His Holiness the Dalai Lama Reflects on Working Toward
world requires us to accept the oneness of humanity. In
the past, isolated communities could afford to think of
one another as fundamentally separate. Some could even exist
in total isolation. But nowadays, whatever happens in one
region eventually affects many other areas. Within the context
of our new interdependence, self-interest clearly lies in
considering the interest of others.
Many of the world's problems and conflicts arise because
we have lost sight of the basic humanity that binds us all
together as a human family. We tend to forget that despite
the diversity of race, religion, ideology, and so forth,
people are equal in their basic wish for peace and happiness.
Nearly all of us receive our first lessons in peaceful
living from our mothers, because the need for love lies
at the very foundation of human existence. From the earliest
stages of our growth, we are completely dependent upon our
mother's care and it is very important for us that she express
her love. If children do not receive proper affection, in
later life they will often find it hard to love others.
Peaceful living is about trusting those on whom we depend
and caring for those who depend on us. Most of us receive
our first experience of both these qualities as children.
I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.
From the very core of our being, we desire contentment.
In my own limited experience I have found that the more
we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our
own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted
feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease.
It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have
and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we
encounter. It is the principal source of success in life.
Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake
to place all our hopes for happiness on external development
alone. The key is to develop inner peace.
Actions and events depend heavily on motivation. From
my Buddhist viewpoint all things originate in the mind.
If we develop a good heart, then whether the field of our
occupation is science, agriculture, or politics, since the
motivation is so very important, the result will be more
beneficial. With proper motivation these activities can
help humanity; without it they go the other way. This is
why the compassionate mind is so very important for humankind.
Although it is difficult to bring about the inner change
that gives rise to it, it is absolutely worthwhile to try.
When you recognize that all beings are equal and like
yourself in both their desire for happiness and their right
to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness
for them. You develop a feeling of responsibility for others:
the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a
firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate
attitude towards others does not change even if they behave
I believe that we must consciously develop a greater sense
of universal responsibility. We must learn to work not just
for our own individual self, family, or nation, but for
the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is
the best foundation both for our personal happiness and
for world peace, the equitable use of our natural resources,
and, through a concern for future generations, the proper
care for the environment. . . .
A new way of thinking has become the necessary condition
for responsible living and acting. If we maintain obsolete
values and beliefs, a fragmented consciousness, and a self-centered
spirit, we will continue to hold to outdated goals and behaviors.
Such an attitude by a large number of people would block
the entire transition to an interdependent yet peaceful
and cooperative global society.
If we look back at the development in the twentieth century,
the most devastating cause of human suffering, of deprivation
of human dignity, freedom, and peace has been the culture
of violence in resolving differences and conflicts. In some
ways the twentieth century can be called the century of
war and bloodshed. The challenge before us, therefore, is
to make our new century a century of dialogue and of peaceful
In human societies there will always be differences of
views and interests. But the reality today is that we are
all interdependent and have to coexist on this small planet.
Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving
differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals
or nations, is through dialogue. The promotion of
a culture of dialogue and nonviolence for the future of
humankind is thus an important task of the international
community. It is not enough for governments to endorse the
principle of nonviolence or hold it high without any appropriate
action to promote it.
It is also natural that we should face obstacles in pursuit
of our goals. But if we remain passive, making no effort
to solve the problems we meet, conflicts will arise and
hindrances will grow. Transforming these obstacles into
opportunities for positive growth is a challenge to our
human ingenuity. To achieve this requires patience, compassion,
and the use of our intelligence.
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