The Power of Compassion

By The Dalai Lama –

1. His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk who lives his life with simplicity, humor and great warmth. Everywhere his message is the same – the importance of love, compassion and forgiveness.

2. “I speak from my own experience. I will not propose that my way is best. The decision is up to you.”

3. All sentient beings, particularly human beings, want happiness and do not want pain and suffering.

4. There is no absolute; everything is relative, so we must judge according to the circumstances.

5. When I say ‘spiritual’ I do not necessarily mean any kind of religious faith. When I use the word ‘spiritual’ I mean basic human good qualities such as human affection, a sense of involvement, honesty, discipline and human intelligence properly guided by good motivation. We have all these
things from birth.

6. All religious teachings and traditions teach us to be good human beings. As humans, we all have the same human potential.

7. Humans have the potential not only to create happy lives for themselves, but also to help other beings. We have a natural creative quality and it is very important to realize this.

8. With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. Self-confidence is very important, as is an awareness of one’s own potential. Human beings can transform themselves by increasing the good qualities and reducing the negative qualities.

9. The smile is a very important feature of the human face. It is illogical to expect smiles from others if one does not smile oneself. Many things depend on one’s own behaviors.

10. It is important to be mindful of the benefits from long-term and short-term happiness.

11. There is both positive and negative desire. Desire is the prime mover in achieving happiness now and for the future. The antidote to negative desire is contentment.

12. Bodily health, material wealth and companions and friends are three factors for happiness. Contentment is the key that will determine the outcome of your relations with all three of these factors.

13. Friendly competition can be a stimulating factor for growth and progress.

14. The outcome of our interactions depends upon the application of intelligence.

15. Our behavior in our daily lives is the key factor in determining whether all our faculties and relationships produce genuine, long-lasting satisfaction or not. Much depends on our own attitude; motivation is the key thing.

16. One must have the ability to concentrate, to focus on events, actions and goals.

17. In summary, good conduct is the way in which life becomes more meaningful, more constructive and more peaceful. For this, much depends on our own behavior and our own mental attitude.

18. The success of our lives and our futures depends on our individual motivation and determination or self-confidence.

19. I think that a person who has had more experience of hardships can stand more firmly in the face of problems than the person who has never experienced suffering. Some suffering can thus be a good lesson for life. My own tragic experiences have had some valuable aspects.

20. Buddhist religious practice greatly emphasizes the importance of the awareness of death and impermanence.

21. I think at the time of death a peaceful mind is essential no matter what you believe in, whether in Buddhism or some other religion. At the moment of death the individual should not seek to develop anger, hatred or so on. That is very important. I think even non-believers see that it is better to pass
away in a peaceful manner, it is much happier.

22. Anger and hatred are two of our closest friends. By using common sense, with the help of compassion and wisdom, I now have a more powerful argument with which to defeat anger. It is bad for our material facilities if our mind is dominated by anger.

23. * According to my experience, it is clear that if each individual makes an effort, then he or she can change.

24. People often describe Buddhism as a ‘science of the mind’.

25. Negative emotions are those which immediately create some kind of unhappiness or unease. On the basis of compassionate motivation, anger can in some cases be useful because it gives us extra energy and enables us to act swiftly.

26. The sources of our happiness: good health, material facilities and good companions.

27. Your mental state should always remain calm.

28. I sometimes think of myself as a half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.

29. You, who I think have had a better education and more experience than myself, have more potential to change within yourself.

30. Our mental attitude is very crucial. The ultimate source of happiness is in our mental attitude; the main cause of a happy life is within.

31. While money is very useful and necessary, it is not the ultimate source of happiness.

32. I consider hatred to be the ultimate enemy. By ‘enemy’ I mean the person or factor which directly or indirectly destroys our interest. Our interest is that which ultimately creates happiness.

33. The supreme source of my happiness is my calmness of mind. That is something an external enemy cannot destroy. The ultimate source of my mental happiness is my peace of mind. Nothing can destroy this except my own anger.

