It was a sight to behold as hundreds of children cutting across socio-economic strata gathered to seek the blessings of world humanitarian icon His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Delhi. This happened at the inaugural session of Smile Foundation’s special initiative “The World of Children – Seeing the world through their eyes” that aims to bring together privileged and underprivileged children on one platform and encourage them to build a better world. His Holiness spread the message of peace, compassion, kindness and universal responsibility among the children, leaving them inspired with his wise words.
Here are a few gems from the session:
“In any society there is huge gap between rich and poor. And the poor people are always left behind. It is very sad. We are all same human beings. If you go to a brain specialist and ask him the difference between two brains he will say there is no difference. People will say you are backward, you cannot learn, you cannot become of the same level. But it is only a question of opportunity. When we get the opportunity
we also can be on the top. The poor and the rich both have responsibilities – the rich must provide facilities, the poor must develop courage, self confidence, and work hard.
I always emphasise – all 7 billion human beings are mentally, emotionally, physically the same. But some become millionaires, and for some the daily source of food is also difficult. Many great Indian scholars come from very poor families, but through hard work and practice, eventually they became scholars, spiritual leaders. So, in order to become more equal, education is the key factor.
On one occasion, in Bombay, a family came to see me and asked me for blessing. Then I told them I have nothing to give you in the name of blessing but it seems you are a rich family. So the source of blessing is in your own hand. From your money, you can help thousands of slum children in Bombay. That’s the best way to get blessing. On one occasion, some students after my speech came and said they want to do something. I told them, at least where you live nearby there must be some slum children, and you should make some sort of effort to educate.
When I see children in different parts of the world – facing starvation, dying, completely neglected, I feel sometimes… tears come, I cannot do anything. But there are human rights organisations; there are some people who look after these children – wonderful. You are one of them taking care – really wonderful.
Young students, when I see you, I also feel younger. When I meet my old friends, I sometimes feel whether they will go (die) first or I will go (die) first. But when I see young students, I feel something fresh. Either way, time is always moving. No force can stop time. Past is past. We can only learn what has happened – no way to change that. Future has not yet come. So, we can change the future. Younger generation, generation of 21st century – you have the opportunity; you have the responsibility to create this century a better century, peaceful century, compassionate century. That’s your responsibility. My generation – generation of 20th century – we can only share our own experience with young people.
Now all our hope is these young children. In order to make significant contribution to the world, firstly, you need determination, education and sense of universal responsibility.
Question 1: Why do negative thoughts attract human beings more than positive thoughts?
Dalai Lama: Anger, attachment are linked with self-centred attitude – me, me. For survival, even flowers, trees, they also have certain sort of cell. They receive useful things that are important for their survival. And they also have some cell to expel something harming their survival. Similarly, we are sensory beings – not only in a physical sense but also mental, or emotional. Certain emotions you use to protect yourself. Some harmful things come, anger comes – expel; attachment – bring; love – bring. But then sometimes these emotions become extreme – then they are very harmful. Taking care of oneself is logically very important. But when these emotions become extreme they create trouble within our own mind. Then finally you think only about yourself, your health; because your mind is disturbed. As a result, there is too much anxiety, too much stress and anger, which are very harmful for your physical heath. Now, we also have the potential to tackle these things because we have brain. But when our marvellous brain becomes disposed to anger then, it becomes very dangerous, very harmful. So we must analyse. Analytical meditation is very important.
Question 2: I always help my friends. But when I need help, there is no one around. This compels me to become selfish too. So how should I deal with this?
Dalai Lama: In order to answer your question, I need to spend more time with you – watching you. It is easy to blame your friend. But you yourself, your attitude is also somewhat relevant here. Friendship is very important. We are social animals. So, genuine friendship comes on the basis of trust. Trust comes if you show them respect. If you show them concern or a sense of their well-being. Otherwise you see, friends come to you for different reasons with a smile, but these smiles are temporary, superficial. Not when you really need them. In such sort of friendship, when you are successful – then these friends come. When you are facing some difficulties, these friends will not take care of you. So friendship has to be wholehearted, and you yourself have to cultivate the base for that. That’s my view.
will give my own example – I always consider myself as a simple Buddhist monk and one human being out of the 7 billion, I never consider myself special. If I consider myself special, then I cannot communicate with other people in a normal way. When I consider I am one of you, then we can easily communicate with each other and in a completely informal way. Then trust comes. So, therefore
your own attitude towards others makes a difference.
