The Dalaï Lama – Compassion: The Foundation Of Wellbeing
'Compassion' and 'wellbeing' are everyday terms that are being bandied about quite a lot recently – but how often do we stop to think about what they might really mean? According to his holiness the Dalai Lama, who I had the good fortune to see talk at the O2 this weekend:
“Compassion is a marvel of human nature, a precious inner resource and the foundation of our wellbeing and the harmony of our societies.”
He also believes that we all have the responsibility to build a happy humanity and through inner peace will come world peace.
I’m not sure I have ever been so moved during a speech as I was on Saturday. Avuncular in demeanour and humorous too (at the beginning he facetiously asked his translator – ‘What am I meant to be talking about? Ah yes, compassion!’) this mentally and physically agile 80 year old man not only practices what he preaches but it actually emanates from his very being; and even though you are amongst thousands you feel like he is reaching into your soul and talking directly to you. Drawing on decades of life experience and his extensive practice of meditation, he gave a brilliantly lucid talk on what it really means to have compassion, which I will try and paraphrase as succinctly as I can. I took six pages of notes so forgive me for being verbose!
“You are just one of a seven billion human beings but mentally, emotionally and physically we are all the same. Be kind to animals – they recognise affection. We ourselves are social animals and we need warm-heartedness for our health too. Stress and anxiety cause disease. Compassion and positive thinking can cure all.
My generation believed that force brings personal victory. Because of this we have created a lot of problems in this world. But it is possible to change the future if we think logically and act tirelessly. If we plan properly this century can be more compassionate. Through inner peace, world peace.
The time has come, we have to seriously think about how to educate in a secular way. Each of us need to believe that compassion is the basis for a happy society.
Inner beauty is more important than external beauty. The secret to a happy marriage is inner beauty. Please pay more attention to your inner beauty – compassion is the foundation for wellbeing.”
At this point the Dalai was asked some questions by Daniel Goleman, the author of ‘A Force For Good – The Dalai Lama’s Vision For Our World’.
Q: “I heard that you listen to the BBC news every morning. How do you keep from getting depressed?”
“Humans have problems – when I see bullying or murder I just think we need to work a bit harder. Sometimes I am sad but then I only think we need to work harder. The news only reports the bad, if thousands of children experience a compassionate act it is not reported because the practice of kindness we take for granted. The media have the responsibility to balance the negative and the positive. Basic human nature is negative. Parents should be careful with violent computer games. And they should spend more time with their children.”
Q: “How can we be compassionate with ‘evil’ people?”
A: “We need to make a distinction – that person is still a human being who deserves love. We need to be unbiased about who we show our love to. Politics can be an instrument to solve society’s problems but sometimes this gives rise to self-centred motivation. Your mind should be open and unbiased.”
Q: “What can the individual do to remain optimistic in the face of climate change, war and the widening gap between the rich and the poor?”
A: “We all have the responsibility to create a happy humanity. By the end of the century the population will have reached 10 billion. For your own interests you need to take care of other people’s interests. A oneness of humanity. If you share your individual happiness with ten people and they share with ten people, it is the ripple effect. To change humanity – start with the individual.
You are your own master . . . so think seriously.”
At this point Ian Cummings, Great British Bake Off 2015 contestant and the Dalai’s official UK photographer, presented the Dalai with a cake to celebrate his 80th birthday. When asked how he felt he said:
“Every day is a birthday. When you go to sleep your cells renew themselves in seven hours so when you wake up, another birthday!”
The Dalai’s optimism, peacefulness and mischievous giggle are all highly contagious and on a personal level I will strive to take this positive feeling with me and pay it forward, as like him I really believe in the ripple effect.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”