A conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

A conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Written by on June 10, 2015 in Happiness, Young People with 2 Comments

Dalai-LamaHis Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama enters the stage and bows to the audience. Everyone is standing, humbled by the sight of this incredible, compassionate leader. He smiles and casually indicates everyone to sit down, as if they are making too much of a fuss.

Richard Fidler tells the audience a little about the Dalai Lama’s personal experiences. At age 16 he lost his freedom, and at 24 he became a refugee. His first question for the Dalai Lama concerns his response to these experiences.

“If you think about only the problem, more frustration,” His Holiness says. “On this planet, sad events happen every day, everywhere.” Despite this, the Dalai Lama has faith in humanity.

“Basic human nature is compassionate. That’s the source of my happiness”

He explains further: “Overall, I think, I feel, human beings are becoming more mature and looking at the deeper nature of our lives.” These days, people are starting to realise that there are limitations to the happiness that comes from money and material things.

“I became a refugee, it was a very sad event but it also brought many opportunities to meet with people from different backgrounds and learn different experiences. So I can maintain a happy mood,” he concludes.

“How important is it to accept that there are things you can’t change?” Richard asks.

The Dalai Lama’s advice is that if there is a way you can try to change the situation, then try. If there is no way to overcome the situation, then there is no need to worry!

He gives us an example of dealing with grief in his own life. “When I received news that my special friend had died, and then my main teacher had had a stroke and later died, I thought, ‘It already happened, nothing can be done.’ Very sad, but the sadness I try to translate, bring more enthusiasm, more determination: ‘I must fulfil my teacher’s wish!’ The sadness was transformed into a source of strength. The closer connection you have to someone, the more responsibility you have to fulfil that person’s wish,” he says.

The Dalai Lama says that we must have realistic expectations in order to have a realistic life. “We must know reality fully. We must use this human intelligence. Just analyse the situation, the reality. Then your effort becomes realistic.”

Richard states that Buddhist tradition values compassion over attachment and asks His Holiness, “How different is love from attachment?”

The Dalai Lama says that love has two levels. The kind of affectionate, biased love you have towards your friends cannot extend towards your enemies. But there is another kind of love. “We are social animals,” His Holiness reminds us. Today, there are 7 billion human beings. “Think, ‘The rest of humanity is the basis of my future interest’. 7 billion human beings want a happy life. Think on that level. The oneness of 7 billion human beings. Include your enemy. Another level of affection, that we can do.”

“How should we extend compassion towards someone who means to do us harm?” Richard asks.

“That person also has every right to be a happy person,” the Dalai Lama says. “You can keep a serious compassionate attitude towards that person.” :Loving your enemy does not come automatically, “You need effort! You need training and to take time.”

His Holiness tells a story about someone he knew who spent many years in a Chinese gulag who came to him one day, after his release, and said that he felt he was in danger. “For his life? No, the danger of losing compassion towards perpetrators.” The Dalai Lama jokes that this monk’s practice is probably more advanced than his own. “If I had that kind of situation, I don’t know what would come!”

Richard asks the Dalai Lama if he you ever feels outraged.

He tells a story about an interview with a New York Times journalist in New Jersey who pestered him with the question, “What do you want for your legacy?”

“I told her, I’m a Buddhist practitioner, I should not have that concern about my name.”

The journalist asked him two, three more times, “Then I lost my temper!” The crowd giggles in response, no doubt imaging what the Dalai Lama losing his temper would look like. “After a year”, he said, “we gathered in New York and laughed, recalling that incident.”

“So if you ask me a stupid question, I may lose my temper!” he warns Richard. The audience laughs as Richard pretends to scrap two thirds of his questions.

“You spent your early life closed off from the world, then spent a lot of time travelling to wealthy countries like Australia, America. What surprised you about the way people live in these countries?” Richard asks.

“Not much,” he says. “When I first visited Europe and America, and Soviet Union in 1979, there was something familiar.”

When the Dalai Lama met the Chancellor of a prestigious university with many thousands of students, he realised that this person was very stressed and unhappy. They talked, and things were better afterwards. “In such cases,” the Dalai Lama says, “where people are materially successful and have a high profile, that doesn’t have anything to do with inner peace and happiness.”

The Dalai Lama tells another story about a time he met a Catholic monk in Barcelona, Spain who requested to meet His Holiness. The monk had spent five years living a hermit life. When they met, he told His Holiness about his hermit life living with very little: just bread, water, and meditating on love.

“In his eyes and face was something very happy and peaceful,” His Holiness says. The monk had very little concern for material things. “This shows: inner peace is the ultimate source of a happy life.” The Dalai Lama says that Tibetan monks, Hindus, and many special practitioners know this. “It doesn’t depend on money or fame or modern education. Modern education is oriented around material gain. We should think seriously about whether this is really adequate to bring happiness to people.”

His Holiness asks, “How do we add some education about inner value to secular education?” He talks briefly about scientists who are conducting experiments in schools in Canada for the inclusion of this type of education.

His final remarks are about consumerism in our own country.

“In Australia, there are many shops. But there are no shops that sell peace of mind. If you go to a shop and say, ‘I want to buy peace of mind’, they will laugh, or think there is something wrong with your mind!”

The Dalai Lama knows that the true source of happiness exists within our own minds and loving hearts.


His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, is the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a spiritual leader revered worldwide. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989 for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. This is summary of his presentation at Happiness & Its Causes 2015.

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  1. 8 Takeaways From The Happiness & Its Causes Conference | June 15, 2015
  2. Happiness & Its Causes | RiseFitBlog | June 15, 2015

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