Whenever I picture the Dalai Lama, I think of him smiling. Perhaps because, in most of his published photographs, he usually is.
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, or the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, visited Milan last week (a two-hour drive from where we live), and was shown around the cathedral.
Having grown up in Buddhist Bangkok, I learned that their teachings focus on acceptance and tolerance, peace and the finding of contentment in one’s soul through a gentle way of life and a balanced mind.
But I would like to know what words were exchanged between the Catholic priests and the Dalai Lama, who learned more from who, where they found common ground in their religions or spiritual teachings. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a one-on-one conversation with the effortlessly-cheerful teacher?
On compassion in life, and our basic need to love and be loved, the Dalai Lama has this to say:
“I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves.
From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.
The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another.
No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, 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 believe that at every level of society – familial, tribal, national and international – the key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities.”
(Excerpts from “Compassion and the Individual”, courtesy of www.dalailama.com)
Here is a picture of my son, happy with a new-found friend at the airport, sharing a listen on her Ipod. Kids always have a way of making us smile as they make new friends, maybe because they aren’t judgmental, and it’s this kind of childish happiness we could all use a little more of.