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Ecology and the Human Heart

By His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on Monday September 23rd, 2019

The Ripple Effect of Finding Internal Balance

According to Buddhist teaching, there is a very close interdependence between the natural environment and the sentient beings living in it. Some of my friends have told me that basic human nature is somewhat violent, but I told them I disagree. If we examine different animals, for example, those whose very survival depends on taking others lives, such as tigers or lions, we learnt that their basic nature provides them with sharp fangs and claws. Peaceful animals, such as deer, which are completely vegetarian, are gentler and have smaller teeth and no claws. From that viewpoint we human beings have a non-violent nature. As to the question of human survival, human beings are social animals. In order to survive we need companions. Without other human beings there is simply no possibility of surviving; that is a law of nature.

Since I deeply believe that human beings are basically gentle by nature, I feel that we should not only maintain gentle, peaceful relations with our fellow human beings but also that it is very important to extend the same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.

We should be concerned for our whole environment.We depend on our environment and our environment depends on us.

Then there is another viewpoint, not just a question of ethics but a question of our own survival. The environment is very important not only for this generation but also for future generations. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, even though we may get some money or other benefit from it now, in the long run we ourselves will suffer and future generations will suffer. When the environment changes, climatic conditions also change. When they change dramatically, the economy and many other things change as well. Even our physical health will be greatly affected. So this is not merely a moral question but also a question of our own survival.

Therefore, in order to succeed in the protection and conservation of the natural environment, I think it is important first of all to bring about an internal balance within human beings themselves. The abuse of the environment, which has resulted in such harm to the human community, arose out of ignorance of the importance of the environment. I think it is essential to help people to understand this. We need to teach people that the environment has a direct bearing on our own benefit.

I am always talking about the importance of compassionate thought. As I said earlier, even from your own selfish viewpoint, you need other people. So, if you develop concern for other people’s welfare, share other people’s suffering, and help them, ultimately you will benefit. If you think only of yourself and forget about others, ultimately you will lose. That is also something like a law of nature.

Caring for othersCaring for others is also caring for ourselves.

It is quite simple: if you do not smile at people, but frown at them, they respond similarly, don’t they? If you deal with other people in a very sincere, open way, they behave similarly. Everybody wants to have friends and does not want enemies. The proper way to create friends is to have a warm heart, not simply money or power. The friend of power and the friend of money are something different: These are not true friends. True friends should be real friends of heart, shouldn’t they? I am always telling people that those friends who come around when you have money and power are not truly your friends, but friends of money and power, because as soon as the money and power disappear, those friends are also ready to leave. They are not reliable.

Genuine, human friends stand by, whether you are successful or unlucky, and always share your sorrow and burdens. The way to make such friends is not by being angry, nor by having good education or intelligence, but by having a good heart.

FriendsTrue connection comes from the heart. From kindness.

To think more deeply, if you must be selfish, then be wisely selfish, not narrow-mindedly selfish. The key thing is the sense of universal responsibility; that is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness. If our generation exploits everything available – the trees, the water, and the minerals – without any care for the coming generations or the future, then we are at fault, aren’t we? But if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relations with our neighbors, both domestic and international, improves.

Another important question is: What is consciousness, what is the mind? In the Western world, during the last one or two centuries there has been great emphasis on science and technology, which mainly deal with matter. Today some nuclear physicists and neurologists say that when you investigate particles in a very detailed way, there is some kind of influence from the side of the observer, the knower. What is this knower? A simple answer is; A human being, the scientist. How does the scientist know? With the brain, Western scientists have identified only a few hundred so far. Now, whether you call it mind, brain, or consciousness, there is a relationship between brain and mind and also mind and matter. I think this is important. I feel it is possible to hold some sort of dialogue between Eastern philosophy and Western science on the basis of this relationship.

No doctor can give you an injection of mental peace, and no market can sell it to you.No doctor can give you an injection of mental peace, and no market can sell it to you.

In any case, these days we human beings are very much more involved in the external world, while we neglect the internal world. We do need scientific development and material development in order to survive and to increase the general benefit and prosperity, but equally as much we need mental peace. Yet no doctor can give you an injection of mental peace, and no market can sell it to you. If you go to a supermarket with millions and millions of dollars, you can buy anything, but if you go there and ask for peace of mind, people will laugh. And if you ask a doctor for genuine peace of mind, not the mere sedation you get from taking some kind of pill or injection, the doctor cannot help you.

Even today’s sophisticated computers cannot provide you with mental peace. Mental peace must come from the mind. Everyone wants happiness and pleasure, but if we compare physical pleasure and physical pain with mental pleasure and mental pain, we find that the mind is more effective, predominant, and superior. Thus it is worthwhile adopting certain methods to increase mental peace, and in order to do that, it is important to know more about the mind. When we talk about preservation of the environment, it is related to many other things. The key point is to have genuine sense of universal responsibility, based on love and compassion, and clear awareness.

Words By His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

Originally posted on Dalai Lama

 

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13 Responses to Ecology and the Human Heart

  1. You live by sword you die by sword.it is very difficult to brake that circle.But one who knows unconditional love will transform hate into love .Yes very difficult but that is human quest.
    How much time do we spent to learn different subjects,lets add love as subject number one and then let,s see.

    • Yes that would be ideal, wouldn’t it? More love taught, but at least leading by example in our everyday actions can still have an impact, so that’s a good start!

      Blessings,
      Team UPLIFT

  2. I believe what is been termed “human nature”is “human tendency”and is created by our culture, if we are born into a militaristic culture it forms a perspective that it OK to solve our problems with violence and it is OK to make our living producing weapons. Then we must look to a way to use those weapons, ie war. If our culture is based on compassion and caring, we are going to have a “human nature” of love and solve problems such as legal means.
    It is said “no one is born a racist”. However most of us are born into a racist culture, not all of us buy into the racist policies. Is it our “human nature” to buy and sell other humans?
    I don’t think so, but if that is the culture, we might not fight against that policy.
    It is more likely we have a human tendency to be co-operative.

  3. Sorry to be contrarian here, but I do need to question HHDL’s premise about humans vs animals. It is true we do not have claws or fangs like a tiger, but oh my goodness, look at our WPMs! As part of our human nature, created with our own hands and minds, we have missiles, nuclear bombs, and automatic rifles designed specifically for killing and maiming other humans— and we don’t just do it to eat or defend habitat, the way animals kill for survival. We do it for capturing resources and changing regimes in other humans’ habitats around the world, even though we have more than enough to feed ourselves in our own habitat. So while I love the IDEA and the IDEAL that humans are peaceful beings, I think the jury will have to stay out a while longer on the question whether humans are less voracious than any other species on the planet. How many Tibetans were killed just so China could claim that Tibet is part of its empire as opposed to being a peace-loving independent country?

  4. The greatness and mindfulness comes from sharing the great news about our universal language we can learn so much form the simplecities of life working in correlation and adapting to a sense of awareness and our environments working with our internal clocks and manifestations life perspectives and challenges we nned to be rooted in good earthy vessels matters to live within the spheres of an ever changing world

  5. When i talk similar things, when i write similar articles no one reads, no one publishes. Because people are more concerned about WHO’S THE ONE HOLDONG PEN.
    Sadly one has to be someone as big as HH so people can publish , read and accept it.

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