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 his introduction, the Dalai Lama spoke of love and compassion, something that all major world religions, he stated, teach 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 sees 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 are inherited.
The Dalai Lama reminded us that humans are social creatures who desire for community (to be seen, to be heard) and that a warm, loving heart not only leads to good health but to more friends through altruistic action. He reinforced that pleasures derived from sensorial experiences — your delicious dinner on the table, that great smelling perfume or fashionable new wardrobe, that series you’re binge watching or that wonderful music in your 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 perhaps even if you’re one of what he described as the one billion non-believers on Earth), the firm conviction of love and compassion for yourself and for those around you — in your homes and offices, in your neighborhoods and communities, in your 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 on this but to take loving action on behalf of our fellow humans, every day.
If this great spiritual leader and, in fact, all of the world’s spiritual leaders, teachers and philosophers of yesterday, today and tomorrow point toward love and compassion as the way to achieving peace and happiness within both oneself and the world, then can’t we all agree to agree that this be our path forward?
Originally published at www.jrny.life