His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Friday, August 11, 2000
Address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
On the National Mall, Washington, D.C., July 2, 2000
DALAI LAMA: Hello. Good morning. Thank you. Quite hot, isn't it? Dear brothers and sisters, I am extremely happy to be here with you. I think it's a special occasion. There's some kind of city festival for Tibetan culture, culture thing. So, I feel quite proud, and I want to express to all the concerned people, they really worked hard. So, thank you very much.
And then also the large gathering that came here, I much appreciate. But at the same time, those individuals who come here, of course, if you come just with a curiosity, that is OK. No problem. I think it is better. If you are someone who comes here with some expectation, then you will get disappointed. And often I'm telling you, when I talk to audience, some people come here with some kind of belief that "The Dalai Lama have healing power." And, you see, somehow they're hoping to cure some of their own problems. That is a disaster. I have no sort of miracle power, nothing.
So, sometimes people call me a "living Buddha." That actually, that very term. "Living Buddha" is, I think, a mistake. In Tibetan words, lama or guru, there is no such meaning as a living Buddha. So that very term is mistake. Some people say "the god king"; that is, of course, obviously meaningless. Here I want to communicate with you as another human brother, as a human being. See, we are the same. Basically, emotionally, mentally, or physically, we are the same human being.
So, according to my own experience, yes, you may find some usefulness to you, because we are the same, it's the same nature. I also have a lot of problems--emotional problems and physical problems also. You obviously have these same experiences. Then I think we--not only a human being, but all sentient beings, that means those living beings who have the experience of pains and suffering, and happiness and pleasure, all sentient beings, you see, have the same desire: To overcome something and to achieve happy life. And as far as having a right to existence is concerned, those, you see,-even the trees, those other living things like trees, flowers--I think today grass here, I think messed up a little bit--but basically living things have the right to exist and develop.
So, basically all sentient beings have the same right to a happy life. We human beings from birth, everyone has the right to be happy person, and [have a] successful life.
As a matter of fact, I feel the very foundation of our existence is our hope. Where there is a hope, yes, we survive. Once we've lost our hope, then where is survival? Some times, you see, become difficult. So, therefore, the very purpose of our life, you can say is our happiness. It's our goal, our purpose of our life.
So now, I think the point which I want to share with you is: Happiness, pleasure, suffering, and pains mainly exist at a physical level, at the sensory level. That is common, even with animals. Animals also enjoy, when they have enough food and comfortable shelter. But then we human beings, I think what is different than animal is mainly human intelligence. I think that because of human intelligence, human beings have more ability. Our physical, compared with some other species of mammals is small. Compared with some, our physical strength is weaker. But because of the intelligence, human being become more superior on this planet. So, because of the human intelligence, you see, that happened.
So, similarly because of human intelligence, we human being have greater potential in both construction and destruction. So, because of that, you see, sometimes I say jokingly, telling audience that human beings, because of human intelligence, we are, I think the most trouble maker among the thousands, thousands of different species of mammals.
So, if we really want peaceful world, then I think human species should finish, should disappear. Then I think world may become safer. Because of this intelligence--our greed, our desire--also beyond limitations. And with that ability to exploit, through these ways, you see, the human being can be very negative, very destructive.
So, finally, human beings themselves suffer. So, therefore, because of the intelligence, we have the potential of both the positive and the negative.
Then another thing. Because of the intelligence, we human being, certain sort of pains and pleasure, only mainly in the level of mind, or intelligence, only.
[Confers with translator]
Translator: Level of mind.
Translator: Level of mind.
DL: Of course, my English very bad. And especially, see, when a person becoming older, getting older, my English also getting older. So, excuse me. Sometimes, occasionally I have to ask my teacher here, my English teacher or translator.
So, it is quite obvious, because of our thinking power and lot of imaginations. They intended a long-term future. So that sometimes, you see, thinking bring us more anxiety, more mental unrest. And also, you see, greed, desire--beyond limits, or beyond necessary. Again, if our desire or the ambition go beyond limitation, then result: more disappointment. So, therefore, these are, I think, the unique sort of problem of human being. Animal have not that kind of problem.
