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Talks of the Dalai Lama

DALAI LAMA's words

"My message is the practice of compassion, love, and kindness. Compassion can be put into practice if one recognizes the fact that every human being is a member of humanity and the human family regardless of differences in religion, culture, color, and creed. Deep down there is no difference."

"We should try never to let our happy frame of mind be disturbed. Whether we are suffering at present or have suffered in the past, there is no reason to be unhappy. If we can remedy it, why be unhappy? And if we cannot, what use is there in being depressed about it? That just adds more unhappiness and does no good at all."

"By developing a sense of respect for others and a concern for their welfare, we reduce our own selfishness, which is the source of all problems, and enhance our sense of kindness which is a natural source of goodness."
Message On His First Visit to The West in 1973

"You should respect other religions....the essence of all religions is basically the same: to achieve a true sense of brotherhood, a good heart, respect for others. If we can develop these qualities from within our heart, then I think we can actually achieve true peace.

Above all, we must put others before us and keep others in our mind constantly: the self must be placed last. All our doings and thinkings must be motivated by compassion for others. The way to acquire this kind of outlook is that we must accept the simple fact that whatever we desire is also desired by others. Every being wants happiness, not suffering. If we adopt a self-centered approach to life by which we attempt to use others for our own self-interest, we might be able to gain temporary benefit, but in the long run, we will not succeed in achieving even our personal happiness, and hope for next life is out of question."

Evil:

Question: "Are there not some things so evil that you should hate them?"
Answer: "Your own bad thoughts. The real enemy is not outside, but inside.

Now here, you see, it is necessary to make a distinction between external enemies and internal ones. External enemies are not permanent; if you respect him, the enemy will become your friend. But there is one enemy who isalways an enemy, whom you should never compromise, that is the enemy inside your heart. You cannot change all these bad thoughts into your friend, but you have to confront and control them."

Kindness and Good Heart:

"The essence of Buddhism is kindness, compassion. This is the essence of every religion, but particularly in Mahayana Buddhism. I think this is very important and everybody can practice it without deeper faith. Simply you are a human being; everybody appreciates kindness. In fact when we grow up, we grow up in the kindness of our parents, and without that sort of kindness we cannot exist. This is very clear because today you find that children who are not brought up within the love of their parents, or where there is a disruption in the family, are later psychologically affected. As a human being, kindness, a warm heart ins very important......If you have this basic quality of kindness or good heart, then all other things, education, ability will go in the right direction.

If you have a bad heart, then knowledge or ability are used in the wrong direction; instead of helping others, it makes trouble .... Every man has the basis of good. Not only human beings, you can find it among animals or insects, for instance when we treat a dog or horse lovingly."

Peace:

Without proper mental peace it is difficult to achieve world peace; therefore, there is a connection. Many of the problem that we have today are because of our hatred. As human beings we have good qualities as well as bad ones. Now anger, attachment, jealousy, hatred are the bad side; these are the real enemy. From a certain point of view, our real enemy, the true troublemaker, is inside. So these bad thoughts remain active, and as long as you have these, it is difficult to attain mental peace....my suggestion or advice is very simple, that is: to have a sincere heart. I believe that this is something basic and that anyone can approach through this way, irrespective of whatever ideology he may belong to or even if he is a non-believer. Real true brotherhood, a good heart towards one's fellow men, this is the basic thing. I believe that if you have a true feeling of brotherhood, then whether you are a scientist, an economist, or a politician, whatever profession you may follow, you will always have this concern for your fellow beings. I also believe that if you have this concern for others, then whatever the affects that might result from the profession you follow, you will always be concerned as to whether it is going to benefit or harm your fellow beings. I personally feel that this concern for others is lacking today. Many people emphasize to think only of yourself and have a selfish motive. I feel that basically the cause of many problems is due to this lack of concern for others and that if we really develop this kind of sincere feeling and sense of universal responsibility, then many of the problems we face today, like pollution, the energy crisis, and the population crisis can be solved. If we have such a sincere feeling, we need not worry about the self-sufficiency of the world. What I am referring to is that today certain parts of the world we have poverty and starvation, and in other parts of the world, abundance of wealth. This is an example. So if you have a genuine concern for others, then I feel that there is no need to suffer from such problems, because the world has sufficient resources to overcome these problems. The main thing is whether you have the real sense of universal responsibility. Basically, then the mostimportant thing is a good heart."

