Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

His Holiness Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso … The wisest man in the world?

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www.faithinhumanrights.org

The only book I have read from Dalai Lama so far was “The Universe In A Single Atom”. To be honest, I didn’t finish reading the book because I thought the book is kinda boring. It is basically about Dalai Lama meeting up with prominent scientists, learning science from them and then apply scientific lessons to Buddhism. Not really interesting I would say. Perhaps it is too ‘laymen’. Or perhaps the writing style/translation .. I don’t know.

Three hours ago, I came across his script during the 1989 Nobel Peace Award from a book. After spending 15-20 minutes reading it, I was totally impressed by his thoughts and wisdom… especially his metaphors, they are just beautiful … and contagious. I was really inspired by the way how he perceive the world.

As with most insightful Buddhism philosophy, it doesn’t talk much about religion dogma but only philosophy of being a human. And that’s what I enjoy reading … and practicing. So, i typed this out word by word because I think his speech is really worth reading – something which really concern humanity.

His speech may seem not coherent and all over the places, but if you understand his words, the insight he gave is actually really, really deep. Every single sentence of words he said bring meaning, though it doesn’t seem important if glanced quickly. Typically just like Zen Buddhism’s koans…

[……] = means certain passage are skipped

The Nobel Evening Address, Oslo, Norway.

Dalai Lama,The Nobel Peace Prize 1989.

Brothers and sisters,

It is a great honour to come to this place and to share some of my thoughts with you. Although I have written a speech, it has already been circulated. You know, some of my friends told me it is better to speak in Tibetan and have it translated into English. Some say it is better to read my English statement, and some say it is better to speak directly with my broken English. I don’t know. Yesterday I tried my best to be formal but today, I feel more free, so I will speak informally.

[……]

What is the purpose of life for a human being? I believe that happiness is the purpose of life. Whether or not there is a purpose to the existence of universe or galaxies, I don’t know. In any case, the fact is that we are here on this planet with other human beings. Then, since every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering, it is clear that this desire does not come from training or some ideology. It is something natural. Therefore, I consider the attainment of happiness, peace, and joy, is the purpose of life. Therefore, it is very important to investigate what are happiness and satisfactions and what are their causes.

[……]

What is compassion? The basic meaning of compassion is not just a feeling of closeness, or just a feeling of pity. Rather, I think that with genuine compassion we not only feel the pain and suffering of others but we also have a determination to overcome suffering. One aspect of compassion is some kind of determination and responsibility. Therefore, compassion brings us tranquility and also inner strength. Inner strength is the ultimate source of success. 

When we face problem. a lot depends on the personal attitude towards that problem or tragedy. In some cases, when once faces the difficulty, one loses one’s hope and becomes discouraged and the ends up depressed. On the other hand, if one has a certain mental attitude, then tragedy and suffering bring one more energy, more determination.

Usually, I tell our generation we are born during the darkest period in our long history. There is a big challenge. it is very unfortunate. But if there is a challenge then there is an opportunity to face it, an opportunity to demonstrate our will and our determination. So from that viewpoint I think that our generation is fortunate. These things depend on inner qualities, inner strength. Compassion is gentle, very peaceful, and soft in nature, not harsh. You cannot destroy it easily as it is very powerful. Therefore, compassion is very important and useful.

Then again, if we look at human being, love and compassion are the foundation of human existence. According to some scientists, the fetus has feeling in the mother’s womb and is affected by the mother’s mental state. Then the few weeks after birth are crucial for the enlarging of the brain of the child. During that period, the mother’s physical touch is the greatest factor for the healthy development of the brain. This shows that the physical needs some affection to develop properly.

When we are born, our first action is sucking milk from mother. Of course, the child may not know about compassion and love, but the natural feeling is one of the closeness toward the object that gives milk. If the mother is angry or has ill feelings, the milk may not come fully. This shows that from our first day as human beings the effect of compassion is crucial.

If unpleasant things happen in our daily life, we immediately pay attention to them but do not notice other pleasant things. We experience these as normal or usual. This shows that compassion and affection are part of human nature.