So, therefore, one way, human intelligence is very precious, really great thing. But at the same time, it also can be very destructive and also can be source of problem, source of suffering. So then, obviously pains and unsatisfaction, all sort of problems at that level cannot be overcome by physical comfort. We can see, we can witness the rich people--the millionaire or billionaire--all faculties very much there--very successful sort of businessman. At the same time, that person can be very unhappy person. We can see that. So if physical facility, material facility can fulfill all our desires, then such rich people should not have any sort of mental problem or suffering. But that's not the case. Other hand, someone who materially is really not at that level can be very happy person. So, the experience on the mental level is more superior, more effective, than the physical level.
So, now, my main point is, we are putting every effort, and paing attention, for material development. We should not, I think we must not, you see, neglect our inner values. If we become like slave of money, we can't be happy person. And if we expect all our problems can be solved through external means, that's a mistake. That's unfortunate. It is impossible.
So, therefore, while we are enjoying or making effort to further develop the material facilities through science and technology, it is very essential, very useful to think occasionally inward.
Now, here was a point: Usually I call human values. The human species is a social animal. So, because of that nature, because of social animal, this is by birth, by nature. You see, we have also the sense of community. Because our individual survival very much depends on the community. So therefore, I think we can see that according to medical science, even the child before birth, the child already has some kind of a capacity to realize mother's voice. So, that means by nature, the child entirely depends on that person. So some kind of feeling--closeness feeling--towards that person is before birth, already developed.
So, afterwards, after birth, the caring by mother or some other people, under that circumstances, the child survives and grows. More affections, more care. The physical development and mental development also healthier obviously in those children. Especially unwanted children: They are very unfortunate because they grow in insecurity. No one can realize how hard. That's very, very harmful for development of the physical, as well as the mind.
So, therefore, the sense of taking care and sharing with one another--these are basic human qualities. Of course, aggressiveness also is a part of human nature. But I feel that come later, I think. That is secondary. Because of that, it come later. But the affection, one another, that is the foundation of our survival. So, that come right from the beginning. Aggressiveness, it seems, you see, the human intelligence develop, then the aggressiveness also increase. This is my feeling.
So, basically I feel human nature, basically more positive, more affectionate. Some of my friends argue that human nature is aggressive. So, some people even have the, I think, very pessimist sort of attitude, that human nature is bad. I think that's a mistake. If human nature is really bad, then there's no use to talk about the future,I don't think. So therefore, as I mentioned earlier, in this physical, they very much need other's affectionate attitude. So, again, you see, according to medical science, after birth, in the next few weeks, the physical touch of the mother or someone who takes care, is a very, very crucial factor for development of the brain. So, the physical development very much need human affection.
So, then, obviously, those people who have more negative emotions, such as hate, fear, jealousy--these people won't be a happy person. And their life span also can be shorter. Again, medical scientists say--according to their research--that those individuals who often use the word "I, my, mine, me," these people have greater risk for heart attack. So, this shows that too much self-centered, narrow mindedness really bring disaster. Bring unhappy life. It's, I think, quite logical. When we think of just one's self, when we focus all our mind in a very limited area. So, within that really limited area, even small problems appears very big.
So, therefore, because of that kind of appearances, you feel unbearable worry, or uncomfortable. So, when our mind thinks about whole, think about others, then automatically our mind is widened. The result: One's own problem, then, is in that vast area, one's own problem then cannot be as significant, cannot be great big thing. So, the same problem, because of mental attitude, makes differences. So, therefore, to think of just one's self, and these negative emotions--hatred, fear, jealousy--these are very bad for our life, even for health.
So, the basis of hatred is being narrow minded, self-centered. These are the foundation, basic causes of hatred. Because if you accept, if you acknowledge or realize that other people also have the right to have happy life, then you have respect for other. Then, you see, this kind of ill feeling would not arise. So, therefore, these negative emotions, destructive emotions, these are very bad for our health, as well as for our life. So, then, how to transform our mental attitude? As I mentioned earlier, it's right from the beginning. We have both potential: positive, negative. So, under those circumstances--the development of positive emotions and some kind of restraint of the negative emotion--that is the way of transforming our mind, training the mind.
