Yesterday, I had supper with Louis-Ferdinand Céline.
Today, I had lunch with the Dalai Lama.
Lucky moi, eh?
You see, I’ve been living all by my lonesome self for 12 years now, and it’s become a habit of mine to read while I eat my meals.
Today, for instance, I had the honour to share my sandwich and salad with His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama via his book, How to See Yourself As You Really Are.
Here’s what the Dalai Lama has to say in the introduction:
When we rise in the morning and listen to the news or read the newspaper, we are confronted with the same sad stories — violence, wars, and disasters. It is clear that even in modern times precious life is not safe: I cannot recall a single daily news program without a report of crime somewhere. There is so much bad news nowadays, such an awareness of fear and tension, that any sensitive and compassionate being must question the “progress” we have made in our modern world.
Ironically, the most serious problems emanate from industrially advanced societies, where unprecedented literacy only seems to have fostered restlessness and discontent. There is no doubt about our collective progress in many areas — especially science and technology — but somehow our advances in knowledge are not sufficient. Basic human problems remain. We have not succeeded in bringing about peace, or in reducing overall suffering.
This situation brings me to the conclusion that there may be something seriously wrong with the way we conduct our affairs, which, if not checked in time, could have disastrous consequences for the future of humanity. Science and technology have contributed immensely to the overall development of humankind, to our material comfort and well-being as well as to our understanding of the world we live in. But if we put too much emphasis on these endeavors, we are in danger of losing those aspects of human knowledge that contribute to the development of an honest and altruistic personality.
Science and technology cannot replace the age-old spiritual values that have been largely responsible for the true progress of world civilization as we know it today. Not one can deny the material benefits of modern life, but we are still faced with suffering, fear, and tension — perhaps more now than ever before. So it is only sensible to try to strike a balance between material development on the one side and development of spiritual values on the other. In order to bring about a great change, we need to revive and strengthen our inner values.
I hope that you share my concern about the present worldwide moral crisis, and that you will join me in calling on all humanitarians and religious practitioners who share this concern to contribute to making our societies more compassionate, just, and equitable. I say this not as a Buddhist or even as a Tibetan but simply as a human being. I also do not speak as an expert on international politics (though I unavoidably comment on these matters) but as a part of the Buddhist tradition, which like the traditions of other great world religions, is founded on the bedrock of concern for all beings. From this perspective, I share with you the following personal beliefs:
- That universal concern is essential to solving global problems.
- That love and compassion are the pillars of world peace.
- That all world religions seek to advance world peace, as do all humanitarians of whatever ideology.
- That each individual has a responsibility to shape institutions to serve the needs of the world.
* * *
Throughout the book, His Holiness offers step-by-step exercises to help us shatter our false assumptions and ideas… and see the world as it actually exists. So if you want to discover the reality behind appearances, put your 3D glasses on and read the book!
P.S. : I’m not too sure about No. 3 = that all world religions seek to advance world peace. How about you?