Ethics for the New Millennium - by HH Dalai Lama



my notes:

In many cases, progress has meant hardly anything more than greater numbers of opulent houses in more cities, with more cars driving between them.


Humans can live quite well without recourse to religious faith.

Spirituality deals with those qualities of the human spirit - such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony - which bring happiness to both self and others.

Religion is something we can perhaps do without.

Establishing binding ethical principles is possible when we take as our starting point the observation that we all desire happiness and wish to avoid suffering.

What science holds to be true today is liable to change.

Indulging our senses and drinking salt water are alike: the more we partake, the more our desire and thirst grow.

There is no hope of attaining lasting happiness if we lack inner peace.

Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

It is surely not a coincidence that the lives of most criminals turn out to have been lonely and lacking in love.

Human beings’ ability to smile is one of our most beautiful characteristics. It is something no animal can do.

Where there is consciousness, hatred, ignorance and violence do indeed arise naturally.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the popularity of the belief that human nature is aggressive lies in our continual exposure to bad news through the media. Yet the very cause of this is surely that good news is not news.

When we act out of concern for others, our behavior toward them is automatically positive. We have no room for suspicion when our hearts are filled with love.

We tend to see negative emotions as an integral part of our mind about which we can do very little. However, in failing to recognize their destructive potential, we do not see the need to challenge them.

We need to think, think, think. We should be like a scientist who collects data, analyzes it, and draws the appropriate conclusion. Gaining insight into our own negativity is a lifelong task, and one which is capable of almost infinite refinement.

Afflictive emotions destroy one of our most precious qualities, namely, our capacity for discriminative awareness.

Most anger is an indication of weakness rather than of strength.

There is nothing much we can do about old age. Far better to accept our condition than to fret about it. Indeed, it always strikes be as a bit foolish when elderly people try to maintain an appearance of youthfulness.

When patience (Tibetan: so pa) is combined with our ability to discriminate between action and agent, forgiveness arises naturally.

Those who would harm us give us unparalleled opportunities to practice disciplined behavior.

A child brought up in a violent environment may not know any other way to behave. As a result, the question of blame is rendered largely redundant.

We tend to concentrate on just one or two aspects of our situation. In so doing, we inevitably restrict ourselves to finding means to overcoming only these aspects.

Above all, we should remember that as long as we retain the capacity of concern for others, the potential for transformation remains.

There is nothing amazing about being highly educated; there is nothing amazing about being rich. Only when the individual has a warm heart do these attributes become worthwhile.

To suppose that KARMA is some sort of independent energy which predestines the course of our whole life is simply incorrect.

The degree to which suffering affects us is largely up to us.

Nothing within the realm of what we commonly experience is permanent.

If nothing can change the situation, worrying only makes it worse.

In the long run, causing others hurt and disturbing their peace and happiness causes us anxiety.

There is a Tibetan proverb which says that when we lie on a mountain of gold, some of it rubs off on us; the same happens if we lie on a mountain of dirt.

Universal Responsibility: when we see an opportunity to benefit others, we will take it in preference to merely looking after our own narrow interests.

Discontentment breeds acquisitiveness, which can never be satisfied.

Education is much more than a matter of imparting the knowledge and skills by which narrow goals are achieved. It is also about opening the child’s eyes to the needs and rights of others. We must show children that their actions have a universal dimension.

It is essential that we eliminate from our schools’ curricula ANY tendency toward presenting others in a negative light.

When the media focuses too closely on the negative aspects of human nature, there is a danger that we become persuaded that violence an aggression are its principal characteristics.

Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or wha they are: ultimately these are all we need.