A Magical Recipe for the Supreme Emotion

Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama

Imagine the most sublime emotion possible.  What would that be?

Here’s the magical recipe.  Take one part each:

*love
*affection
*kindness
*compassion
*gentleness
*generosity of spirit
*warm-heartedness
*sympathy
*endearment

Blend, shake, mix, rock n’roll.

What do you get? 

Nying je.

Nying je?  What’s that?

It’s a Tibetan word usually translated as ‘compassion.’  But, it contains far more meaning, as the Dalai Lama explains:

” [Nying je] has a wealth of meaning that is difficult to convey succinctly, though the ideas it conveys are universally understood.  It connotes love, affection, kindness, gentleness, generosity of spirit, and warm-heartedness.  It is also used as a term of both sympathy and of endearment.  On the other hand, it does not imply “pity” as the word compassion may.  On the contrary nying je denotes a feeling of connection with others, reflecting its origin in empathy.

“…It is both the source and the result of patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and all good qualities.”

My heart lit up when I discovered this amazing word.  It gathers together so many wondrous qualities that we all wish for at our very core.  It also expresses the inescapable sense of interconnection that exists among all that is alive.

Empathy + Reason = Compassion

Nying je – we’ll say compassion for short, arises from empathy.

The Dalai Lama believes that empathy is a universal quality within all of us.  He describes it as  “the inability to bear the sight of another’s suffering.”   It is one of our most important characteristics because it allows us to connect with and enter into another’s pain.

This sense of empathy may be deeply submerged in some individuals, but the basic predisposition is never fully erased.  Our basic nature is to be empathetic and, from this empathy, compassion arises. We all share a capacity for loving-kindness and we all need loving-kindness to thrive.

Although it’s not our fundamental nature, we also have the capacity for negative emotions and actions.  This is why we need to actively cultivate positive qualities – to override our negative emotions and resulting negative actions.  Those pesky difficult emotions which have come habitual.

This is the good news. Compassion belongs to the category of emotions that have a more developed cognitive component as opposed to those that are instinctual. Compassion is a combination of empathy and reason.  Thus it is far different than emotions like anger and lust, which only bring us trouble.

We can use our natural empathy as a starting point and employ reason to grow our love and compassion.  We can win out over negativity through regular practice of all the marvelous qualities that make up compassion.

In fact, the more we give birth to kindness and compassion, the more ethical our behavior becomes.  Not only that, we ourselves experience more happiness and inner peace and less suffering too.

Actively practicing compassion breaks down our habitual preoccupation with self, which typically brings us suffering.  Compassion also brings a sense of inner peace within our own hearts that radiates peace to everyone around us.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The Dalai Lama ask us,

“Could anything be more sublime than that which brings happiness and peace to all?”

Compassion – with its full spectrum of life-enhancing qualities – is the supreme emotion.  It is the most powerful means to bring about inner and outer harmony throughout the world.

An Appeal from the Dalai Lama to You

This is Part 5 of my series A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony based on Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama.  The Dalai Lama concludes with this appeal:

“Therefore, with my two hands jointed, I appeal to you the reader to ensure that you make the rest of your life as meaningful as possible. Do this by engaging in spiritual practice if you can.  As I hope I have made clear, there is nothing mysterious about this.  It consists in nothing more than acting our of concern for others.  And provided you undertake this practice sincerely and with persistence, little by little, step by step you will gradually be able to reorder your habits and attitudes so that you  think less about your own narrow concerns and more of others’.  In doing so you will find that your enjoy peace and happiness yourself.

Compassion is the magic that will bring about your own happiness and the happiness of the world!  Please share the secret.  Please be the secret.

What are your thoughts on the empathy, reason, and compassion?  Do you think compassion is the supreme emotion?

