A call to action by the Dalai Lama — show love and compassion to all living beings, every day.
This morning in the foothills of the Himalayas as the sun warmed the cool November air, lifting the misty haze from the peaceful peaks surrounding McLeod Ganj, India, we were fortunate to join a talk by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama at the town’s Main Temple, which also serves as his residence-in-exile when he’s not traveling the world. In the introduction to his two-hour teaching, the Dalai Lama spoke of love and compassion, something that all major world religions promote, he stated, along with tolerance, forgiveness, patience, etc. Referencing this modern age’s great many material developments, he pointed out regretfully that instead of helping others, these gains in economy and possession, science and technology, have turned out to create only more pain and suffering, hate and violence, attachment and jealousy amongst us all. Furthermore, he recognized that religion can all too often be used as the cause of division, referencing the current persecution of Muslims in northern Myanmar by its own Buddhist citizens and going so far as to say that even he doesn’t actively propagate or encourage others to follow the teachings of Buddha. For him, faith is an individual matter unlike societal cultures, which we tend to inherit.
The Dalai Lama reminded us that pleasures derived from sensorial experiences — that delicious dinner on the table, that great smelling perfume or fashionable new wardrobe, that series we’re binge watching or that wonderful music in our ears — are all temporary, but whenever we train our minds through prayer or meditation, stillness or study, we can find contentment through non-attachment. For when we reduce our bonds to the fleeting physical and emotional, we ultimately reduce pain both in ourselves and in others; love is what outlasts, withstands, and connects us all.
Now, no matter where our faith may lie or in which house of worship we might express our devotion (or even if we’re one of what he described as the estimated one billion non-believers on Earth), the firm conviction of love and compassion for ourselves and for those around us — in our homes and offices, in our neighborhoods and communities, in our churches or synagogues, temples or mosques — is what will finally bring happiness, healing and harmony to this world. He encouraged the gathered crowd to do more than pray or meditate but take loving, compassionate action on behalf of our fellow humans, every day.
If this great spiritual leader and in fact, as he himself stated, all of the world’s great spiritual leaders, teachers and philosophers of yesterday, today and tomorrow point toward love and compassion as the way to achieving peace and happiness both within ourselves and within the world, then can’t we all agree to agree that this be our path forward?