Statement for the Jewish Post

By The Dalai Lama

Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings. Like us, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to our own. When we recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, we automatically feel tolerance, empathy and affection for them.

From my Buddhist viewpoint all things originate in the mind. Actions and events depend heavily on our motivation. If we develop a good heart, then whatever work we do, since the motivation is so very important, the result will be more beneficial. But Buddhists acknowledge that, while everyone is capable of it, a good motivation does not arise spontaneously. It must be cultivated and worked at. To generate a warm heart, affection and respect for others, we are encouraged to focus on the fundamental human quality of kindness. Everyone appreciates and responds to it and without it most of us would not survive. Kindness is the universal panacea that salves the corrosive effects of discrimination and prejudice. And although it is difficult to bring about the inner change that gives rise to it, it is absolutely worthwhile to try.

Of course, human beings naturally possess different interests and dispositions. So, it is not surprising that we have many different systems of belief and different ways of thinking and behaving. But this variety is a way for everyone to be happy. If we have a great variety of food, we will be able to satisfy everyone's different tastes and needs. When we only have bread, the people who eat rice are left out. And the reason those people eat rice is that rice is what grows best where they live.

The more we understand of one another's ways, the more we can learn from each other. And the more easily we can develop respect and tolerance in our own lives and in our behaviour towards each other. This will certainly help to increase peace and friendship throughout the world.

Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behaviour, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same. I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness.

In Tibet we say that many illnesses can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness and our need for them lies at the very core of our being. Unfortunately, love and compassion have been omitted from too many spheres of social interaction for too long. Usually confined to family and home, their practice in public life is considered impractical, even naive. This is tragic. In my view, the practice of compassion is not just a symptom of unrealistic idealism but is the most effective way to pursue the best interests of others as well as our own.

If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally feel self-worth and confidence and there is no need to be fearful of others. The key to a happier world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious nor do we need to believe in an ideology. What is necessary, however, is for each of us to develop our natural good human qualities.

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