he stressed. “If you consider me, the speaker, an extraordinary being who is something special, my experience is no use for you. Not relevant. But If you consider me one of the seven billion human beings, it is very easy for us to communicate with one another.”
When we see our connection to each other, and let go of creating separation, we find greater peace and happiness.
Our Problem, Our Responsibility
His Holiness shared his thoughts about the current state of our world:
“So much killing.
Same human being.
Human being on same planet.
Very very sad.”
Middle east, Africa.
And meantime, violence forming.
All this comes from [thinking] 'ME,' 'ME,' and self-centered attitude,
And being self-centered about life.”
Speaking on how we find the solution to these problems, he said he is quite skeptical about peace through prayer. “For a thousand years, pray, pray, pray, but not positive result.”
“I pray to Allah, I pray to God. Both sides pray to God. Then it’s difficult for God, he does not know if his bless should go to this side or that side.”
He asked, “Who destroys peace? Not God, but you. So you have the responsibility to solve this problem, since you created it.”
21st Century Peace
Reflecting on how we move towards peace, His Holiness said, “We only create peace through action. Not by prayer.”
“If we not make effort with full enthusiasm, with determination, then this first century will be the same century. A lot of bloodshed, suffering. More than 200 million people killed last century through violence.”
“[We have this] syndrome of violence because people have century old thinking. That's old thinking, 20th century thinking.”
“We have bigger population, different economy. We need to find a new way of thinking, to focus on global reality.”
“[Years ago] French and Germans were enemies. Later, they become partners and create the European Union. Time passes, things change. We need to create more change.
We Are Our Own Creations
“Constant anger, constant fear destroy peace of mind,” he advised. “Through this we destroy our physical health. Showing interest about compassion and love are very much based on a sense of oneness. Just as individuals want happiness and love, so do others. On this we have a universal sense of well being.”
“People in a material society are not necessary very happy,” he noted. “Some billionaires, not very happy. External development alone is no guaranteed to create happy human being, happy society. When we develop a sense of global responsibility, we develop a sense of oneness with other human beings.”
“A sense, a concern of others' well being is the best way to get benefit for oneself. When that attitude comes, you develop more self confidence. That brings more inner peace.”
His Holiness recognized that we all have difficulties, noting how he lost his personal freedom at 16, and his home at 24, and many sad things happened since. “But we are own creations,” he said. “No matter our difficulties, we have the ability to keep inner strength.”
The Open Mind of a Scientist
Asked about his thoughts on the contributions of science in modern life, His Holiness reflected on how cultivating a scientists’ mind can help all of us.
“Scientists’ minds can be very open and unbiased,” he observed. “This true scientist attitude is very necessary. Taking further research and study, looking for knowledge. If we do not, then there is no further progress. To carry out the investigation, your mind must be open." And a little skepticism brings questions to help us find answers. "Those who feel, 'I know everything' will not make progress. So even at 81 years old, I am a student.”
“Through the last 30 years, I have discussions with scientists about basic human nature. It is compassion. If [basic human nature is] anger, we have no hope. More compassion, more healthy, more friend, more friendship comes. Then, more happy family, and community. Then we have a happier global world.”
Changing a Century
As he concluded his talk, His Holiness advised us all to act.
“Now the time has come,” he said. “We have to make effort to achieve a happier world, a more compassionate world. This century should be a more peaceful, more happy century. If we make effort now, this century can be more happy, more peaceful. If we do not, we will have miserable experience.”
“We should not think of world problems as huge, [or that] one individual cannot do much. This is wrong thinking. Change of century starts with one individual. Try to develop sense of oneness with humanity and that sense of concern and well being of seven billion will start with one individual having that feeling of view. Then create with your family, friends, ten families, a thousand families. That is the way we change society.”
“You must make effort to lead this movement. Try to implement and make contribution. But if you feel it is a burden, and you want to choose alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or night clubs, this is up to you.”
We are all connected. We create our own problems, and we are in control of our choices. We can each begin with choosing love and reaching out. The ripple of great change starts with you.
You can watch the Dalai Lama’s entire address on his website here (flash player required): http://dalailama.com/webcasts/post/359-compassion-and-universal-responsibility