The more adept we become at cultivating an altruistic attitude, the happier we will feel and the more comfortable will be the atmosphere around us. But if our emotions fluctuate wildly and we easily give in to hatred and jealousy, even our friends will avoid us. So even for people with no spiritual beliefs, it is important to have a peaceful mind.
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Once you develop confidence in your own ability, you'll be able to make a real contribution to creating a better world. Self-confidence is very important. Not in the sense of blind pride, but as a realistic awareness of what you can do. As human beings we can transform ourselves by our good qualities and reducing our faults. Our intelligence enables us to judge what is good from what is harmful.
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In order to develop the willpower it takes to sacrifice, you must first realize that spending all your time and energy pursuing material comforts means you will eventually suffer. It's all about positive and negative consequences. It's very important to be aware that there are long-term consequences [for every action].
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Democratic institutions are necessary and very important, and if I remained at the head of government, it could be an obstacle to democratic practice. Also, if I were to remain, then I would have to join one of the parties. If the Dalai Lama joins one party, then that makes it hard for the system to work.
The antidote to hatred in the heart, the source of violence, is tolerance. Tolerance is an important virtue of bodhisattvas [enlightened heroes and heroines] - it enables you to refrain from reacting angrily to the harm inflicted on you by others. You could call this practice "inner disarmament," in that a well-developed tolerance makes you free from the compulsion to counterattack. For the same reason, we also call tolerance the "best armor," since it protects you from being conquered by hatred itself.
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An important distinction can be made between religion and spirituality. Religion [is] concerned with faith in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition... Spirituality is concerned with qualities of the human spirit, love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, that bring happiness both to self.
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The most important thing in life is human affection. Without it one cannot achieve genuine happiness. And if we want a happier life, a happier family, happier neighbours or a happier nation, the key is inner quality. Even if the five billion human beings that inhabit the earth become millionaires, without inner development there cannot be peace or any lasting happiness.
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The mind is key. If anything should be considered a god, so to speak, it is the mind, not money. A healthy positive mind is the utmost priority. But if we were to reverse the order of these priorities, what would happen? I find it hard to imagine how a person with great wealth, bad health, no friends, and no peace of mind could feel even slightly happy.
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Misunderstanding may arise by confusing the Buddhist and scientific definitions of death. Within the scientific system you spoke quite validly of the death of the brain and the death of heart. Different parts of the body can die separately. However, in the Buddhist system, the word death is not used in that way. You'd never speak of the death of a particular part of the body, but rather of the death of an entire person. When people say that a certain person died, we don't ask, "Well, which part died?"
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The ultimate source of a happy life is warm-heartedness. This means extending to others the kind of concern we have for ourselves. On a simple level we find that if we have a compassionate heart we naturally have more friends. And scientists today are discovering that while anger and hatred eat into our immune system, warm-heartedness and compassion are good for our health.
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Whether one is rich or poor, educated or illiterate, religious or nonbelieving, man or woman, black, white, or brown, we are all the same. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are all equal. We all share basic needs for food, shelter, safety, and love. We all aspire to happiness and we all shun suffering. Each of us has hopes, worries, fears, and dreams. Each of us wants the best for our family and loved ones. We all experience pain when we suffer loss and joy when we achieve what we seek. On this fundamental level, religion, ethnicity, culture, and language make no difference.
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According to my own experience, the highest level of inner calm comes from the development of love and compassion. The more concerned we are with the happiness of others, the more we increase our own well-being. Friendliness and warmth towards others allow us to relax and help us to dispel any sense of fear or insecurity so we can overcome whatever obstacles we face.
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At a fundamental level, as human beings, we are all the same; each one of us aspires to happiness and each one of us does not wish to suffer. This is why, whenever I have the opportunity, I try to draw people's attention to what as members of the human family we have in common and the deeply interconnected nature of our existence and welfare.
Whether we consider the individual, family, local, national or international level, peace must arise from inner peace. For example, making prayers for peace while continuing to harbor anger is futile. Training the mind and overcoming your anger is much more effective than mere prayer. Anger, hatred and jealousy never solve problems, only affection, concern and respect can do that.
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To help us bring benefit to others through our words and actions, it is useful to cultivate an attitude of sympathetic joy in others' achievements and good fortune. This attitude is a powerful antidote against envy, which is not only a source of unnecessary suffering on the individual level but also an obstacle to our ability to reach out and engage with others.
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Giving material goods is one form of generosity, but one can extend an attitude of generosity into all one's behavior. Being kind, attentive, and honest in dealing with others, offering praise where it is due, giving comfort and advice where they are needed, and simply sharing one's time with someone - all these are forms of generosity, and they do not require any particular level of material wealth.
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Friends, genuine friends, are attracted by a warm heart, not money, not power. A genuine friend considers you as just another human being, as a brother or sister, and shows affection on that level, regardless of whether you are rich or poor, or in a high position; that is a genuine friend.
Everyone wants to be happy; happiness is a right. And while on a secondary level differences exist of nationality, faith, family background, social status and so on, more important is that on a human level we are the same. None of us wants to face problems, and yet we create them by stressing our differences. If we see each other just as fellow human beings, there'll be no basis for fighting or conflict between us.
