His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Periodically the Dalai Lama teaches in America, Europe and elsewhere offering one to three day sessions. To follow his teaching schedule go to our "Links" page for redirection to his website.
"Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion." -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "Kindness, Clarity, and Insight" by Snow Lion Publications
"In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom", available from Snow Lion Publications.
"Human beings by nature want happiness and do not want suffering. With that feeling everyone tries to achieve happiness and tries to get rid of suffering, and everyone has the basic right to do this. In this way, all here are the same, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, Easterner or Westerner, believer or non-believer, and within believers whether Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and so on. Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value we are all the same."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "Kindness, Clarity, and Insight."
"When receiving the teachings, it is important to have the correct attitude. It is not practicing the Dharma properly to listen with the intention of gaining material advantage or reputation. Neither should our goal be higher rebirth in the next life, nor should we be wishing only for our own liberation from samsara. These are all attitudes we should reject. Instead, let us listen to the teachings with the determined wish to attain the state of omniscience for the sake of all beings."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama from "The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom", available from Snow Lion Publications.
"Self-discipline, although difficult, and not always easy while combating negative emotions, should be a defensive measure. At least we will be able to prevent the advent of negative conduct dominated by negative emotion. That is 'shila', or moral ethics. Once we develop this by familiarizing ourselves with it, along with mindfulness and conscientiousness, eventually that pattern and way of life will become a part of our own life."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "Live in a Better Way: Reflections on Truth, Love and Happiness", available from Snow Lion Publications.
"It is our custom to say that someone is "lucky" or "unlucky" if they meet with fortunate or unfortunate circumstances, respectively. It is however, too simplistic to think in terms of random "luck." Even from a scientific point of view, this is not a sufficient explanation. Should something unfortunate happen, we immediately think, "Oh, how unlucky!" And yet this is not sufficient to explain what happened- there must be a cause. We seem to cal "luck" that factor which overrides external conditions to bring about a positive situation. But that too is a cause; it is an inner cause, which we call "merit."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "Answers: Discussions with Western Buddhists", published from Snow Lion Publications.
"With a selfish attitude, oneself is important, and others are not so important. According to Shantideva's advice, a technique to help in turning this attitude around is to imagine- in front of yourself as an unbiased observer- your own selfish self on one side and a limited number of other beings on the other side- ten, fifty, or a hundred. On one side is your proud, selfish self, and on the other side is a group of poor, needy people. You are, in effect, in the middle- as an unbiased, third person. Now, judge. Is this one, single, selfish person more important? Or is the group of people more important? Think. Will you join this side or that side? Naturally, if you are a real human being, your heart will go with the group because the number is greater and they are more needy. The other one is just a single person, proud and stupid. Your feeling naturally goes with the group. By thinking in this way, selfishness gradually decreases, and respect of others grows. This is is the way to practice."
"If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.
"Human beings will continue to deceive and overpower one another. Basically, everyone exists in the very nature of suffering, so to abuse or mistreat each other is futile. The foundation of all spiritual practice is love. That you practice this well is my only request."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom."
"Love and kindness are the very basis of society. If we lose these feelings, society will face tremendous difficulties; the survival of humanity will be endangered."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness", published by Snow Lion Publications.
"No religion basically believes that material progress alone is sufficient for humankind. All religions believe in forces beyond material progress. All agree that it is very important and worthwhile to make a strong effort to serve human society. "To do this, it is important that we understand each other. In the past, due to narrow-mindedness and other factors, there has sometimes been discord between religious groups. This should not happen again. If we look deeply into the value of a religion in the context of the worldwide situation, we can easily transcend these unfortunate happenings. For, there are many areas of common ground on which we can have harmony. Let us just be side by side- helping, respecting, and understanding each other - in common effort to serve humankind. The aim of human society must be the compassionate betterment of human beings."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "Kindness, Clarity, and Insight", published by Snow Lion Publications.
