A Human Approach to World Peace

By Dalai Lama on Tuesday January 16th, 2018

Let's Put Our Shared Humanitarian Values to Work

For renewal of human values and attainment of lasting happiness, we need to look to the common humanitarian heritage of all nations the world over.

When we rise in the morning and listen to the radio or read the newspaper, we are confronted with the same sad news: violence, crime, wars, and disasters. I cannot recall a single day without a report of something terrible happening somewhere. Even in these modern times it is clear that one’s precious life is not safe. No former generation has had to experience so much bad news as we face today; this constant awareness of fear and tension should make any sensitive and compassionate person question seriously the progress of our modern world.

Child TV FearWe are overwhelmed by bad news every day

Something’s Wrong with our Progress and Development

It is ironic that the more serious problems emanate from the more industrially advanced societies. Science and technology have worked wonders in many fields, but the basic human problems remain. There is unprecedented literacy, yet this universal education does not seem to have fostered goodness, but only mental restlessness and discontent instead. There is no doubt about the increase in our material progress and technology, but somehow this is not sufficient as we have not yet succeeded in bringing about peace and happiness or in overcoming suffering.

We can only conclude that there must be something seriously wrong with our progress and development, and if we do not check it in time there could be disastrous consequences for the future of humanity. I am not at all against science and technology – they have contributed immensely to the overall experience of humankind; to our material comfort and well-being and to our greater understanding of the world we live in. But if we give too much emphasis to science and technology we are in danger of losing touch with those aspects of human knowledge and understanding that aspire towards honesty and altruism.

What future will innovation bringWhere will science and technology take us?

Reviving our Humanitarian Values

Science and technology, though capable of creating immeasurable material comfort, cannot replace the age-old spiritual and humanitarian values that have largely shaped world civilization, in all its national forms, as we know it today.

No one can deny the unprecedented material benefit of science and technology, but our basic human problems remain; we are still faced with the same, if not more, suffering, fear, and tension. Thus it is only logical to try to strike a balance between material developments on the one hand and the development of spiritual, human values on the other. In order to bring about this great adjustment, we need to revive our humanitarian values.

I am sure that many people share my concern about the present worldwide moral crisis and will join in my appeal to all humanitarians and religious practitioners who also share this concern to help make our societies more compassionate, just, and equitable.

Humanitarian ValuesHumanitarian values

I do not speak as a Buddhist or even as a Tibetan. Nor do I speak as an expert on international politics (though I unavoidably comment on these matters). Rather, I speak simply as a human being, as an upholder of the humanitarian values that are the bedrock not only of Mahayana Buddhism but of all the great world religions. From this perspective I share with you my personal outlook – that:

  • Universal humanitarianism is essential to solve global problems;
  • Compassion is the pillar of world peace;
  • All world religions are already for world peace in this way, as are all humanitarians of whatever ideology;
  • Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs.

Two Types of Happiness and Suffering

Broadly speaking there are two types of happiness and suffering, mental and physical, and of the two, I believe that mental suffering and happiness are the more acute. Hence, I stress the training of the mind to endure suffering and attain a more lasting state of happiness.

Training of the mindTraining of the mind for inner and outer peace

However, I also have a more general and concrete idea of happiness: a combination of inner peace, economic development, and, above all, world peace. To achieve such goals I feel it is necessary to develop a sense of universal responsibility, a deep concern for all irrespective of creed, colour, sex, or nationality.

The premise behind this idea of universal responsibility is the simple fact that, in general terms, all others’ desires are the same as mine. Every being wants happiness and does not want suffering. If we, as intelligent human beings, do not accept this fact, there will be more and more suffering on this planet.

Desiring Happiness for All People

If we adopt a self-centred approach to life and constantly try to use others for our own self-interest, we may gain temporary benefits, but in the long run we will not succeed in achieving even personal happiness, and world peace will be completely out of the question.

Nation of NarcissistsA Nation of narcissists will never know peace

In their quest for happiness, humans have used different methods, which all too often have been cruel and repellent. Behaving in ways utterly unbecoming to their status as humans, they inflict suffering upon fellow humans and other living beings for their own selfish gains.