34. Anger, if you do not make an attempt to reduce it, will remain with you and even increase. Through training and discipline you can change (and learn how to deal effectively with anger). You should not become dissatisfied or frustrated because this is the cause of anger and hatred.

35. Dissatisfaction is the seed of anger.

36. By bringing about a change in our outlook towards things and events, all phenomena can become friends or sources of happiness, instead of becoming enemies or sources of frustration.

37. Without anger and without hatred, we can manage (ourselves) more effectively.

38. * One of the effective means by which one can overcome the forces of negative emotions like anger and hatred is by cultivating their counter-forces, such as the positive qualities of mind like love and compassion.

39. Compassion is the most wonderful and precious thing. Basic human nature is, I believe, compassionate and gentle.

40. It is my experience that those lessons which we learn from teachers who are not just good, but who also show affection for the students, go deep into our minds. Irrespective of whether you are a believer or non-believer, compassion for the students’ lives or futures, not only for examinations,
makes your work as a teacher much more effective.

41. We depend heavily on the affection of others.

42. The human body appreciates peace of mind.

43. Our potential for compassion is there. The only issue is whether or not we realize this and utilize it. By nature we are compassionate. Compassion is something very necessary and something which we can develop (to a higher degree).

44. The Buddhist interpretation is that genuine compassion is based on a clear acceptance or recognition that others, like ourselves, want happiness and have the right to overcome suffering. On that basis one develops some kind of concern about the welfare of others, irrespective of one’s attitude to
oneself. That is compassion.

45. With genuine compassion you view others as more important than yourself.

46. My interests are not independent of others. My happiness depends on others’ happiness.

47. The whole world has become much smaller, but the human consciousness is still lagging behind.

48. If an individual is compassionate, he or she will immediately make friends. Genuine human friendship is on the basis of human affection.

49. Wisdom is extremely important in increasing compassion indefinitely.

50. I think that in your daily lives and in all sorts of your professional work, you can use this compassionate motivation (to build effective relationships).

51. Human compassion is the key factor of all human business. Every human action that is without human feeling becomes dangerous.

52. If you have respect for or interest in religion, that is good. But even if you have no interest in religion, you should not forget the importance of these deeper human values. I see compassion, love and forgiveness, as a common ground for all different religions.

53. The greater the force of your compassion, the greater your resilience. Compassion is also a source of inner strength and is very important to a successful future.

54. The only sensible thing is that all different religions work together and live harmoniously, helping one another.

55. Suffering is something that we all do not desire, but it is a consequence or an effect of ignorance.

56. We must begin to appreciate the inter-connectedness between the well-being of human beings and the natural environment.

57. There are no independent causes of one’s own happiness. In order to have a happier future for oneself, you have to take care of everything which relates to you and appreciate the interconnectedness of all events and phenomena.

58. I think the most important task of any religious practitioner is to examine oneself within one’s own mind.

59. In the history of humanity there have been very tragic events which came about because of religion.

60. Personally, I feel that much of the environmental problem really stems from our insatiable desire, our lack of contentment and our greed.61. I personally believe that war cannot ever lead to the ultimate solution of a problem. Therefore, I think it is important for all the religious traditions to take a united stand and voice their opposition to every idea of war. We must DO something to bring about an end to war and conflict. The
motivating factor which triggers the need for weapons is human emotion – hatred and anger.

62. A proper way of education is the most important element in terms of hope for a better future.

63. (Talking about what is on TV): If you compare killing and sex, sex is much better! If we pretend that it is not a part of human life, that doesn’t make much sense.

64. Q: “Is it possible for an ordinary person to transform his or her fear and despair?” A. Oh, yes, it is very possible. The most important thing is to smile! I have the freedom to act according to the circumstances.

65. As the individual gains greater insight into the nature of reality, the greater the power of his or her compassion and altruism will be.

66. I would personally think that Buddhism can be defined as a sort of combination of spiritual path and philosophical system. In Buddhism, greater emphasis is given to reason and intelligence than faith.

67. According to Buddhism, it is karma, one’s own action, that really determines rebirth. Also, the state of mind at the point of death has a crucial role.

68. Spiritual development takes time; it doesn’t happen just overnight.