Question 3: Can we ever have a world where we all are equal?
Dalai Lama: 100% impossible. Each person has different chromosome. Accordingly, 7 billion beings – different chromosomes and different thinking. However, we all have common experience. 7 billion beings come from their mother. They receive maximum amount of love and affection from their parents, particularly from their mother. So, all have same experiences. So, the scientists say the basic human nature is more compassionate.
Here, I may tell you this story: 30 years back, I had a serious discussion with scientists. On one occasion, it was about a cartoon picture showing two boys – two children helping each other and playing. When that cartoon was shown to an infant child about 6 month old – language not yet developed, the cartoon had a positive attitude – the infant child was smiling. Then, there was another cartoon with two children showing negative attitude towards each other. When that cartoon was shown to that infant child – the infant child disliked it. By nature, we are biologically social animals, we appreciate love, friendship. We don’t like negative thinking
Certainly, if we use common sense, common experience, certainly we can create a more compassionate world – through education, not through prayer. If we introduce in this country secular education, we should include education of hygiene of emotion – value of love, kindness and compassion. Not talking about religious things.
Usually the practice of love and compassion is for the good use of others. Not yourself. But in some cases, I think in the materialistic world, sometimes the more compassionate a person is people feel it is a weakness. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent principle – the British thought was a weakness. His dress looked like a beggar’s, so his mind must also be very weak. But now, the whole world appreciates Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent principle. Usually, a compassionate mind is more humble – so people consider it a weakness. I feel materialistic education creates a materialistic society. Materialistic life. Materialistic culture. This way of life spoils our deeper human values. Through education, through our efforts, the world can be better.
Question 4: What are the various ways through which privileged children can help the underprivileged children?
Dalai Lama: I think there are mainly two ways: firstly, education. And second, facility. Facility means proper teachers and teachers’ salary, classrooms, and so on. You need money for this. Then education, as we discussed there is a need for more holistic education. Sometimes I feel, the people, children who come from poorer section may be more honest. Their day to day lives are very much touched with human nature. Children from luxurious background tend live more artificial lives, I feel. So you can teach the underprivileged sincerely. If you have some money in your family, help in providing facilities, including books.
Question 5: Were you mischievous when you were a child? Did you get punishments?
Dalai Lama: I was a lazy student. I was reluctant to study. My elder brother and I studied together. My teacher used to keep two whips – one whip – ordinary; one whip yellow holy whip. For Dalai Lama, holy student, holy whip. I knew that when holy whip is used there is no difference of holy pain. So, my teacher occasionally threatened me with the whip. But one way I was naughty. And one way I was timid. I studied out of fear. When the next day was some holiday, during night I felt much excited. Sometimes when I got a few days’ holiday and then lessons started, I felt demoralised.
I also grew up like ordinary human being. In my poor village, I was born in a cow shed. I had nothing to play with. My mother carried me when she went for farming. She would carry me and milk animals. I felt very comfortable on my mother’s shoulders. My mother was very kind. Very, very kind. So, I became very spoilt, bold. I would hold my mother’s ears and control her movements. I want to go this side – then I would pull this ear. I want to go that side – then I pull that ear. If my mother did not follow my instructions, I shouted. Sometimes I would bully my mother. My elder brother was very, very humble and gentle. My immediate brother, two years elder to me. But I bullied him. When we fought, my weapon was my nails. So later my brother faced some marks – my nails of blessing.
I received maximum love from mother. My mother is my first teacher. She taught me love. Seed of love and compassion I have first learnt from mother. We all come from our mother. We all have the seed of love and kindness. We should pay more attention. These things are very, very helpful to achieve a happy life. When your mind is happy and calm, even if there are some problems and difficulties, it is very easy to face these problems. Once mind gets disturbed – even when small problems happen, you feel desperate, even suicidal. When your mind is at peace with self confidence – you can utilise your brain properly. If too much emotion comes, we cannot utilise our brain properly, because our emotions will make us look at things from only one angle. Anger, attachment, jealousy – only let us look from one angle. Without emotion we can use intelligence in an unbiased way – then we can take holistic view, the intensity of anger will automatically reduce. Not through prayer. I am a Buddhist. I pray. But I do not think real change through prayer is possible. For real change, use your intelligence. Analyse. That’s the proper way. It is called vipasana – analytical meditation.