The practice of generosity may seem simple—it is learning how to give—but it is the ground that allows discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom to flourish. It establishes the basic attitude of magnanimity that is the defining characteristic of the path of the bodhisattva.
The word magnanimous, like the Sanskrit termmahatma, means “greatness of soul.” With magnanimity you are not pinched in your outlook or heart, but rather you have a quality of richness and spaciousness. There is room for everyone.
I once visited a temple that claimed to have one thousand Buddha statues. Among all of those buddhas, the one that most invoked the feeling of generosity for me was a statue of a very chubby Buddha embracing piles of children who were tumbling all over him. Laughing with delight, he maintained a sense of peace in the midst of their chaos. Instead of shooing the children away because he had more important things to do, he gathered them in with a big hug. He radiated love and happiness and acceptance.
That kind of effortless bounty is what generosity is all about, but to get there a little effort and reflection may be in order. To cultivate generosity it is necessary to understand the mental obstacles that cause us to hold back.
One obstacle is self-doubt. We may have an impoverished sense of our own capacities and doubt that we have all that much to offer. Another obstacle is stinginess. We may have a lot of resources, but no matter how wealthy we are, deep down we are afraid of letting go of even a small portion.
Generosity is based on interconnection, on looking outside oneself, noticing where there is a need and responding to it. So a third obstacle is self-absorption, being oblivious to what is going on around you. Generosity has the power to cut through such obstacles and it is available to us all.
The sense of richness that allows generosity to flourish isn’t dependent on external factors like wealth or social status. (In fact, studies have shown that the wealthiest Americans’ level of philanthropy is less than half that of the poorest Americans.) No matter how poor or rich we may be, we all have something to offer. And when we let go of our clinging and extend our hand to others, we find that we ourselves are blessed. Our pinched state of mind, which was so alienating and unpleasant, suddenly relaxes and we are brought into a larger and more inspired sense of the world and our own capacities. Instead of feeling that something is being taken away from us, we find that the more we give, the wealthier we feel.
One of the many reasons I am so fond of Dalai Lama and many of the Buddhist teachings is because of the softness of their words and the fact that through the simple words used in their messages, they empower the whole world. Messages of happiness, love, belongingness, spirituality and wholeness not once relating to one`s religious beliefs, race or background.
Today I would like to share with you 23 Life Changing Lessons to Learn from Dalai Lama, this amazing man who does nothing but spread love and kindness all over the world, so that we could all show love to one another and feel safe no matter who we are and where we are from.
1. The world doesn’t belong to leaders. The world belongs to the whole humanity.
“World belongs to humanity, not this leader, that leader or that king or prince or religious leader. World belongs to humanity. “
“I always believe the rule by king or official leader is outdated. Now we must catch up with the modern world.”
“I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
“I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. I’m not talking about the short-term gratification of pleasures like sex, drugs or gambling (though I’m not knocking them), but something that will bring true and lasting happiness. The kind that sticks.”
3. The essence of any religion is good heart.
“We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion…. This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy.”
“Love and Compassion are the true religions to me. But to develop this, we do not need to believe in any religion.”
“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.”
“The essence of any religion is good heart. Sometimes I call love and compassion a universal religion. This is my religion.”
4. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.
“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.”
“We need to learn how to want what we have NOT to have what we want in order to get steady and stable Happiness”
5. Your Home is where you feel at home.
“Home is where you feel at home and are treated well.”
6. In the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity for growth.
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way. “
“Hard times build determination and inner strength. Through them we can also come to appreciate the uselessness of anger. Instead of getting angry nurture a deep caring and respect for troublemakers because by creating such trying circumstances they provide us with invaluable opportunities to practice tolerance and patience.”
7. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
“Given the scale of life in the cosmos, one human life is no more than a tiny blip. Each one of us is a just visitor to this planet, a guest, who will only stay for a limited time. What greater folly could there be than to spend this short time alone, unhappy or in conflict with our companions? Far better, surely, to use our short time here in living a meaningful life, enriched by our sense of connection with others and being of service to them.”
“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”
8. It’s okay if you get angry from time to time.
“As a human being, anger is a part of our mind. Irritation also part of our mind. But you can do – anger come, go. Never keep in your sort of – your inner world, then create a lot of suspicion, a lot of distrust, a lot of negative things, more worry.”
“Generally speaking, if a human being never shows anger, then I think something’s wrong. He’s not right in the brain.”
“I am sometimes sad when I hear the personal stories of Tibetan refugees who have been tortured or beaten. Some irritation, some anger comes. But it never lasts long. I always try to think at a deeper level, to find ways to console.”
9. You must not lose faith in humanity.
“Out of 6 billion humans, the troublemakers are just a handful.”