"We find that if a person lives a very selfish life and is never concerned about the welfare of others, he will have few friends, and people will not take much notice of him. At the time of his death, there will not be many people who will regret his passing. Some deceptive and negative persons may be very powerful and wealthy, and therefore some people- for economic reasons and so forth- might portray themselves as friends, but they will speak against such person behind their back. When these negative person die, these very same "friends" may rejoice at their death. "On the other hand, many people mourn and regret the death of a person who is very kind and always altruistic and who works for the benefit of others. We find that altruism, as well as the person who possesses it, is regarded as the friend of all, and it becomes the object of veneration and respect by others."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "Path to Bliss: A Practical Guide to Stages of Meditation", published by Snow Lion Publications.
"Before we can generate compassion and love, it is important to have a clear understanding of what we understand compassion and love to be. In simple terms, compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to such essential things in life as hope, courage, determination, and inner strength. In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are seen as two aspects of the same thing: Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Compassionate Life", available from Snow Lion Publications.
"With the realization of ones own potential and self-confidence in ones ability, one can build a better world. According to my own experience, self-confidence is very important. That sort of confidence is not a blind one; it is an awareness of ones own potential. On that basis, human beings can transform themselves by increasing the good qualities and reducing the negative qualities."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom'
"I find that because of modern technological evolution and our global economy, and as a result of the great increase in population, our world has greatly changed: it has become much smaller. However, our perceptions have not evolved at the same pace; we continue to cling to old national demarcations and the old feelings of 'us' and 'them'. "War seems to be part of the history of humanity. As we look at the situation of our planet in the past, countries, regions and even villages were economically independent of one another. Under those circumstances, the destruction of our enemy might have been a victory for us. There was a a relevance to violence and war. However, today we are so interdependent that the concept of war has become out dated. When we face problems or disagreements today, we have to arrive at solutions through dialogue. Dialogue is the only appropriate method. One-sided victory is no longer relevant. We must work to resolve conflicts in a spirit of reconciliation and always keep in mind the interests of others. We cannot destroy our neighbors! We cannot ignore their interests! Doing so would ultimately cause us to suffer. I therefore think that the concept of violence is now unsuitable. Nonviolence is the appropriate method."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life', available from Snow Lion Publications.
"The mind's own basic nature is ultimately neutral. It can be influenced by negative as well as by positive emotions. Take, for instance, those who have a short tempter. When I was young I was quite short-tempered. However, the mood never lasted for twenty-four hours. If negative emotions are in the very nature of our mind, then as long as the mind is functioning the anger must remain. That, however is not the case. Similarly, positive emotions are also not in the nature of the mind. The mind is something neutral, reflecting all sorts of different experiences or phenomena."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'Live in a Better Way: Reflections on Truth, Love and Happiness', available from Snow Lion Publications.
"Sometimes we feel that one individual's action is very insignificant. Then we think, of course, that effects should come from channeling or from a unifying movement. But the movement of the society, community or group of people means joining individuals. Society means a collection of individuals, so that initiative must come from individuals. Unless each individual develops a sense of responsibility, the whole community cannot move. So therefore, it is very essential that we should not feel that individual effort is meaningless- you should not feel that way. We should make an effort."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Dalai Lama's Book of Love and Compassion', available from Snow Lion Publications.
"According to Buddhism, there is a commensurate relationship between cause and effect where pain and pleasure are concerned. The immediate cause is karma. Karma means action. Tomorrow's events depend very much on today's actions, this year's events on last year's, while this century's events are linked with those of the previous centuries. The actions of previous generations affect the lives of the generations that follow. This is also a kin of karma. However, there is a difference between actions carried out by a group of people or sentient beings jointly, and actions carried out by single person. In individual cases, the actions of the earlier part of one's life have an effect on the latter part of one's life."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'Live in a Better Way: Reflections on Truth, Love and Happiness', available from Snow Lion publications.