Q: In your opinion, is death a biological and medical event, or is it simply personal and spiritual? Is a right that we do everything in our power to save or at least prolong for a few years the life and human being? Or conversely, is it unfair to impose the risk that death will occur in a highly technical medical context, where the patient is cut off from family and friends? Do you think death is good or bad? And finally, do the efforts of western medicine to thwart death seemed questionable to you? If, on the contrary, death belongs the dying and they close friends and family, atwhat point should the physician withdraw? Under what conditions must we inform the patient that death can no longer be avoided?

A: First of all, we should realise that death is truly part of life and that it is neither would not bad in itself. In the Tibetan book of the dead, it says "what we called death is merely a concept." In other words, death represents the end of the gross consciousness and its support, the gross body. This happens at the gross level of the mind. But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call "clear light. "Of course, generally speaking, death is something we dread. However, death, which we want nothing to do with, is unavoidable. This is why it is important that during our lifetime we become familiar with the idea of death, so that it will not be a real shock to us at the moment it comes. We do not meditate regularly on death in order to die more quickly; on the contrary, like everyone, we wish to live a long time. However, since death is inevitable, we believe that if we begin to prepare for it and an earlier point in time, on the day of our death it will be easier to accept it.

I think that there is no general rule with regard to the intensive care often given to patients in order to prolong their lives. It is a complex problem, and in examining it we must take numerous elements into account, according to each set of circumstances, each particular case. For example, if we prolong the life of person who is critically ill but whose mind remains very lucid, we are giving him or her the opportunity to continue to think in the way only a human being can think. We must also consider whether the person will benefit from prolonged life or whether, on the contrary, he will experience great physical and mental suffering, physical pain, or extreme fear. If the person is in a deep coma, that is yet another problem. The wishes of the patients family must also be taken into account, as well as the immense financial problems that prolonged care can create. I think the most important thing is to try and to our best to ensure that dying person may depart quietly, with serenity and in a peace. There is also a distinction to be made between those dying people who practise a religion and those who do not. Whatever the case, whether one is religious or not, I believe it is better to die in peace.

Q: Just as one often asks a doctor if the day will come when there will no longer be any disease, do you think that after cozens or hundreds of meetings like this one, the day will come when the world will truly be at peace?

A: I do believe and continue to hope that we can attain universal peace on earth. But, of course, there will always be minorproblems here and there.

Q: The film "Why Did Bodhidharma Go to the East?" allowed us, through its very beautiful images, to gain experience and understanding of the extent to which spiritual liberation goes hand-in-hand with the enlightenment of consciousness that comes about in the interaction of human beings with their natural environment. But Buddhism also professes the absence of the actual existence of phenomena which, naively, we consider to be "natural." Would you tell us what place the idea of nature nonetheless occupies in Buddhism, and how the recognition of the emptiness of phenomena can lead us to alter our way of looking, at the environment?

A: It is said that inanimate objects do not have an inherent existence but a conventional one. This applies not only to inanimate objects but also to animate objects-- that is, to beings endowed with conscious-ness. In this respect, the inanimate world is on an equal basis with the animate world of living beings. As far as the relation between the external world and the inner world (the mind) is concerned, according to certain philosophical schools, in particular the Yogacara Svatantrika (a sub-school of Madhyamika) and the Cittamatra, external phenomena do not exist; all that exists is of the nature of the mind. Relativity is explained principally by the Prasangika branch of the Madhyamika school. According to the Madhyamika-Prasangika school, external phenomena exist and are not of the nature of the mind. They have no inherent or ultimate existence, but their nature is
different from that of the mind. The outer world exists in dependence on the mind, insofar as it exists as a designation made by the mind. It does not, therefore, exist independently from the mind's imputation, nor is it of the nature of the mind. Therefore, an external world which can be examined objectively does exist.

