My English is very poor, and also my English is getting older, so it is difficult to express myself fully. So occasionally I will use my translator.
Now, my own presentation: compassion in society and the case of Tibet. I believe that in human actions, the prime mover is motivation. So the immediate result is that it is very, very important to tackle the symptoms of these things. In the long run, it is very, very important, I feel, to look at motivation and whether there is a possibility to change that motivation. That, in the long run, is very, very crucial. So long as negative motivation or negative emotion is not changed, then although there are certain rules and certain methods to stop or to check these, through various ways human beings have the ability to find some ways to express their negative feeling. Therefore, in the long run, we need to look at our motivation, and try to change motivation.
That means: try to cultivate the right kind of motivation, and try to reduce negative motivation.
Basically, the concept of ‘I’ is the key thing. The things that surround you, all these ultimately are designated, so the designator is supreme. Something like the center of the whole universe, I feel, is the self. That’s why I think, like in many countries, their own country is the center of the universe. So that is, I think, very true. Within the country, ultimately, the person himself or herself is the center of the whole universe. It is true. Now, that self wants happiness, does not want suffering. And, generally speaking, violence produces suffering. Compassion or non-violence brings us happiness. Therefore, violence we consider to be negative, and non-violence we consider to be something positive. I think the hurricane that happened in Central America [Hurricane Mitch], these kinds of violent things are without any motivation. So we call it a natural disaster. That we can’t avoid. But the other type of violence, which is created by humans ourselves, there motivation is involved. Those kinds of violence, which are a result of human motivation, those we can change, we can reduce; and there is the possibility to eliminate them. So therefore, we need to try to change our attitude, try to cultivate the right kind of motivation.
How? Through which method? I feel that prayer or religious belief is to some extent useful, and can be helpful. But basically, I feel that simply awareness-awareness of the consequences of the long term and short term: if we make clear the negative consequences for the long term, if we make them clear to people, I think eventually people can develop a clear realization that these negative things, these violent activities, are bad because they bring painful experience and unhappiness. Now again, what is violence and non-violence? We can’t judge. We can’t make a clear demarcation between violence and non-violence on a superficial basis. It is related with motivation. Out of sincere motivation, certain verbal actions, as well as physical actions, look more wrathful, more violent, harsher; but in essence, because these activities come out of sincere motivation or compassion or a sense of caring, they are essentially non-violent. On the other hand: with negative motivation, try to cheat, try to exploit, try to deceive, and use nice words, a big smile-although an artificial smile, some kind of smile-and with some gift, it looks like non-violence, a friendly gesture. But because of the motivation, I think it is the worst kind of violence. So I feel that in certain cases violence can be said to be a manifestation or expression of compassion, although non-violence is actually the expression of compassion. Therefore, the concepts of non-violence and compassion are very, very close.
So, in order to promote non-violence and reduce violence, ultimately we have to address motivation through education, through awareness. Here, I want to share with you about the concept of war. I feel, I believe, that in ancient time, when people remained separately, more or less independently, there was no need for other people’s cooperation. You can survive, you can live, completely independently. Under those circumstances, the concept of war, destruction of your enemy, and the victory of your side were a real possibility. Now, today’s world is no longer that kind of reality. Your survival, your success, your progress, is very much related with others’ well being. Therefore, under these circumstances, even your enemy-who is politically different, or for some other reason you categorize as an enemy-in the economic field and in some other fields, you are still very much inter-dependent. Under these circumstances, destruction of your enemy is actually destruction of yourself. Judging from that viewpoint, the concept of “we” and “they” no longer exists. So the concept of war, destruction of the other side, is not relevant to today’s situation. Therefore, firstly, I think it is very important to make clear the concept of war: not only is it a painful experience, but also it is self-destruction.
And then when we talk about non-violence, peace, this does not mean that we remain indifferently, passively. Problems and contradictions always remain there. I believe that as long as human beings remain there, as long as human intelligence remains there, some kind of conflict, some kind of contradiction always remains there. And if we look at contradictions or different ideas, they are not necessarily negative. Even if we look at our body, there are many elements co-existing. These elements are opposing one another, they are contradictory. I think the forces, which contradict one another, are the basis of further development. Things remain more balanced, and that is healthy. Therefore, as long as this smart human brain remains there, some kind of contradiction is always there. Even within one single person. Because of the power of imagination, the power of vision, you get some kind of different ideas: in the morning, something different; and in the evening, something different. There are big differences-contradiction. Sometimes, the contradictions are so big, and if you have no ability to overcome that, then suicide also sometimes happens. So, contradictions, disagreements, are always there.
We need some kind of method or technique to overcome that contradiction. That, I feel, is compromise. Today’s reality: the only way to solve a problem is compromise. Since my interest is very much related with the others’ interests, you can’t sacrifice others’ interests. Therefore, compromise, 50-50. If possible, one’s own side 60%, other side 40%! If possible. I think that’s the best. Otherwise, in reality there is no possibility of 100% victory for oneself. But still, I feel that while reality is much changed, our perception, our way of thinking, still remains behind. We are carrying a certain way of thinking which is essentially an old way of thinking. I think from that way, “my nation,” “their nation,” “my religion,” “other religion”-sometimes these have the beautiful name “patriotism.” With too much narrow-minded patriotism, nationalism, sometimes people become mad. Still, the situation in which we live is much changed, but the people who are in that situation, their thinking still is something a little different. So sometimes I feel that this is one of the causes of our unnecessary pain, unnecessary problems. Therefore, we need education that the concept of violence is very bad, that it is not a realistic way to solve the problem, and that compromise is the only realistic way to solve the problem. I think that to the child’s mind, the younger generation, the new generation, right from the beginning we have to make clear this reality. In that way, I think our whole attitude towards oneself, towards the world, towards others, can be a more healthy attitude. This I usually call “inner disarmament.” Without inner disarmament, it is very difficult to achieve genuine, lasting world peace.