"Our practice of the Dharma should be a continual effort to attain a state beyond suffering. It should not simply be a moral activity whereby we avoid negative ways and engage in positive ones. In our practice of the Dharma, we seek to transcend the situation in which we all find ourselves: victims of our own mental afflictions- such as attachment, hatred, pride, greed, and so forth-are mental states that cause us to behave in ways that bring about all of our unhappiness and suffering. While working to achieve inner peace and happiness, it is helpful to think of them as our inner demons, for like demons, they can haunt us, causing nothing but misery. That state beyond such negative emotions and thoughts, beyond all sorrow, is called nirvana."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life", available from Snow Lion Publications.
"An affectionate disposition not only makes the mind more peaceful and calm, but it affects our body in a positive way too. On the other hand, hatred, jealousy and fear upset our peace of mind, make us agitated and affect our body adversely. Even our body needs peace of mind and is not suited to agitation. This shows that an appreciation for peace of mind is in our blood." "Just as we should cultivate more gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment. "This, however, is not just a question of morality or ethics, but also a question of our own survival. For this generation and for future generations, the environment is very important. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, we may receive some benefit today, but in the long run, we will suffer, as will our future generations. When the environment changes, the climatic condition also changes. When the climate changes dramatically, the economy and many other things change. Our physical health will be greatly affected. Again, conservation is not merely a question of morality, but a question of our own survival."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Dalai
Lama, A Policy of Kindness', published by Snow Lion Publications.
"Meditation is a 'familiarization' of the mind with an object of meditation. In terms of how the mind is familiarized with the object, there are many types of meditation. In one type, the mind is generated into the entity of a particular type of consciousness, as in meditating compassion or meditating wisdom. In such meditation you are seeking to generate your own mind into a compassionate consciousness or a wisdom consciousness- compassion and wisdom not being the object on which you are meditating, but that entity into which you are seeking to transform your consciousness through a process of familiarization."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'Kindness, Clarity, and Insight', published by Snow Lion Publications.
"Three qualities enable people to understand the teachings: objectivity, which means an open mind; intelligence, which is the critical faculty to discern the real meaning by checking the teachings of Buddha; and interest and commitment, which means enthusiasm." -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom'.
"There are two types of prayer. I think prayer is, for the most part, simply reminders in your daily practice. So, the verses look like prayers, but are actually reminders of how to speak, how to deal with other problems, other people, things like that in daily life. For example, in my own daily practice, prayer, if I am leisurely, takes about four hours. Quite long. For the most part, I think my practice is reviewing: compassion, forgiveness, and, of course, shunyata. Then, in my case, the tantric practices including visualization of death and rebirth. In my daily practice, the deity mandala, deity yoga, and the visualization of death, rebirth, and intermediate state is done eight times. So, eight times death is eight times rebirth. I am supposed to be preparing for my death. When actual death comes, whether I will succeed or not, still, I don't know. "Then, some portion of prayer is to appeal to Buddha. Although we do not consider Buddha as a Creator, at the same time we consider Buddha as a higher being who purified himself. So he has special energy, infinite energy or power. In certain ways, then, in this type of prayer, the appeal to Buddha can be seen as similar to the appeal to God as the Creator."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective', published by Snow Lion Publications.
"I think that every human being has an innate sense of "I". We cannot explain why that feeling is there, but it is. Along with it comes a desire for happiness and a wish to overcome suffering. This is quite justified: we have a natural right to achieve as much happiness as possible, and we also have the right to overcome suffering. "The whole of human history has developed on the basis of this feeling. In fact it is not limited to human beings; from the Buddhist point of view, even the tiniest insect has this feeling and, according to its capacity, is trying to gain some happiness and avoid unhappy situations." "We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom".