“Some mischievous people always there. Last several thousand years, always there. In future, also.”
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”
“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.”
11. It’s not just your brain who needs to be developed, your warmheartedness needs that as well.
“I have always had this view about the modern education system: we pay attention to brain development, but the development of warmheartedness we take for granted.”
“If you have only education and knowledge and a lack of the other side, then you may not be a happy person, but a person of mental unrest, of frustration. Not only that, but if you combine these two, your whole life will be a constructive and happy life. And certainly you can make immense benefit for society and the betterment of humanity. That is one of my fundamental beliefs: that a good heart, a warm heart, a compassionate heart, is still teachable.”
“One problem with our current society is that we have an attitude towards education as if it is there to simply make you more clever, make you more ingenious… Even though our society does not emphasize this, the most important use of knowledge and education is to help us understand the importance of engaging in more wholesome actions and bringing about discipline within our minds. The proper utilization of our intelligence and knowledge is to effect changes from within to develop a good heart.”
12. Underneath it all we are all good, but not everyone lives life from that place.
“Of course, when I say that human nature is gentleness, it is not 100 percent so. Every human being has that nature, but there are many people acting against their nature, being false.”
13. The best way to resolve any problem is to sit down and talk.
“Non-violence means dialogue, using our language, the human language. Dialogue means compromise; respecting each other’s rights; in the spirit of reconciliation there is a real solution to conflict and disagreement. There is no hundred percent winner, no hundred percent loser—not that way but half-and-half. That is the practical way, the only way.”
“The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk.”
14. Ignorance is anything but bliss.
“Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.”
“I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.”
“We should reflect on the idea that since the beginning of time sentient beings have been mentally unstable because they have been slaves of delusion, they lack the eye of wisdom to see the path leading to nirvana and enlightenment, and they lack the necessary guidance of a spiritual teacher. Moment by moment they are indulging in negative actions, which will eventually bring about their downfall.”
15. You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things.
“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.”
16. We are all different yet we are all the same.
“Whether one is rich or poor, educated or illiterate, religious or nonbelieving, man or woman, black, white, or brown, we are all the same. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are all equal. We all share basic needs for food, shelter, safety, and love. We all aspire to happiness and we all shun suffering. Each of us has hopes, worries, fears, and dreams. Each of us wants the best for our family and loved ones. We all experience pain when we suffer loss and joy when we achieve what we seek. On this fundamental level, religion, ethnicity, culture, and language make no difference.”
“Every single being, even those who are hostile to us, is just as afraid of suffering as we are, and seeks happiness in the same way we do. Every person has the same right as we do to be happy and not to suffer. So let’s take care of others wholeheartedly, of both our friends and our enemies. This is the basis for true compassion.”
“We discover that all human beings are just like us, so we are able to relate to them more easily. That generates a spirit of friendship in which there is less need to hide what we feel or what we are doing.”
“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”
18. Knowledge never decreases by being shared.
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”
19. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.
“We are but visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”
“The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness”
20. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
“Pain is inevitable,suffering is optional… we have bigger houses,but smaller families. More conveniences,but less time. We have knowledge,but less judgements; more experts,but more problems ; more medicines but less health.”
21. Urge people to investigate things, don’t command them to believe.
“Open-minded people tend to be interested in Buddhism because Buddha urged people to investigate things – he didn’t just command them to believe.”
“I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable to you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is of no use, then you can discard it.”
22. Your task is not to be better than anyone else. Your task is to be better than you used to be.
“The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.”
23. If we do not combine science and these basic human values, then scientific knowledge may sometimes create troubles, even disaster…
“It seems that scientific research reaches deeper and deeper. But it also seems that more and more people, at least scientists, are beginning to realize that the spiritual factor is important. I say ‘spiritual’ without meaning any particular religion or faith, just simple warmhearted compassion, human affection, and gentleness. It is as if such warmhearted people are a bit more humble, a little bit more content. I consider spiritual values primary, and religion secondary. As I see it, the various religions strengthen these basic human qualities. As a practitioner of Buddhism, my practice of compassion and my practice of Buddhism are actually one and the same. But the practice of compassion does not require religious devotion or religious faith; it can be independent from the practice of religion. Therefore, the ultimate source of happiness for human society very much depends on the human spirit, on spiritual values. If we do not combine science and these basic human values, then scientific knowledge may sometimes create troubles, even disaster….”
There are so many other beautiful, simple yet powerful lessons to learn from Dalai Lama but because I don’t want to make longer than it actually is, I’ll stop here. Hope you enjoyed reading this because I surely did enjoy writing it.
What is your favorite quote from Dalai Lama? What is one lesson you have learned from this beautiful and incredible Soul? You can share your comment in the comment section below