“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
What makes this man so interesting? Why do people around the world care about a simple Buddhist monk who heads an unrecognized government-in-exile and an unrecognized nation of 6 million Tibetans? Maybe because he is also a diplomat, a Nobel laureate, an apostle of nonviolence, an advocate of universal responsibility and a living icon of what he calls “our common human religion of kindness.”
As Robert A.F. Thurman wrote: “In this climate of manifold desperation, the Dalai Lama emerges from another civilization, from a higher altitude, as a living example of calm in emergency, patient endurance in agony, humorous intelligence in confusion and dauntless optimism in the face of imminent doom. Through his teachings and writings, he serves and inspires Buddhists worldwide, as well as followers of other faiths.” And here are ten of his timeless lessons:
1. Dalai Lama said: “Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.”
Why he is right: People who consistently perform at a higher level have certain things in common. They are committed to their success, have passion for what they do, have clear goals and are uniformly more comfortable taking risks than most. Their ability to take intelligent risks is an important ingredient in their success and a huge determinant in anybody’s level of achievement. I don’t know what rewards you will enjoy by your willingness to take thoughtful risks, but I know for sure that those rewards will not occur unless you are willing to take those risks. And wouldn’t it be a shame to forgo some wonderful, if unknown, rewards just because you just can’t seem to find your way out of your comfort zone?
2. Dalai Lama said: “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”
Why he is right: Mistakes are part of the human condition. Alexander Pope once said “To make mistakes is human”. Clearly, some things never change. Try as you might, you eventually will mess up. How you respond to your error determines just how smart you are. Look for the silver lining in the cloud, even if it’s just an opportunity to learn how not to make the same mistake again (and again). Even better, think about what you may have done well and build on that element. You will have plenty of chances to learn from your inevitable mistakes.
3. Dalai Lama said: “When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.”
Why he is right: This is counter intuitive to your wishful thinking to wait and see if the mistake somehow corrects itself. It won’t. If you do not act quickly, and put off tending to the problem, it will only make you feel more stressed, and the problem could get bigger with the passing of time.
4. Dalai Lama said: “Spend some time alone every day.”
Why he is right: Give yourself one hour on certain days to do an activity you truly enjoy. Work on a hobby, do some exercise, go for a walk, or read a book. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you enjoy it. These breaks will help you renew your energy and concentration. Or even try doing nothing, try sitting in a quiet room thinking about nothing for at least 20 minutes, twice a day. It sounds simple, even boring, but transcendental meditation isn’t just for mantra-chanting yogis or herbal-tea-drinking hippies. Maxed-out professionals are turning to daily meditation to lower blood pressure, prolong concentration, and crank up creative juices.
5. Dalai Lama said: “Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”
Why he is right: When you engage another person in conversation, always think before talking. I know your mind has many random thoughts, but there is no need to expose them to the world. Look at good politicians, sales people, and diplomats. They are masters at saying enough to stay out of a conflict, but somehow they still manage to get a particular point across. So, before you open your mouth, just turn over your thought and try to inject it with a trace of reason, and if it doesn’t work, just shut up!
6. Dalai Lama said: “Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”
Why he is right: A wise person once said to me that if I wanted to learn something, I should teach it. Stephen Covey, one of my favorite gurus, also suggests that the way to internalize an idea, habit or principle is to share it with someone else. Advice is usually overrated. Before you learn what others know, you need to learn what you know. Find someone whom you can mentor on the subject that you want to master. You will learn quickly and indelibly. There are also an incredible number of opportunities for information sharing over the Internet. What if you don’t feel that you are a writer? Well, we all need to work on our communication skills, so writing on a blog like this will give you the practice you need to learn how and increase your skills. So try it! I’m sure you’ll like it!
7. Dalai Lama said: “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.”
Why he is right: These are the things that make us the people we are, they define what is important to you, they determine how you spend your time. Values determine what you accomplish with your time – the results you get. They are the source of your motivation, so don’t be afraid to communicate them. And never let go of your values.
8. Dalai Lama said: “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
Why he is right: Ever heard the phrase “Be careful what you wish for – you may get it”? You may call it luck, maybe fate or something, but yes, sometimes when you don’t get what you want you are lucky because it turned out that you got something better anyways.
9. Dalai Lama said: “A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.”
Why he is right: When life’s storms set you adrift in an ocean of worries, you know you can always find an anchor in those closest to you, in your family. You feel rejuvenated when you’ve made a connection with someone who knows you well. It’s just that you’re particularly good at drawing energy and inspiration from those around you, from those who really care about you. So next time life makes you feel pulled in too many directions, set aside some time to restore yourself by spending time with your family. We often get so wrapped up in the importance of money or other things in life that we sometimes forget about the most important little things.
10. Dalai Lama said: “Be gentle with the earth.”
Why he is right: Our earth is fragile too, and deserves our gentleness. In this century, man seems to finally realise just how fragile our Mother Earth is – and about time too! Remember the words of Chief Seattle, “This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand on it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.”
The Dalai Lama is the world’s greatest living exemplar of nonviolence and compassion, accessible to followers of all faiths. As one of the greatest people of the 20th century, he offers an inspiring vision of the likelihood that humanity will realize its highest potential in the 21st. Listen to his teachings.