A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony

In this 5-Part Series, we’ve taken a journey through the first five chapters of Ethics for a New Millennium.  Here are the key points that we’ve covered:

  • The vast majority of the problems in the world today are man-made.
  • Only a spiritual revolution can fully change the world. We need to take practical action too, but without a spiritual revolution, there is no hope.
  • By “spiritual revolution” the Dalai Lama means the rekindling of basic human values like kindness, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness among others. These qualities of the human spirit need not be linked to religion. They can be cultivated by one and all.
  • We all wish to be happy and we all wish to avoid suffering.
  • It’s simply the nature of reality that we are all inextricably interconnected. Due to this interconnectedness, helping others ultimately helps you whereas harming others, harms you.
  • True abiding happiness does not come about from possessions or sensory experiences.  In fact, the transitory happiness that comes from possessions or sensory experiences only leads to more suffering.
  • True happiness arises from inner peace.  It is a stable sense of serenity, calm, and contentment that does not depend on external factors or circumstances.
  • We can alter our attitude and our actions to cultivate a greater sense of inner peace.
  • Altruism is an essential component to those actions which lead to genuine happiness.
  • Actions inspired by the wish to help others are the most effective way to bring about lasting happiness.
  • Love and compassion – which also encompasses affection, kindness, compassion, gentleness, generosity of spirit, warm-heartedness, sympathy, and endearment – arises from empathy.
  • Empathy – the inability to bear the sight of another’s suffering – is a universal emotion.
  • Compassion belongs to the category of emotions with a developed cognitive component.  Therefore, we can use reason to grown our compassion.
  • Compassion brings about happiness for all.  For this reason, it is the supreme emotion.

Please consider reading this remarkable book yourself.  These are the topics covered in the remaining two sections of the book.

  • The Ethic of Restraint
  • The Ethic of Virtue
  • The Ethic of Compassion
  • Ethics and Suffering
  • The Need for Discernment
  • Universal Responsibility
  • Levels of Commitment
  • Ethics in Society
  • Peace and Disarmament
  • The Role of Religion in Modern Society
  • An Appeal

Thank you for reading and being a part of this wonderful journey into the heart of compassion.  If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will enjoy the other articles in this series – A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony – based on Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama.

Image of the Dalai Lama from his Facebook Page.

Please let your friends know about this article by using the share buttons below.  Every share helps me reach out to others.  Thanks so much for your support!  Sandra

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Happiness Is An Inside Job

Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama

Are you happy?

What makes you happy?  Does your happiness depend on external factors?

What would happen to your happiness if circumstances changed?

Truth be told, most of us spend our lives chasing after transitory moments of happiness, without ever recognizing the possibility for genuine, lasting happiness.  Did you know there’s a difference between transitory happiness and genuine happiness?

This is Part 4 of my series on Inner and Outer Harmony is based on advice from the Dalai Lama.

In Part 1 the Dalai Lama reviewed the man-made challenges we face today and concluded that only a spiritual revolution can fully change the world. We need to take practical action too, but without a spiritual revolution, there is no hope.

In Part 2, he clarified precisely what he means by a “spiritual revolution” – the rekindling of basic human values like kindness, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness among others. These qualities of the human spirit need not be linked to religion. They can be cultivated by one and all.

In Part 3, we explored the Dalai Lama’s view of the nature of reality, which illustrates how we are all inextricably connected for better or for worse, the choice is ours.  Due to this interconnectedness, helping others ultimately helps you whereas harming others, harms you.

Happiness:  The Fundamental Facts

There are some fundamental truths about happiness, which you can easily confirm by taking a solid look at your own experience of life.  Here they are:

1. We all wish to be happy and we all wish to avoid suffering.

2. While material possessions and enjoyable sensory experiences can bring about happiness it is only a fleeting, temporary state of mind.  The new car breaks down, the bathwater gets cold, our stomach aches after a rich meal.  Whatever causes our happiness in the first place eventually changes and thus our happiness also dissolves. Possessions and experiences actually contain the “seed of suffering.”

3. The transitory nature of this type of happiness – the kind that depends on external factors – only leads us to crave more and more.  This put us into an endless cycle of seeking the next object or experience that will bring gratification.  As one astute Indian writer once said, “Indulging our senses and drinking salt water are alike: the more we partake, the more our desire and thirst grow.”

4. If we take this perspective on the transitory nature of happiness to heart, we realize it’s a mistake to place too much emphasis on material development and material possessions.  True and lasting happiness can never come from gratifying the senses alone.

5. Human beings have the capacity to experience a deeper happiness than that which is evoked by a material or sensory pleasure.  A deeper level of happiness can even override unhappiness or pain. For example, a person who donates a kidney so that another can live will surely go through suffering, but this sense of suffering will be secondary to the sense of fulfillment derived from saving a person’s life.

