The Dalai Lama gives a lecture on Wellbeing and Resilience

On January 22nd, the 14th Dalai Lama gave a lecture on Wellbeing and Resilience:

“India has encouraged the notions of ‘ahimsa’ and ‘karuna’ for thousands of years. Whether a course of action is non-violent or not depends on the motivation that underlies it. If you do something out of anger, it’s likely to be violent. If you are motivated by ‘karuna’ or compassion, your actions will be non-violent. I believe India has the opportunity to combine these qualities of compassion and non-violence with modern education.
Scientists are keen to learn more about the mind in general, but especially how to achieve peace of mind. In the last century, Mahatma Gandhi set an example to the world of the effectiveness of non-violence to achieve your goals. In this century, those who are young today will have the opportunity to demonstrate how to maintain peace of mind.
Many people talk about establishing world peace and although weapons reductions and curtailing the arms trade have a part to play, they will only come into effect if we can first bring about peace within ourselves. We should hold discussions to learn about other people’s points of view and when we face problems, we should settle them through dialogue.”

His Holiness explained that being physically well also depends on our emotional state. Being at peace with ourselves supports our physical well-being. He quoted an ancient Indian master who gave useful practical advice in relation to this. First analyse the situation that confronts you. If there is a solution to the problem, you should have the courage to put it into effect. If there is no solution, you’re better to accept that that’s how it is. Letting yourself become angry or frustrated won’t help. This is a realistic stance to adopt.
Asked whether he thought peace and stability would return to the world, His Holiness asserted they would. “Many of the problems we face are of our own creation. They come about because we insist on seeing people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. We need instead to recognise the oneness of humanity. Since religion sometimes causes problems, we need to adopt the secular attitude towards it that we find in India. This means showing respect towards all who follow a spiritual path, as well as those who have none. It’s not a question of there being only one truth and one religion — there are many religions as well as many aspects of the truth.
We face two kinds of problems, some, as I said are our own creation. Others like the extreme weather events, the floods and forest fires, that are part of the climate crisis, are beyond our control. To address climate change, we need to avoid using fossil fuels and to turn to renewable sources of energy that rely on the wind and the power of the sun.”
“Some friends have told me that if we do nothing, global warming will result in many of our sources of water drying up. Some have observed that Tibet could become an arid desert like much of Afghanistan. The situation is very serious.”
His Holiness was invited to comment on the practice of mindfulness. He observed that to be mindful is to be alert to our physical, verbal and mental behaviour. To be mindful of our speech means that we take care not to use words that will hurt others or that will give rise to suspicion.
We can also be mindful of our physical actions. Jain monks, for example, practise intense mindfulness of how they walk in order not to do other creatures, even tiny insects, any harm. Mindfulness is about being alert to the effect of our actions on others. Consequently, we can even be mindful of how we smile in order not to make our companions uncomfortable.
If we become familiar with being mindful in our waking lives, we will even become mindful in our dreams. His Holiness stressed that students should be mindful of their studies, focussing their minds on the subject they’re studying and paying attention to what their teacher is saying.
There are all sorts of actions that we do out of habit which we can change by becoming more mindful. This will enable us, for example, to be more mindful of our relations with our friends and fellow students.
Asked if he had one message about well-being and resilience he would like to convey, His Holiness answered that he constantly tries to promote the idea of the oneness of humanity and seeing our fellow human beings as like brothers and sisters. This is the basis for cultivating concern for the well-being of others and so creating a happier more peaceful world.”
“Education is not just a matter of learning about material things. We also have to learn how to tackle our emotions. In this connection, it’s very useful to think about an observation made in quantum physics that nothing exists as it appears. From this we may conclude that whether we view people or things as good or bad is actually a mental projection. Because of the way people and things appear to us we respond to them with anger or attachment. The idea that some are friends and others are enemies is a partisan view based on our own mental projections.”