“To understand the Dalai Lama … especially if (as in my case) you come from some other tradition, perhaps it’s most useful to see him as a doctor of the soul.”
- Pico Iyer, “The Open Road”
We’ve seen him on TV, Magazines, movies, books, and social media. His image triggers a moment of personal calm and appreciation for life, at least for me.
Both history and popular culture depicts him as a man of peace, balance, and compassion.
But who really is, the Dalai Lama? What does he wants us to know?
Anyone wanting to dive deeper to his actual teachings will have plenty of stuff to go through.
It can actually be overwhelming, especially to someone who have novice knowledge on the subject.
So this, right here, is an attempt to share a simpler worldview of his teachings. True, actionable pieces of wisdom, based on how I understand the Great Master.
As he once said, “Simplicity is extremely important for happiness”.
“Wise persons think of others, helping them as much as they can, and the result is happiness. Love and compassion are beneficial both for you and others. Through your kindness to others, your mind and heart will open to peace."
The world can be a dangerous place to live in. In some parts of the planet, people of all ages go through some form of abuse and hardship. Some took religion as their battle cry, rather than a unifying belief. This lead to oppression, which leads to conflict and injustice, which ultimately results to war.
If we only find it in our hearts to truly care about the next person, the world will be a much, much better place. And it all starts within ourselves.
"If the rest of the people really think that I'm a politician, especially a bad politician, then I feel sad. Some say I'm a good person, some say bad person---it doesn't matter. As long as my own motivation for thinking is to be honest and sincere, I don't care what other people say."
How many times have we felt paralyzed, unable to act based on our own true selves, feelings, and beliefs, simply because we’re too afraid of what others might say? The Dalai Lama said that if you receive praise, don't forget that you also have critics. If you hear negativity about you, remember that you have people who support you. The message of his advice is clear: Focus on what you can do for yourself and others, it's a whole lot more important than other people's opinion about you.
"Feelings of anger, bitterness, and hate are negative. If I kept those inside me, they would spoil my body and my health. They are of no use."
A lot of what happens around us are things we can’t truly control. So what does the Dalai Lama advise that we do? Focus on what we can control: our mind. Don’t let negative emotions and thoughts linger too long. Accept them and acknowledge their presence. Just don’t let them control your life. Doing so will be detrimental to both your physical and emotional health. The secret is to maintain a calm demeanor, accepting things as they are, and focusing our energies on things that will bring joy to us and others.
“We are social animals”, said the great master. “And the basis of genuine friendship is trust. Trust depends on openness.”
As cliche as it sounds, true friends are a real treasure. They accept and love us for who we are, no compromises. And isn’t that what the Dalai Lama wants us to experience more of? Friendships develop compassion, and compassion among people will lead to feelings of true personal satisfaction that no material wealth can bring.
“Anger affects your judgement. In order to to use human intelligence properly, our mind should be calm. Anger destroys your inner peace and destroys your ability to investigate the reality.”
How many times have we gotten ourselves into awful situations simply because we were too angry during that regrettable moment? Aside from hurt feelings, anger has caused many a situation that did not need to happen in the first place. Too often, ego gets in the way. In our anger, we lose all objectivity and compassion. We hurt both the people we love and ourselves.
To deal with anger, the Dalai Lama suggested, “Every person, no matter how negative she seems to be, also has positive attributes. If you try to look at that side of her, the anger will immediately be reduced.”
“Challenges are an opportunity to carry your will. If challenges come, then your potential (talents, gifts) becomes more alert (and you grow in the process)”
As Carl Jung once said, “Man needs difficulties. They are necessary for health”. Pushing through our comfort zone is painful. But it is essential. Without challenges, we will never know what we’re truly capable of. Most successful businesses we know today rose to power simply because they were willing to face newer and tougher challenges. Without it we will remain stuck. And when we’re stuck our options for helping others are limited. We should be always willing to grow and improve. For ourselves and for other people.
"Man sacrifices his health to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die..and then dies having never really lived"
We know this story all too well. We give every ounce ourselves to work, often out of necessity. But the Dalai Lama stresses that while money is important, it should not be the center of your life. An endless chase for money, to quote the master, “Brings a lot of worry, a lot of anxiety, a lot of suspicion, a lot of jealousy. More money fails to bring inner peace.”
"When we feel certain sort of irritation, during that moment, if that person concentrate fully on the breathing, nothing else, your mental state will be different, you'll be calm. It's important for day-to-day's well being."
In the book, “My Morning Routine”, a collection of interviews with some of the most successful people and personalities, it was found out that out of the 300 participants, more than half (54%) meditate. It just goes to show how important and a contributing factor it is to the success of these individuals. Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios president, Ed Catmull, for example, has been doing Vipassana meditation for years---and he hasn’t missed a day for a long time according to him.
As the master himself said, “Meditation may be thought of as a technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones.” A beautiful piece of wisdom that stresses the importance of being mindful and starting each day with vibrance, purpose, and passion.
Amiel is a staff writer at Kaiya, who enjoys the simple things that life has to offer. When not reading, he's usually taking long walks, or spending time with his family.
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