So, you see, that [transformation] is not through meditation--meditation here means to just close our eyes, then you sit without moving--or some prayer, even some, I think, physical exercise may not much effective to transform our mind. I'm not saying, in order to transform our mind, we should follow religious faith. I'm not saying that. Just through awareness, analyze. And also, you see, we can examine our daily experiences. One day, even if the previous day you have had some kind of a quarrel with other with strong feelings of anger, hatred, or jealousy like that. But even next day, next day morning, your mood is not so smooth. So that even if the anger is no longer there, the hatred no longer there. But still, some traces of negative emotion is there.
So, go like that day by day. If more negative emotions constantly arise, your whole daily life become uncomfortable or cause a bad mood. So therefore, in order to achieve peace of mind, we must deal with these negative emotions. So, that's the process of changing of our attitude, of our transforming our mind.
Look, generally through education systems, through education, our ignorance, our ignorant mind transformed, made more aware. So, similarly, there also is a transformation of our mind through awareness. So, similarly, of course there is the external danger. Like some materials, some materials, something poisonous. Through awareness, we can avoid. We can overcome the danger of that as they are, the danger of that poison.
So, similarly, through awareness we can possibly, we can avoid the... [Tibetan conversation.] Translator: So, as you develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of your emotions and your thought processes, then gradually you will be able to learn a way of discipline where you can distance yourself further and further away from these destructive emotional tendencies.
DL: So, that is, I believe, the transformation through use of basic good qualities of human nature. Through that way, we can transform. So, in modern time, I feel it is, I think, very, very important to promote basic human values. Otherwise, in the future, only material development will be the goal, and [we will] neglect our inner values. Then humanity, I think, will face more problems.
So, therefore, at the individual level, or family level, or community level, or even at a global level, the basic human values are very, very essential. So, let us try to have better awareness about inner values. Then accordingly, try to promote, try to strengthen these inner values. This is one thing I want to share with you. All have the same sort of, I think, potential and ability to promote.
First, one individual: Try to be more happy person through awareness. Through that way, we can share our experience with family member, then your community. So, that's the way of transformation of humanity.
Then another thing that I want to share with you. When we talk about the future, there's no guarantee about the future. Anyway, future is uncertain. But at the same time, future is vast. Very open, very open. So, it is quite clear, if we human being, we humanity, to properly use our human intelligence, and properly use our energy, our ability, certainly we can overcome many problems, because many problems essentially man-made problems. So, therefore, if we utilize wisely our natural ability, then certainly we can, if not completely eliminate, but certainly we can reduce man-made problems.
Now, ecology. In the past, I think the obligation of human beings small. I think the lifestyle also simple. Then the mother earth, she tolerate, the kind mother earth, she just allow the naughty children behavior. But now, as the population increasing, year by year increasing quite rapidly. And also the living standards of those materially advanced nations. Your living standard, you have too much wealth, consuming is too much. Then other people also, you see, copy American lifestyle. In Europe, in Asia, like China, it's everywhere--in spite of different ideological system, you see--Russia copying American lifestyle. So, of course, they also have the right to have a higher living standard. So, the exploitation, or use of natural resources, now much increasing.
Then also desire. Greed. Too much greed. So, that way... [Tibetan conversation].
Translator: One of the fundamentally beliefs in the Western society is the belief in continual, perpetual growth in economy.
DL: That cannot grow indefinitely. Sooner or later, you will find limitation. I told some of my Japanese friends, it is better to have a more realistic attitude as the growth of the material is limited. So, better to have that kind of awareness. So that when you face the problem, now no longer any possibility to increase, then you will not suffer mentally at least.
So, I think when we think six billion human being, when I think your lifestyle and economics of material, I think sooner or later you have to find some new way, more practical. Otherwise, eventually you may find disaster. So, therefore the population increase and living standard, increasing. And therefore, our ecology really now, has become more sensitive, serious issue, serious issue.
Translator: The theme that he is repeating up to me...
DL: You know sometimes when we have a teaching, the lama says one word, then audiences repeat after that. So, here I am repeating his words.
So, now is mother earth really showing, I think, the warning. So, this one, I think, big challenge; we have to see to that. Then, about the population itself, I think we should think very carefully. Especially, of course, those developed countries, usually you have, I think, quite good family planning. So, that's one thing.