"Buddhism does not accept a theory of God, or a creator. According to Buddhism, one's own actions are the creator, ultimately. Some people say that, from a certain angle, Buddhism is not a religion but rather a science of mind. Religion has much involvement with faith. Sometimes it seems that there is quite a distance between a way of thinking based on faith and one entirely based on experiment, remaining skeptical. Unless you find something through investigation, you do not want to accept it as fact. From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind and not a religion. Buddhism can be a bridge between these two sides. Therefore, with this conviction I try to have closer ties with scientists, mainly in the fields of cosmology, psychology, neurobiology and physics. In these fields there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness", published by Snow Lion Publications.
"As we analyze our mental experiences, we recognize that the powerful emotions we possess (such as desire, hatred, and anger) tend not to bring us very profound or long-lasting happiness. Fulfilled desire may provide a sense of temporary satisfaction; however, the pleasure we experience upon acquiring a new car or home, for example, is usually short-lived. When we indulge our desires, they tend to increase in intensity and multiply in number. We become more demanding and less content, finding it more difficult to satisfy our needs. In the Buddhist view, hatred, anger, and desire are afflictive emotions, which simply means they tend to cause us discomfort. The discomfort arises from the mental unease that follows the expression of these emotions. A constant state of mental unsettledness can even cause us physical harm."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life, available from Snow Lion Publications.
"THE UNUSUAL ATTITUDE"
Your cultivation of love and great compassion should not be left in a state of mere imagination or wish alone; rather, a sense of responsibility, a genuine intention to engage in the task of relieving sentient beings of their sufferings and providing them with happiness, should be developed. It is important for a practitioner to work for and take upon himself or herself the responsibility of fulfilling this intention. The stronger your cultivation of compassion is, the more committed you will feel to taking this responsibility. Because of their ignorance, sentient beings do not know the right methods by which they can fulfill their aims. It is the responsibility of those who are equipped with this knowledge to fulfill the intention of working for their benefit."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from Path to Bliss: A Practical Guide to Stages of
Meditation, published by Snow Lion Publications.
"We often speak of the external enemy. For example, in my own case, our Chinese brothers and sisters are destroying Tibetan rights and, in that way, more suffering and anxiety develops. But no matter how forceful this is, it cannot destroy the supreme source of my happiness, which is my calmness of mind. This is something an external enemy cannot destroy. Our country can be invaded, our possessions can be destroyed, our friends can be killed, but these are secondary for our mental happiness. The ultimate source of my mental happiness is my peace of mind. Nothing can destroy this except my own anger."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom', available from Snow Lion Publications.
"As far as your personal requirements are concerned, the ideal is to have fewer involvements, fewer obligations, and fewer affairs, business or whatever. However, so far as the interest of the larger community is concerned, you must have as many involvements as possible and as many activities as possible."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom', available from Snow Lion Publications.
"In the Buddhist teachings on altruism and compassion, certain expressions are used such as "Disregard your own well-being and cherish the well-being of others." Such exhortations may sound intimidating, but it is important to understand these statements regarding the practice of voluntarily sharing someone else's pain and suffering in their proper context. Fundamentally, the basis on which you can build a sense of caring for others is the capacity to love yourself." -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'The Compassionate Life', available from Snow Lion Publications.
"The most important thing is practice in daily life; then you can know gradually the true value of religion. Doctrine is not meant for mere knowledge, but for the improvement of our minds. In order to do that, it must be part of our life. If you put religious doctrine in a building and when you leave the building depart from the practices, you cannot gain its value."
"The foundation for practicing the seven-point cause and effect method is cultivating a mind of equanimity. Without this foundation you will not be able to have an impartial altruistic view, because without equanimity you will always have partiality towards your relatives and friends. Realize that you should not have prejudice, hatred, or desire towards enemies, friends, or neutral persons, thus lay a very firm foundation of equanimity."
"When I was in Tibet I had little information, through books or from personal contact, about the nature and value of other traditions. Since I've become a refugee, I have had more opportunity to have closer contact with other traditions, mainly through individuals, and I have gained a much deeper understanding of their value. As a result, my attitude now is that each one is a valid religion. Of course, even from the philosophical viewpoint, I still believe that Buddhist philosophy is more sophisticated, that it has more variety or is more vast, but all other religions still have tremendous benefits or great potential. So on both bases, I think my attitude towards other religions is greatly changed. Today, wherever I go and whenever I meet someone who follows a different religion, I deeply admire their practice and I very sincerely respect their tradition."
