As many of you know, the current Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama. He is the secular and spiritual head of the Tibetan people. When the Dalai Lama was fifteen years of age, the Chinese government invaded Tibet and the young Dalai Lama was smuggled out of the country into India. I have had the privilege of meeting the Dalai Lama and the experience of being in his amazing radiance and energy. Even before I met him, I had read the story of his escape and exile many years before and was fascinated by the Tibetan people, their Tibetan Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama. Some people continue to live in Tibet, many more followed the Dalai Lama into exile. Some live in various countries around the world. Like other marginalized peoples, they have become wanderers on our planet.
It is important for us to recognize that this insightful, compassionate, humorous, and marvelous person rose from Tibetan culture. When he looks into someone’s eyes, he sees their soul. In his own words, he says that any time he meets a stranger, he accepts them as a friend. He says we have all met before and as human beings share the same basic goals. We all seek happiness and do not want suffering.
Peace begins within each of us. We can choose to erupt in anger and violence or, if you have peace of mind, you can find happiness even under the most difficult circumstances. This shows the impact of a good mental attitude.
We are all born helpless. Without a parent’s kindness we could not survive, much less proper. When children grow up in constant fear, with no one to rely on, they suffer their whole lives. Because the minds of small children are very delicate, their need for kindness is particularly obvious.
Adult human beings need kindness too. If someone greets me with a nice smile, and expresses a genuinely friendly attitude, I appreciate it very much. They instantly gladden my heart.
Many of our problems stem from attitudes like putting ourselves first at all costs. I know from my own experience that it is possible to change these attitudes and improve the human mind.
Today, much of the world is now connected by a web of electronic communications. Yesterday, there was terrorism in Canada and here in America we knew immediately. China is trying to intimidate its neighbors and again we know and our government responds. Our twenty-first century technology has made nations and their people heavily dependent upon one another.
So hate, genocide, war and other forms of violence are felt around the world, not just in the country in which they occur. We must stop all wars and nuclear weapons. The Dalai Lama has visited Hiroshima, Japan, where the first atomic bomb was dropped. This must never happen again. He spoke to survivors and their families and his heart was touched. Thousands and thousands of people dead in a matter of moments. War creates much pain and desolation, yet millions of dollars, or whatever currency is in use in other countries, are spent on weapons of mass destruction.
The only way to achieve lasting peace is through mutual trust, respect, love and kindness. Attempts by global powers to dominate one another through competition in armaments—whether nuclear, chemical, biological, or conventional—is counterproductive. External peace is impossible without inner peace.