We have been exploring some of the suggestions made by his holiness this term as detailed below; I will update this week by week.
Week 1 Ethics for a New Millennium published in 1999. By his Holiness the Dalai Lama (HH). He meets many people from all walks of life and is constantly reminded of our basic sameness as human beings.
We all desire to avoid suffering and be happy.
People from the developed world are often less happy than those in Underdeveloped countries – how is this so?
Urbanisation – People live closer together but know each other less.
We do not depend on each other and have lost that connection
We use machines and services not people
Out lifestyle is cosmopolitan, moving around
In other countries people may have to depend on each other whether they like each other or not. But lacking connection we tend to thin other people are not important so we tend to be less caring, less attached. HH is not however advocating a return to what may seem an idealistic past.
We have less affection and tend to be have more loneliness and alienation.
Week 2 In the West we tend to be taken up with the contemporary rhetoric of growth and development:
– This reinforces the tendency towards competitiveness and egotism.
– Keeping up appearances. The Joneses syndrome
– Undermines the traditional belief systems
– Technology and increased knowledge, does this make us better people? Astronauts who have circled the globe have often found this experience life changing.
– Religious influence – where do we get our ethics from if not here?
Idealised old traditional communities, helping each other out is often from necessity rather than choice or community.
The trick is to find a means to:
“to enjoy the same degree of harmony and tranquillity of more traditional communities whilst participating fully in the realities of the world.”
Abandoning material progress is short- sighted.
Week 3 HH calls for a spiritual revolution. At the start of the new millennium there were some 6bn beings on the planet, he doubts whether 1bn are dedicated to a religion. Dedicated meaning people who actively try on a daily basis to follow the precepts of their faith. He can see that no single religion satisfies all humanity. With only 1 in 6 professing a faith and much less than this practising it, there are a lot of people out there to reach.
He states he is Tibetan before he is Dalai Lama and a human being before he is Tibetan.
Religion has been guilty of beleiving their one is the only one and everyone should convert to it; this has caused much grief. The religion is not important the most important factor is to be “A Good Human Being”
Week 4 The state of happiness – what is this? What contributes to it? It will be different for all of us, but the key thing is it should be real not transient. A new kitchen every 3 years, is it necessary does it give real joy? A young child smiling, playing radiating that universal energy for me that gives real joy; or the weather in a wild landscape.
I am trying to improve my archery skills, all I need to do is get the arrow in the gold every time – sounds simple try it. First you need to get a group then you can adjust the sight and get golds – but the human factor intercedes. I am beginning to realise it is more akin to meditation, you have a ritual that you follow and lose yourself in it to exclusion of everything else. I seen films where the Samurau Archery shoots at the target blindfolded and still hits the gold – I can now see this is not a trick, but a master skill, Zen. If you want more look up the Art of Archery – fascinating little book.
Abstracts from Ancient Wisdom, Modern World – Dalai Lama ISBN: 0-316-91428-2