Buddhism perceives the environment, in general, to be composed of infinitesimal particles; in particular, it views human beings as part of nature and for this reason -- there is, naturally, a link between human-kind and our environment. Clearly, our happiness depends a great deal on the environment. This is why Buddhist texts explain how one should behave with regard to nature. For example, one of the monastic rules forbids the contamination or destruction of vegetation.

According to accounts of the Buddha's life, it would seem that he had a very deep relationship with nature. He was not born in the royal palace but in a park, under a sala tree. He attained complete enlightenment under the bodhi tree and left this earth to enter Parinirvana, again, between three sala trees. It would seem that the Buddha was very fond of trees.

SPEECH in the Nobel Celebration:

Your Majesty, Member of the Nobel Committee, Brothers and Sisters:

I am very happy to be here with you today to receive the Nobel Prize for peace. I feel honoured, humbled, and deeply moved that you should give this important prize to a simple monk from Tibet. I am no one special. But I believe the prize is a recognition of the true value of altruism, love, compassion, and nonviolence which I try to practise, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the sages of India and Tibet. I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of all of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of nonviolent action for change- Mahatama Gandhi-whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities. The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage, and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated.

No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have basically the same human needs and concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature. The great changes that are taking place in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa, are a clear indication of this.

In China the popular movement for democracy was crushed by brutal force in June this year. But I do not believe the demonstrations were in vain, because the spirit of freedom was rekindled among the Chinese people, and China cannot escape the impact of this spirit of freedom sweeping in many parts of the world. The brave students and their supporters showed the Chinese leadership and the world the human face of that great nation.

Last week a number of Tibetans were once again sentenced to prison terms of up to nineteen years at a mass show trial, possibly intended to frighten the population before today's event. Their only "crime" was the expression of the widespread desire of Tibetans for the restoration of their beloved country's independence.

The suffering or our people during the past forty years of occupation is well documented. Ours has been a long struggle. We know our cause is just. Because violence can only breed more violence and suffering, our struggle must remain nonviolent and free of hatred. We are trying to end the suffering of our people, not to inflict suffering upon others.

It is with this in mind that I propose negotiations between Tibet and China on numerous occasions. In 1987, I made specific proposals in a Five-Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. This included the conversion of the entire Tibetan plateau into a zone of Ahimsa, a sanctuary of peace and nonviolence where human beings and nature can live in peace and harmony.

Last year, I elaborated on that plan in Strasbourg at the European Parliament. I believe the ideas I expressed on those occasions were both realistic and reasonable, although they have been criticised by some of my people as being too conciliatory. Unfortunately, China's leaders have not responded positively to the suggestions we have made, which included important concessions. If this continues, we will be compelled to reconsider our position.

Any relationship between Tibet and China will have to be based on the principal of equality, respect, trust, and mutual benefit. It will also have to be based on the principal which the wise rulers of Tibet and of China laid down in a treaty as early as 823A.D, carved on the pillar which still stands today in front of the Jokhang, Tibet's holiest shrine, in Lhasa, that "Tibetans will live happily in the great land of Tibet, and the Chinese will live happily in the great land of China."

As a Buddist monk, my concern extends to all members of the human family and, indeed, to all the sentient beings who suffer. I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction.

Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.

The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger, and so on, are human created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding, and a development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.

With the ever-growing impact of science in our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into each other. Both science and the teaching of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things. This understanding is crucial if we are to take positive and decisive action on the pressing global concern with the environment.

I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means may appear different, the ends are the same.

As we enter the final decade of this century, I am optimistic that the ancient values that have sustained mankind are today reaffirming themselves to prepare us for a kinder, happier twenty-first century.

I pray for all of us, oppressor and friend, that together we succeed in building a better world through human understanding and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.

Thankyou.

Tenzin Gyatso
14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
December 10, 1989,
Oslo, Norway, Earth

 

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