Then just as you get rich and poor, global level, and also the national, international. One is my American friend, very recently, he told me, in Washington, this is the richest nation's capital. Most powerful. At the same time, in this very capital, there are some families, some section of the family of society, very, very poor conditions. This is not only just morally wrong, but practically also. It's also problem. So, if in the economy, there are big differences then it is very difficult, you see. And those poor people, people from poor community, seeing these wealthy peoples wasting many things. And under those circumstances, it is very difficult to practice compassion. At least I find it very difficult to say to these people, "Please practice compassion." Very difficult.
So, result: big frustrations, more frustrations. Under desperate situations: frustrations and anger, and then violence. So, then, eventually violence becomes something like the daily pattern of life. Then some of these children, without any reason just use violence. So, some unfortunate thing even happens. We can't blame these individual people. Whole society, I think, not very healthy.
So, in order to address these problems, I think we have to think long term: What's the answer? Long-term plan. So, mainly the society needs to think about their lifestyle, the whole atmosphere in the society, I think very important. This is a huge gap--rich and poor. This is really source of problem. But then, I don't know how to address, how to face, how to solve this problem.
One thing I feel quite strongly. The people from the weakest sections must make effort with self confidence. Few occasions when I was in the huge continent Africa, the few occasions I've been there, some of my friends there, I'm sharing with them: "Instead of just blaming on the other, they, through hard work, with self confidence and initiative, must take some vigorous efforts by themselves. Then the wealthier side, of course, must provide them, help them, facility of education, training. So that's one is my suggestion. Then of course, those wealthier people--very wealthy billionaire--with lot of dollars but still same size of stomach, isn't it? If you want to consume some very precious things, still the same size of stomach. If you want to put some precious jewels in rings, still only ten fingers. Each finger, if you put two or three rings, then looks very strange. People may call, oh, something wrong in that person. Isn't it? So, therefore, I think... [Tibetan conversation]
Translator: So, your personal wealth may be tremendously great in size. But when it comes to actually using it by yourself, the individual, there are certain limits.
DL: Then also, those rich people, sometimes I have found in the Western society, you see, even though they are not very happy, but they show they're a happy person. And even though their knowledge is limited, they show almost like Buddha, enlightened one. That is hypocrisy. So, anyway, my point is this is: Wealthier people mentally not necessarily happy. And then also, see, the wealthy people, wealthier family, they're also very concerned about image of their family, image of their individual. Your country very involved in image, good image, the publicity. So, if you are really concerned about good image, then help other people, help the poor people. Share your money with unfortunate people. Your image will be overnight improved. Then also, you will have genuine friends, your own fortune share with other people. They'll be really satisfied, possibly happy, so become better friend. I feel genuine friendship with poor people is something very precious. I think, generally speaking, friendship with poor people is really reliable. Otherwise, sometimes the friendship also become--what say? [Tibetan conversation]
Translator: As an instrument.
DL: An instrument. So therefore, the wealthier people should think about long term and more holistic way. Then you will realize, you will get some kind of spirit of willingness to share. For health, for education--especially for education--for poorer section of the people. And take care sincerely. You see, helping them, not to a kind of attitude, "Oh, I'm rich, so I'm helping you, I'm giving this." Not that way. We are same human being. Difference is, I am more fortunate, you are a little unfortunate. So, since we are human brothers and sisters, it is my obligation to share with you, with respect, as human brothers and sisters.
So, about the gap rich and poor: This is very serious. Then population I already mentioned, but here I feel very glad. You see, a lot of monks and nuns here. So, we are making big contributions regarding human population.
OK. So, then another thing I want to share with you is: In human society, some kind of problems always there. That's taken for granted, bound to happen. Because human intelligence means there will always be some kind of disagreement; some kind of different views always there, or contradictions.
So in the past, or in human history, unfortunately, when we find some disagreement, some conflict, then we use force. In human history, warfare and violence have become part of human history. Now human being, firstly, I think our lifestyle much changed. Economy much changed. Now I think the reality is a global economy, rather than just individual nation's economy. And then the environmental problems, due to these, and also populations, too much populations.
