As a 24 year old, I struggle each day to find meaning and happiness in life. So, when I heard that the world’s ‘Happiest Guru’ Dalai Lama himself was going to deliver a lecture Human Approach to World Peace, I willed myself out of my cozy bed at six in the morning and made my way to the insti. Hordes of people flocked to the massive SAC building from all corners of Insti on a rainy Tuesday morning. It was a packed audience that greeted His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in the Student Activity Centre at 9:00 a.m. yesterday.
True to his nature, the Dalai Lama filled the room with laughter and happiness the moment he stepped onto the stage; upon receiving a fruit basket as gift from the Director, Dr. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, he studied it with much interest and exclaimed “Is this a decoration or something eatable?!” In his welcome address to the Dalai Lama, Prof. Ramamurthi jovially told the students that for once he was glad that they had cut class to attend the lecture.
For those who missed this wonderfully insightful lecture, we have captured the essence of the lecture below.
At the very outset of his lecture, the Dalai Lama stated that a “happy humanity” is the very purpose of God’s creation; scientifically, it has been found that basic human nature is more compassionate and positive. Our mind works with the sensory consciousness. When we are sleeping, we reach the dream state. When we reach the state of deep sleep, we retain a subtle level of consciousness. At the time of death too, the deepest consciousness remains but even the most subtle level of consciousness doesn’t go hand in hand with destructive emotions. As basic human nature is positive and compassionate, the destructive emotions are not a part of our basic nature. If basic nature is negative, there is not much hope. Therefore, it follows that a mind that is more compassionate and affectionate would lead to a better body, a happy body!
According to the Dalai Lama, the 21st century is witnessing a lot of violence and it is our responsibility to build a happy century; if we make a sincere effort to eliminate destructive emotions which cause sorrow, this century can be the “Century of World Peace”. While lauding India for having a secular Constitution, he stated his own view on secularism; being secular means respecting all religions as well as the non-believers.
The Dalai Lama then went on to explain his three commitments in life: commitment to promote a sense of one-ness, commitment to promote religious harmony and the commitment to preserve Tibetan ecology.
Dalai Lama’s commitment as a human being is to promote a sense of oneness among all others. Everyone wants to lead a happy life and everyone has a right to achieve happiness. However, differences on the basis of race, nationality, etc. may lead to negative emotions which can be a source of conflict. However, if we consider that we are the same beings on this planet, then there won’t be any differences and the world can be a happier place!
Dalai Lama’s commitment as a ‘son of India’ is to promote religious harmony because all religions promote the practice of love, tolerance and compassion. According to the Dalai Lama, India is the only nation where all the major religions live together with respect; Indians have a thousand year old tradition of religious harmony. Dalai Lama considers himself the longest guest of the Indian government and as a messenger of India, he wants to promote the ideals of ahimsa (non-violence) and secularism.
Dalai Lama’s third commitment is to serve the Tibetans and to promote the preservation of Tibetan ecology and culture. Tibet, which is home to glacier ranges, is the geographical source for many of the rivers in North India and China. He expressed concern that Tibetan glaciers are melting faster due to global warming and we need to act on this. He also said that Tibetan culture has a rich history of a thousand years which promotes non-violence and peace.
The Dalai Lama answered several interesting questions at the end of his lecture.
How does one do a noble deed without expecting a result?
The Dalai Lama said that treating everyone equally and not considering their attitude is the way to do a deed without expecting a result. When deeds are accompanied by attachment, it induces bias and hatred due to expectations.
How do you define success?
A successful person is one who has a meaningful life and serves others.
Who are your role models?
For the Dalai Lama, his role model is his mother. She was very kind- “I never saw my mother’s angry face…My father was very short-tempered.” He jokingly added that although “all mothers are kind, there are some exceptions!”
He also mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King among his role models.
Would the future Dalai Lama be a woman?
This was a question that the Dalai Lama had often been asked before. He replied that as women have more capacity to be compassionate, the next Dalai Lama can certainly be a woman.
What is your greatest discovery in the journey of life?
His first reaction was “I don’t know!” Then, he added that everything is interdependent and nothing exists independently.
As the lecture ended, the Director offered him a memento on behalf of the institute. He in turn draped a khata, the traditional Tibetan scarf, around the Director. The EML student reps present on the stage were pleasantly surprised when His Holiness presented a scarf and blessed each of them individually. He moved everybody present with this little act of kindness.
With that, the Buddha of Compassion left us to ponder all that he had told us. As I made my way out of the SAC building, I felt happy and content, determined to practise more compassion in my life.
Photo credits: Keyur Vohra & The Extra Mural Lectures Team