Last July, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, I had the honor of singing Happy Birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama…
…in a basketball coliseum…
…with thousands of other people.
Singing Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama was a highlight of my life.
I have enjoyed the Dalai Lama’s thoughts and teachings for a few years, always drawing inspiration from him. But hearing him in person was even more profoundly uplifting. There were many moments of teary-eyed awe as I was in the presence of this wise man. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You couldn’t help but walk away changed.
Here are a few of nuggets of wisdom that he shared at that talk: (I include a link to the video at the end. Throughout the article, I note the time stamps on the video if you want to watch yourself.)
1. We Are All the Same
His Holiness started by conveying the important message that we are all the same, no matter title.
“Firstly, I am talking on the level [of] I’m just one human being. One out of 7 billion human beings, no differences…We are emotionally, mentally, physically, we are same. We all have the same right to achieve happy life.” [Video: 20:50]
He says that when he gives talks or meets someone, he considers himself just another human being. If he puts too much emphasis on “I am the Dalai Lama, then it creates a distance between him and the audience, which leads to more anxiety. If we use title (ego) when communicating with others, we create distance, a barrier, and fear. [Video 1:02:00]
2. Majority of Our Problems are Man-made
The problem, His Holiness continues, is that our brains get in the way.
Our unique brains are the source of many good things, such as infinite love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance. But they also cause more destructive emotions such as anger, hatred, and fear. Our brains are more complicated than other animals’.
A lot of problems we are facing are of our own creation. [Video 21:57]
3. We All Need to Pay More Attention to Our Inner Values
Material things cannot provide inner peace. In an affluent society, you can have lots of great services, but individuals are not necessarily happy. They have too much stress, worry, and – deep inside – fear and distrust.
Even though many people are highly educated, we still lack a deeper understanding about the value of compassion and love. His Holiness says that modern education is lacking in the education of warmheartedness; that is, in the teaching of inner values such as compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance.
His Holiness says that many consider teaching those values as part of a religious practice, but since many of the world’s population have no interest in religion, they are neglected in being taught these important inner values. (By his count, there are over 1 billion non-believers, who are also human, who also have the right to achieve a happy life.) [Video: 27:28]
My thoughts: I agree with his thoughts that modern education could and should incorporate more teaching of inner values. (My son’s elementary school does a good job with this.) I also believe that we can’t rely solely on religious practice or school systems to do this teaching. The biggest responsibility to teach inner values lies with parents. This is one of the main things I am learning and trying to teach my children. However, I understand that not every parent has the resources or opportunities I do.
4. Basis of All Religions is Love
All religious traditions are a source of love. And with that, they carry the messages of tolerance, forgiveness, and self-discipline. Division, hatred, anger, and unthinkable killing are not from religion, they are man-made problems. [Video:25:15]
All religions, though they may have differing philosophies, have the same goal: the promotion of love. These different methods are necessary because we are in different locations around the world, with different cultural heritage, and different ways of life. We have to accept these differences because they have the same goal. Then there is no problem. [Video: 47:00]
5. It’s Important to Give Kids Lots of Affection from Birth/Young Age
After birth, the mother’s physical touch of the child is a very important factor for proper development of their brain. People who receive the maximum affection from birth or a young age remain more compassionate people, and deep down feel more secure. Those who do not receive enough affection at a young age, may deep down feel more insecure and have trouble trusting others.
Therefore, the mother, and females, are very, very important. [Video: 58:32]
6. If Women Took More Responsibility in Leadership, the World Would be More Peaceful
His Holiness says that women should take more active role regarding promoting of compassionate society, compassionate humanity. Women are biologically wired to be more sensitive to the pain of others and to show compassion. [Video: 55:30]
From that, he says that if women took more responsibility in leadership, perhaps the world would be more peaceful. [Huge applause after that.] [Video 59:30]
7. Thinking About and Serving Others is the Way to Find Health and Happiness
We are social animals. No matter how powerful an individual is, one individual cannot survive without the rest of the community. And as a social animal, we need emotion to bring us together: love, affection, sense of community. We are a social animal, but deep inside, only have a self-centered attitude; just a “me, me, me, me”. That is actually against the basic nature of a social animal.
We need a sense of concern for others’ well being, because others are the basis of our future. So take more care of others’ well being, then you will have more friends, and friendships based on trust will lead to a life of prosperity.
Too much self-centered attitude will not bring friendship. Constant fear, constant anger develop and actually eat our immune system. More concern for others’ well being will bring inner strength. Inner strength brings a calm mind. Calm mind is a very important factor for a healthy body.
For physical well being, thinking about love is certainly useful, but even more useful, not only thinking love but actually implementing love, serving other people, helping other people, love translated into action, that is more effective for health.
This does not come from religious teachings, but from scientific findings. [Video: 29:54]
8. Ultimate Enemy is Our Own Destructive Emotion
Constant anger, hatred is bad for our health. A compassionate mind releases our inner fear. When you have more compassionate feelings, you can look at people and see friends, human brothers/sisters. If you have too much of a self-centered attitude, fear, and distrust, it creates distance between people. [Video: 1:01:40]
Ultimate enemy is our own destructive emotion. If you keep loving kindness towards anybody, including your enemy, then today’s enemy, eventually, will change. Use common sense, then extend loving kindness towards entire humanity. Not oriented at their attitude, but to them as a human being. [Video: 1:04:15]
9. You Can Create a Ripple of Peace to Change the World
“We have to make every effort to promote a sense of oneness of humanity.” Develop a sense of responsibility, because we are part of humanity. If humanity is happy, I am happy. If humanity has a lot of problems, then fear and anxiety remain in our individual lives. We have to think of humanity.
“Don’t just rely on what I said, analyze, get more conviction, then implement it. Share with your friends.” And they will share with their friends.
Don’t think that because you are only one person, you can’t affect change on a global level. Changes at the global level (happier world) must start from each individual – not the government or United Nations. [Video: 36:34]
10. Every Day is “Happy Birthday”
After we sang Happy Birthday to him, he said the following:
Every day is Happy Birthday. Each day you should have a happy day. In order to have a happy day, inner value is a key factor – not the cake.
You can have lot of anxiety, lot of worry, lot of stress, but a big birthday cake will not bring inner peace. Everyone has the potential for real inner peace: whether educated or uneducated, rich or poor, this color, that color, believer or non-believer, no differences. We all have the same potential. Please, realize that. Keep self confidence. More enthusiasm, optimism is very important for a happy life. [Video: 1:13]
By sharing some of His Holiness’ words with you, I want to start a ripple of peace.