So, firstly, I think it is extremely important to look inward and try to promote the right kind of attitude, which is based on awareness or reality. I think the main thing is a sense of caring for one another. A sense of caring for others is actually the best way of caring for oneself. Because human nature is a social animal, I think in simple things, we need human companions. We need human companions with a genuine human smile. That provides us comfort, satisfaction. As I mentioned yesterday, the moment you think of others, this automatically opens our inner door. Through that way you can communicate with others very easily, without any difficulties. The moment you think just of yourself and disregard others, then because of your own attitude, you also get the feeling that other people also have a similar attitude towards you. That brings suspicion, fear. Result? You yourself lose inner calmness. Therefore, usually I say that selfishness is basically right-as I mentioned earlier, self, and the happiness of that self, is very right. It’s our original right. Also, we have every right to overcome suffering. So that’s right. Judging from that, of course that kind of selfishness is right. But selfishness that leads to no hesitation to harm another, to exploit another, that kind of selfishness is blind selfishness. Therefore, I sometimes jokingly describe: if we are selfish, we should be “wise” selfish rather than “foolish” selfish. I feel that the moment you take a sense of caring for others, that brings inner strength. Inner strength brings us inner tranquillity, more self-confidence. So, through these things, even though your surroundings may not be friendly or may not be positive, still you can sustain your peace of mind. That much, according to my own little experience, I can tell you.
So, tranquillity or peace of mind: if we believe or expect it through money or through power, this is wrong. The ultimate potential to create peace of mind, a happy person, a successful future, a happy future, much depends on our inner qualities, not on money or external facilities. Of course, external facilities, monies, these are useful, we need them. But they are not the ultimate source or condition of our inner peace. Therefore, through inner disarmament we can develop some kind of a healthy mental attitude. That also is very beneficial for health. With peace of mind, a calm mind, your body elements become more balanced. Constant worry, constant fear, agitation of mind, are very bad for health. So, therefore, peace of mind not only brings peace and tranquillity in our mind, but also has a very good effect for our body. With inner disarmament, now we need external disarmament. As I mentioned earlier, according to reality, no longer is there room for war, for destruction. From the sense of compassion, from a compassionate viewpoint, destruction, killing others, destruction, discriminating against even one’s enemy: today’s enemy, if you treat them well, the next day will be a good friend.
Also, I think now we have a bigger issue. Because of the population, and because of other factors, environmental problems, these are beyond national boundaries. These are not a question of my nation’s survival; these are a question of the survival of humanity. These bigger issues, I think these are our common responsibility to tackle. Compared to these bigger things, small, small things within ourself are minor. They are minor. Once all the bigger issues are solved, then there will be time to discuss-even, if necessary, to quarrel-among ourselves concerning these small, small things.
Therefore, external disarmament is, I feel, very, very important. Already, there is some movement there. Now, my dream is that one day the whole world should be demilitarized, but you cannot achieve that overnight. Also, you cannot achieve that without a proper, systematic plan. However, it is very important to make some kind of a clear target. Even though it may take 100 years, or 50 years, that doesn’t matter. Make some kind of a clear idea or clear target; then try to achieve that step-by-step. I think as a first step, we have already started with the elimination of anti-personnel mines. And the elimination of biological weapons-these things are now starting. Also, we are already now reducing nuclear weapons. Eventually, there should be the total ban of nuclear weapons. I think this is now foreseeable; the idea of its possibility is now coming. I think these are great, hopeful signs. So, that is external disarmament.
There are two things: inner disarmament and external disarmament. Then, through that way, as I mentioned earlier, problems always remain, so we need some kind of humanistic way to solve problems: compromise. Sometimes I express that this century, which is my generation’s century, more or less has became like the century of bloodshed. Although within this century a lot of achievement has taken place, from certain aspects, this century remains a century of bloodshed or a century of violence. Now, we humanity, general speaking, I think through difficult, painful experience, the human being is becoming more mature, so now we are talking about peace, about non-violence. This is now becoming a political force or a political idea. I think this is a very good sign.
Therefore, next century should be a century of dialogue. We, the present generation, have to make a clear picture, we have to make some kind of preparation, for a happier, friendly, peaceful next century. So that when my generation is ready to say good-bye, we can hand over to the next fresh, broad-minded generation a more hopeful world; then they look after themselves. This is my feeling. And then, judging from various developments, it seems that in spite of some unhappy or painful conflicts here and there, generally speaking, I think things are getting better and better due to more awareness. And also, I think human thinking is becoming more open.
Therefore, as a conclusion, it is very, very important to remain with hope and determination. If we lose hope and remain with pessimism, that is the greatest failure. So, in spite of difficulties, ah! remain with optimism: Ah! these things change, can be overcome. That kind of determination and hope, that is the key factor for a brighter future. So that much I wanted to share with you. If you agree, then try to think more and investigate, and eventually implement. If you feel these are too idealistic, not practical, then forget! No problem.
HH The Dalai Lama