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Compassion, love are natural responses, Dalai Lama says in Princeton talk

During his Oct. 28, 2014, visit to Princeton University, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke with Princeton students in the afternoon during a program, “In the Service of All Nations.” The title refers to a speech by Princeton (and later U.S.) President Woodrow Wilson underscoring the university’s global role. (A blog entry about an earlier public lecture was posted Oct. 28, 2014.)

The following are maxims and reflections offered by the Dalai Lama during this second lecture in Princeton, N.J., on Oct. 28, 2014, often in response to student questions:

Compassion is a key value. Even animals show compassion, the strong will look after the weak. Even dogs, when they meet, show affinity for each other. They don’t compare collars, for instance!

Can you imagine hatred of all humanity? It’s not possible. Compassion, love are natural responses. Anger and hatred arise from particular circumstances. Our basic nature is to be more compassionate. Constant anger is very hurtful for our body.

From an evolutionary point of view, empathy and connection are our primary inclinations. We need a certain amount of hate and anger for survival, but they are not fundamental characteristics of humanity.

We must attack the root causes of inequality between rich and poor. Otherwise, our actions are unrealistic.

Happiness is the goal of life. Loving kindness is the source of happiness.

Modern education has the potential to open our eyes

A student asked: In our careers, should we aim for higher income doing what we don’t feel passionate about, or earn less doing what we love?

HH replied: This should be decided on a case by case basis. We all need money.  First take care of yourself, then others. If  you can’t stand on your own two feet, it is difficult to help other people.

A student asked: How can we get through to people with no interest in helping others?

HH replied: This is a real problem. The very existence of the  educational system is oriented toward the material, not inner values. You cannot change by force or law, but by volunteering. Voluntarily make inner values familiar, with positive emotions.

Asked about the media, HH said: People with no morals get more coverage. Scandal, killing: these are big news. Caring for people is not news. We can change this through education.  Think of the money spent on clothes, beauty products, etc. The heart is valued only at Christmas time!

Asked about social justice in the wake of Ferguson, HH said that many forces are at play: The long-term goal is to improve life through education. We have to make effort, mainly through education, to achieve the same goal but through different professions. Toy factories, video games: less of that. Then better world. You cannot change a materialistic life overnight. One or two individuals can’t do it alone.

A student asked whether she had to go back to her country and provide service.

HH replied: Look at the larger picture, plus consider what you can do (what your gifts are and how they can best be used). When you take care of your teeth, you take care of all of them, not just one!

Take a holistic view. If you look at only the negative, it will make you angry. Develop a method, some sense of developing your courage, so you can help.

A student asked how to deal with large entities such as corporations and nations.

HH replied: Consider your own body, then treat others that way. The entire creation of God preserves, respects, and takes care of others. We have no dialogue with God, only with creatures. The human mind is quite flexible.  We can create that attitude with groups as well as with individuals. Through training and attitude we can change.

A student asked about service and compassion.

HH said:  Service is seen as going to a third world country. But alleviating suffering on a small scale also is service. It is not always physical. The mental level is more important.

When your mental attitude is happy you can reduce physical suffering. When your mental attitude is fearful, you won’t be able to reduce suffering. Scientists are discovering that mental attitudes and training can actually change the brain.  Education itself is not about sensory gratification, but cultivating the mind.

Asked another question about Ferguson, HH said: Ancient Indian psychology teaches that destructive emotions are sudden, positive emotions are cultivated. When the immune system stops, the virus enters. So mental attitude must be cultivated through training. We need more study of emotion. There is a whole map of emotions: we need to get the whole picture.

A student asked how to convert intentions into acts of service (after graduation).

HH replied: It depends on the depth of your conviction. If your intentions are a fad, they won’t last. On my own path, we try to exercise compassion and help others. Habituate yourself to this way of thinking. You have to start somewhere. A professor once started out learning the alphabet. A pilot is trained to fly a jump jet so it appears to be effortless. This is all about practice. Unless you are really well trained, you might pull the wrong switch!

(Reported by Linda Brown Holt. Some of these comments may have been rephrased in places to emphasize meaning. They do not constitute a transcript of the Dalai Lama’s talk. This blog entry is based on the writer’s notes and recollections.)

Posted on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 06:34PM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment | References10 References

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