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The great benefit of science is that it can contribute tremendously to the alleviation of suffering at the physical level, but it is only through the cultivation of the qualities of the human heart and the transformation of our attitudes that we can begin to address and overcome our mental suffering
On the philosophical level, both Buddhism and modern science share a deep suspicion of any notion of absolutes, whether conceptualize as a transcendent being, as an eternal, unchanging principle such as soul, or as a fundamental substratum of reality. ... In the Buddhist investigation of reality, at least in principle, empirical evidence should triumph over scriptural authority, no matter how deeply venerated a scripture may be.
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If humanity is to survive, happiness and inner balance are crucial. Otherwise the lives of our children and their children are more likely to be unhappy, desperate and short. Material development certainly contributes to happiness - to some extent - and a comfortable way of life. But this is not sufficient. To achieve a deeper level of happiness we cannot neglect our inner development.
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What is the relationship between spirituality and ethical practice? Since love and compassion and similar qualities all, by definition, presume some level of concern for others' well-being, they presume ethical restraint. We cannot be loving and compassionate unless at the same time we curb our own harmful impulses and desires.
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The right way to deal with mental unhappiness must be within the mind too. On an emotional level, anger, fear and worry bring unhappiness. Scientists say they eat into our immune system. On the other hand, we are also equipped with a sense of affection and compassionate concern for the well-being of others.
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Sensory experience does not offset the intense pain or pleasure we feel on a mental level; it may distract us, but doesn't overcome it. On the other hand, if we have peace of mind, even negative experiences do not upset us. Peace of mind is also good for our physical health. Medical experts have found that anger, hatred and fear eat into our immune system. Being calm and relaxed is better for our physical well-being.
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Today we face many problems. Some are created essentially by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, economic status, or other factors. Therefore, the time has come for us to think on a deeper level, on the human level, and from that level we should appreciate and respect the sameness of others as human beings.
We can't blame the entire Muslim society because of the mischievous acts of a few individuals. Therefore, at the general public level we must cultivate the notion of not just one religion, one truth, but pluralism and many truths. We can change the atmosphere, and we can modify certain ways of thinking.
Religion, any religion, no matter what sort of wonderful religion, never be universal. So now education is universal, so we have to sort of find ways and means through education system, from kindergarten up to university level, to make awareness these good things, the values, inner values.
Whether it is under the guise of survival and self-defence or directly expressed through dominion and greed, the failure to recognize the common humanity shared by us all lies at the heart of our difficulties. To overcome it, we should begin to develop, from the level of the individual through that of society to the world at large, what I call a sense of universal responsibility; a deep respect for every living being who lives on this one small planet and calls it home.
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In daily practice, reflect on the benefits of love, compassion and kindness, then reflect on the disadvantages of anger. Such continuous contemplation, the growing appreciation of love, has the effect of reducing our inclination towards hatred and increasing our respect for love. By this means even anger can be diminished.
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Compassionate thought is the most precious thing there is. It is something that only we human beings can develop. And if we have a good heart, a warm heart, warm feelings, we will be happy and satisfied ourselves, and our friends will experience a friendly and peaceful atmosphere as well. This can be experienced community to community, country to country, continent to continent.
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My call for a spiritual revolution is not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow otherworldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather it is a call for a radical reorientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self. It is a call to turn toward the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others' interests alongside our own.
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Peace starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.
Sometimes we feel that one individual's action is very insignificant. Then we think, of course, that effects should come from channeling or from a unifying movement. But the movement of the society, community or group of people means joining individuals. Society means a collection of individuals, so that initiative must come from individuals. Unless each individual develops a sense of responsibility, the whole community cannot move. So therefore, it is very essential that we should not feel that individual effort is meaningless- you should not feel that way. We should make an effort.
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As far as your personal requirements are concerned, the ideal is to have fewer involvements, fewer obligations, and fewer affairs, business or whatever. However, so far as the interest of the larger community is concerned, you must have as many involvements as possible and as many activities as possible.
It is my belief that whereas the twentieth century has been a century of war and untold suffering, the twenty-first century should be one of peace and dialogue. As the continued advances in information technology make our world a truly global village, I believe there will come a time when war and armed conflict will be considered an outdated and obsolete method of settling differences among nations and communities.
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Once we have a firm practice of compassion our state of mind becomes stronger which leads to inner peace, giving rise to self-confidence, which reduces fear. This makes for constructive members of the community. Self-centredness on the other hand leads to distance, suspicion, mistrust and loneliness, with unhappiness as the result.
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The question of real, lasting world peace concerns human beings, so basic human feelings are also at its roots. Through inner peace, genuine world peace can be achieved. In this the importance of individual responsibility is quite clear; an atmosphere of peace must first be created within ourselves, then gradually expanded to include our families, our communities, and ultimately the whole planet.
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Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed within an individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere can be expanded and extended from the individual to his family, from the family to the community and eventually to the whole world.
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