In the end, such shortsighted actions bring suffering to oneself as well as to others. To be born a human being is a rare event in itself, and it is wise to use this opportunity as effectively and skillfully as possible. We must have the proper perspective that of the universal life process, so that the happiness or glory of one person or group is not sought at the expense of others.

A New Approach

All this calls for a new approach to global problems. The world is becoming smaller and smaller – and more and more interdependent – as a result of rapid technological advances and international trade as well as increasing trans-national relations. We now depend very much on each other. In ancient times problems were mostly family-size, and they were naturally tackled at the family level, but the situation has changed.

Working together for peaceWe need a new approach to work together

Today we are so interdependent, so closely interconnected with each other, that without a sense of universal responsibility, a feeling of universal brotherhood and sisterhood, and an understanding and belief that we really are part of one big human family, we cannot hope to overcome the dangers to our very existence – let alone bring about peace and happiness.

I have written the above lines
To tell my constant feeling.
Whenever I meet even a ‘foreigner’,
I have always the same feeling:
‘I am meeting another member of the human family.,
This attitude has deepened
My affection and respect for all beings.
May this natural wish be
My small contribution to world peace.
I pray for a more friendly,
More caring, and more understanding
Human family on this planet.
To all who dislike suffering,
Who cherish lasting happiness –
This is my heartfelt appeal.

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.




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The Dalai Lama on the Reality of War


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2 Responses to A Human Approach to World Peace

  1. Very good piece…and I agree very much with “Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs.” and my only reason for still being alive at the moment is to share truth that has been hidden and is rejected….all of psychiatry is a con and a fraud…and all government other than self-government is evil….tolerance is not a good thing…it means you have judged something unacceptable, but are allowing it in your life..there is right and wrong…and it is not a matter of perspective…neither is the truth (a matter of perspective)..it just is…and it is NEVER decided democratically…

    HOWEVER, where you say “Broadly speaking there are two types of happiness and suffering, mental and physical, and of the two, I believe that mental suffering and happiness are the more acute. Hence, I stress the training of the mind to endure suffering and attain a more lasting state of happiness.“ I humbly submit that you are wrong about mental suffering being more acute than physical suffering…and it is the fear of the physical suffering that allows their minds to be so easily controlled…those whose “suffering” is mental rather than physical NEED TO WAKE UP….they are deluded….UNLESS their mental suffering IS BECAUSE THEY ARE SUFFERING PHYSICALLY…THEN…what they ARE are VICTIMS…and they need to be HEARD and HELPED…in the REAL PHYSICAL WORLD….not the “mind” one that FAR TOO MANY LIVE IN….

    BeLIEf is the LACK of KNOWledge

    those who hold them, rest in them, or cling to them are demonstrating their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual LAZINESS (or stubborn refusal to be open to the truth in the moment…to LEARN we must first acknowledge what we do not know)….it took me nearly 50 years (of being “unconditional love” and the most forgiving/submissive soul alive) to learn that is wrong…love is not unconditional…there is no love where there are lies of any kind…and forgiveness does not exist if it was not wanted/asked for/appreciated..it is a gift between two people who want each other in each others’ lives, equating it with anything less (like simply “letting go and moving on” or WORSE coming to conclude later there was no offense worth anger–which means you were the offender) cheapens it…it is WRONG to “forgive” or continue to allow evil actions against yourself (or other innocents within your reach to defend in them moment)..that is self-abuse…proof you do not respect your own life enough to defend it..and do not deserve it….THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE between KNOWledge and beLIEf….and NO ONE who holds beLIEfs should be respected….the more proud they are of their beliefs, the less you should ever listen to them…they are PROUD OF THEIR INTENTIONAL IGNORANCE if they are proud of any beLIEf..they should be ASHAMED to EVER SAY “i believe”….

    the world would be a HELLUVALOT NICER if everyone would LEARN TO STFU about shit they have NOT personally experienced


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