[……]

Compassion and love are not man-made. Ideology is man-made but these things are produced by nature. It is important to recognize natural qualities, especially when we face a problem and fail to find a solution. For example, I feel that the Chinese leaders face a problem which is in part due to their own ideology, their own system. But when they try to solve that problem through their own ideology then they fail to tackle that problem. In religious business, sometimes even due to religion, we create problem. If we try to solve that problem using religious method, it is quite certain that we will not succeed. So I feel that when we face those kind of problems, it is important to return to our basic human quality. Then I think we will find that solution come easier. Therefore, I usually say that the best way to solve human problems is with human understanding.

[……]

Next, let us talk about the human being as social animal. Even if we do not like other people, we have to live together. Natural law is such that even bees and other animals have to live together in cooperation. I am attracted to bees because I like honey – it is really delicious! Their product is something that we cannot produce, very beautiful isn’t it? I exploit them too much, I think. Even these insects have certain responsibilities, they work together very nicely. They have no constitutions, no law, no police, nothing. But they work together effectively. This is because of nature. Similarly, each part of a flower is not arranged by human but by nature.The force of nature is something remarkable. We human beings, we have constitutions, we have law, we have police, we have religion, we have many things. But in actual practice, I think we are behind those small insects.

Sometimes civilization brings good progress, but we become too involved with this progress and neglect or forget about our basic nature. Every development in human society should take place on the basis of the foundation of the human nature. If we lost that basic foundation, there is no point in such development taking place.

The modern economy has no national boundaries. When we talk about ecology, the environment, when we are concerned about the ozone layer, one individual, one society, one country cannot solve these problems. We must work together. Humanity needs more genuine cooperation. The foundation for the development of good relations with another is altruism, compassion, and forgiveness. For small arguments to remain limited, in the human circle the best method is forgiveness. Altruism and forgiveness are the basis for bringing humanity together. Then no conflict, no matter how serious, will go beyond the bounds of what is truly human.

[……]

Now, on the question of violence and non-violence. There are many different levels of violence and non-violence. On the basis of external action, it is difficult to distinguish whether an action is violent or non-violent. Basically, it depends on the motivation behind the action. If the motivation is negative, even though the external appearance may be smooth and gentle, in a deeper sense the action is very violent. On the contrary, harsh actions and words done with a sincere, positive motivation are essentially non-violent. In other words, violence is a destructive power. Non-violence is constructive.

When the day become longer and there is more sunshine, the grass becomes fresh and consequently, we feel very happy. On the other hand, in autumn, one leaf falls down and another leaf falls down. These beautiful plants become as if dead and we do not feel happy. Why? I think it is because deep down our human nature like construction  and does not like destruction. Naturally, every action which is destructive is against human nature. Constructiveness is the human way. Therefore, I think that in terms of basic human feeling, violence is not good. Non-violence is the only way.

Practically speaking, through violence we may achieve something, but at the expense of someone’s else welfare. That way although we may solve one problem, we simultaneously seed a new problem. The best way to solve problems is through human and understanding, mutual respect. On one side make some concessions, on the other side take serious consideration about the problem. There may not be complete satisfaction, but something happens. Non violence is very safe.

Again, if there are sound reasons or bases for the points you demand, then there is no need to use violence. On the other hand, when there is no sound reason that concessions should be made to you but mainly your own desire, then reason cannot work and you have to rely on force. Thus, using force is not a sign of strength but rather a sign of weakness. Even in daily human contact, if we talk seriously, using reasons, there is no need to feel anger. We can argue the points. When we fail to prove with reason, then anger comes. When reason ends, then anger begins. Therefore, anger is a sign of weakness.

[……]

Buddhism does not accept a theory of God, or a creator. According to Buddhism, one’s own actions are the creator, ultimately.  Some people say that from a certain angle, Buddhism is not religion but rather a science of mind. Religion has too much involvement in faith. Buddhism can be a bridge between these two sides. Therefore, with this conviction I try to have closer ties with scientists, mainly in the fields of cosmology, psychology, neurobiology, physics. In these fields there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together.

[……]

We are passing through a most difficult period. I am very encouraged by your warm expression and by the Nobel Peace Prize. I thank you from the depth of my heart.

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Written by elan85

March 6, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Posted in Philosophy

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