"One of the characteristics of karmic theory is that there is a definite, commensurate relationship between cause and effect. There is no way that negative actions or unwholesome deeds can result in joy and happiness. Joy and happiness, by definition, are the results or fruits of wholesome actions. So from that point of view, it is possible for us to admire not so much the immediate action, but the real causes of joy."
"Consciousness will always be present, though a particular consciousness may cease. For example, the particular tactile consciousness that is present within this human body will cease when the body comes to an end. Likewise, consciousnesses that are influenced by ignorance, by anger or by attachment, these too will cease. But the basic, ultimate, innermost subtle consciousness will always remain. It has no beginning, and it will have not end."
"When the days become longer and there is more sunshine, the grass becomes fresh and, consequently, we feel very happy. On the other hand, in autumn, one leaf falls down and another leaf falls down. The beautiful plants become as if dead and we do not feel very happy. Why? I think it is because deep down our human nature likes construction, and does not like destruction. Naturally, every action which is destructive is against human nature. Constructiveness is the human way. Therefore, I think that in terms of basic human feeling, violence is not good. Non-violence is the only way."
"Judging by our own experiences in this life and those of others, it is very obvious that consciousness is a phenomenon susceptible to change and transformation. Due to the force of bad companionship and different conditions, people change for the worse, becoming very aggressive. Likewise we see human beings changing for the better, becoming more gentle, kind, and so forth. This is an indication that an impermanent phenomenon is changeable, and therefore is subject to transformation."
"One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness."
"So from the Buddhist viewpoint, in our daily life we are sometimes too sensitive toward minor things. At the same time, toward other major problems that can create long-term consequences, we are not so sensitive. Because of this, we find in the scriptures that ordinary people like ourselves are described as childlike or childish. In fact, the term 'jhipa' (Tib. 'byis pa'), or childish, is used in different ways: sometimes it is used in terms of age, which is the conventional usage; sometimes it is used for ordinary sentient beings, as opposed to the Arya beings, the superior beings. Then sometimes it is used to described people who are concerned only with affairs of this life and have no interest or regard for the affairs of their future life, or life after death. So, the tendency of our childish nature is to take small things too seriously and get easily offended, whereas when we are confronted with situations which have long-term consequences, we tend to take things less seriously."
"When approaching a technique like the Buddhist training of the mind, we must understand and appreciate the complexity of the task we are facing. Buddhist scriptures mention eighty-four thousand types of negative and destructive thoughts, which have eighty-four thousand corresponding approaches or antidotes. It is important not to have the unrealistic expectation that somehow, somewhere, we will find a single magic key that will help us eradicate all of these negativities. We need to apply many different methods over a long period of time in order to bring lasting results. Therefore, we need great determination and patience. It is wrong to expect that once you start Dharma practice, you'll become enlightened within a short period of time, perhaps in one week. This is unrealistic."
"Cyclic existence means bondage, and liberation means freedom from this bondage. ...The causes of cyclic existence are contaminated actions and afflictions. If the roots of the afflictions are eliminated and if new actions are not 'accumulated', since there are no affiliations to activate the predispositions of contaminated actions persisting from the past, the causes of cyclic existence have been eliminated. Then there is freedom from bondage. Some say that as long as one still has mental physical aggregates wrought by former contaminated actions and afflictions, one has a nirvana with remainder. When these no longer remain, there is a nirvana without remainder. 'Without remainder' means that there is no remainder of mental and physical aggregates wrought by contaminated actions and afflictions, but the continuum of consciousness and the continuum of uncontaminated mental and physical aggregates still exist. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged."-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom", available from Snow Lion Publications.