Because of these factors, world becoming smaller, just becoming one entity. Because if something happens there, repercussions reach here. Something happens here, repercussions released there. That's the nature of today's reality.
So, under those circumstances, I think the very basis of concept of war is a clear sort of demarcation: my interest and their interest. So, yes, destruction of your enemy is victory of yourself. But now, today's reality not that. My interest very much in with so-called enemy, because despite different ideology, different system, or something else still survival and prosperity very much linked with them. Therefore, you see, destruction of your neighbor is destruction of yourself.
And then another thing. Through warfare, we think we can completely eliminate all problems. In the past century, lot of warfare happened. First World War, Second World War. A lot of killings happened. Now today, there should not anymore be conflict. Because I think we utilized, I think the best part of human brain, the human sort of intelligence. And a lot of energy, a lot of money spent on war missions. But problems still there. So, that is, I think, the wrong method. Look at the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia, and also in Africa. Through killing, some kind of solution was tried through killing. It's foolish, impossible. I think just too much short-sighted. [Tibetan conversation]
Translator: Using force under such circumstances, and finding some temporary solutions, is nothing but gaining some kind of emotional satisfaction rather than really solving the problem.
DL: That is foolish. That's unwise, not human way. So, therefore, judging from that kind of situation, the concept of warfare, the concept of violence is out of date. It is quite clear. So, at the individual level, or family level, or national level, or global level, now we must find another effective human way to face the problem. That, I think, is dialogue. So, while we... [Tibetan conversation].
Translator: While we are searching for this alternative.
DL: This effective way, dialogue. And here, in the spirit of awareness. Anyway, we have to live together. My future depends on you. So, I have to take that reality, I have to acknowledge that. So, you see, if I harm you, I will suffer. That kind of awareness, on that basis, then willingness... [Tibetan conversation] Translator: A willingness to recognize the interest of the opposite.
DL: So, some kind of compromise. You see, keep in mind their interest. In the meantime, not sort of lose one's own interest. Some kind of 50-50. So, that's the realistic way. In the meantime then, we can promote concept of nonviolence, the concept of peace, world peace. So, once we find some kind of, I think, peaceful means, effective peaceful means to address these problem--at the national level or international level--and then, now, no use weapons. Perhaps I think some mischievous individual here or there, we may need a few weapons. Otherwise, no huge destructive weapons: no need. Then this famous what you call American defense ministry, Pentagon, yes. Then I think a lot of workers in the Pentagon, I think can retire. Many of them, I think, brilliant scientists who are working on the military establishment, I think it is pity. Brilliant mind utilized for how to kill human being. It's very sad.
So, therefore, I think the whole thing can be rearranged. A Germany professor, I think, I heard one time he expressed: Now, in the modern society, no need defense and foreign ministries. I think that's marvelous. Treat your neighbor as a part of your own country. No need for some kind of demarcation--we and they--and then defense and foreign ministries. So, this I think is marvelous. So, anyway, the idea or ultimate goal: complete demilitarized planet. That should be our goal.
So now, not much time. I hope you are not bored. I think some of my old friends, I think they familiar with all these talks. So, I think some of you, may be bored. So, anyway, lastly, in order to promote basic human values, all major religious tradition also have, I think, very important task, or important role. Iin order to make religious faith effective, first, ourselves. Whether we accept religion or not, that is up to individual. In reality, without religious faith, we can be a happy person. And without religion, can be a happy world. That's something I believe. But at the same time, if properly followed, the religions also have an important role. Therefore, once we accept religion, then we must follow it very sincerely, very genuinely. Through that way, the different religious traditions can promote, can achieve harmony.
Now, lastly, a few words in Tibetan towards the audience not here. I think maybe their spirit may be here, but physically they're not here, very far away. [Extended address in Tibetan]
So, that is my talk to people inside Tibet, my own sort of people inside Tibet. The meaning of the message is something secret; I do not want to share with you. [Laughter.]
So, finally, I really enjoy this occasion. So, please now, important, let us be nice human being, warm-hearted human being. So that we individually become happier person. That's our goal, that's our basic right. And through that way, we can make contribution to transforming, making better human society, better human beings.
Thank you very much.
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