In short, transitory happiness almost always results in suffering.  It is fundamentally flawed because you can never get enough.

Now please don’t take the Dalai Lama’s word for it. He always encourages you to think through the logic for yourself and arrive at a deeper experience of the conclusion.  Take a good look at your own life experience.  Are these facts about regular happiness true for you?

What is genuine, lasting happiness?

The Dalai Lama clearly distinguishes between transitory happiness and what he calls lasting or genuine happiness.

So what is genuine or lasting happiness, you might ask?  The Dalai Lama explains his own experience of genuine happiness like this,

“…so far as basic serenity is concerned, on most days I am calm and contented.  Even when difficulties arise, as they must, I am usually not much bothered by them.  I have no hesitation in saying that I am happy.”

The Dalai Lama says that in his own experience, the principal characteristic of genuine happiness is inner peace.  This is how we can explain the fact that some people who are abundantly endowed on the material plane feel constantly plagued by a sense of discontentment.  On the other hand, we find individuals in the most dire of circumstances who are able to remain happy nevertheless.

“If we can develop this quality of inner peace, no matter what difficulties we meet with in life, our basic sense of well-being will not be undermined.”

You might argue that good health, friends, freedom, and prosperity all contribute to our fundamental sense of well-being.  This is true and shouldn’t be discounted.  But they aren’t unchanging or reliable.  We can see for ourselves, these factors are all transitory and often become the cause of suffering in themselves.  These factors cannot bring about lasting happiness on their own, which is independent of external circumstances.

True happiness then arises from inner peace.  It is a stable sense of serenity, calm, and contentment that does not depend on external factors or circumstances.

How Do We Achieve Genuine Happiness?

If genuine happiness arises from a sense of inner peace, as the Dalai Lama proposes, then – like any other task in life – we need to identify its causes and conditions and set about cultivating them.  He defines two conditions which contribute to inner peace:  our attitude and our actions.

To achieve happiness, we need to cultivate the attitudes and actions that are conducive to inner peace and to avoid attitudes and actions that might obstruct it.  Attitudes and actions are two elements of life that are fully within the realm of your control.  Granted, it may take time, dedication, and practice to change the habits of your mind but it’s eminently doable.

As unbelievable as it may seem, even the Dalai Lama was, in his earlier years, somewhat hot-tempered, impatient, and even prone to anger.  Now he’s calm and serene. What changed?  His attitude.  He diligently trained in cultivating love and kindness, while simultaneously practiced dissolving anger whenever it arose.

You too can find inner peace and happiness because it is possible to change the habits of your mind and adopt new attitudes.

The Dalai Lama has observed that the actions that bring about lasting peace are generally those that involve doing something worthwhile and beneficial for others – ones that bring about happiness for both ourselves and others.  He believes that “altruism is an essential component to those actions which lead to genuine happiness.”

The Dalai Lama differentiates an ethical act and a spiritual act. He says,

“An ethical act is one where we refrain from causing harm to other’s experience or expectation of happiness. Spiritual acts we can describe in terms of those qualities mentioned earlier of love, compassion, patience, forgiveness humility, tolerance, and so on which presume some level of concern for other’s well-being.  We find that the spiritual actions we undertake which are motivated not by narrow self-interest but out of our concern for others actually benefit ourselves.  And not only that, they make our lives meaningful.”

Actions inspired by the wish to help others are the most effective way to bring about lasting happiness. These positive actions also lessen our own experience of suffering.  Why is that?  When we are in the midst of helping someone else,  we are less focused on our own worries and problems and thus suffer less.

The Dalai Lama concludes,

“…because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on other’s happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. …genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on.  It is these which provide happiness for both ourselves and others.”

This doesn’t mean being a martyr or perpetual giver. It simply means having a good heart and consistently extending yourself on the behalf of others.  It means dedicating yourself to cultivating positive qualities like being more loving, tolerant, forgiving and to decreasing negative emotions like anger and ill will.  As explained in Part 3, it makes sense to help others even from a selfish perspective because – in the end – helping helps you whereas harming harms you.

The Dalai Lama is asking us to take quite a leap here. Frankly, most of our lives revolve around the notion of acquiring moments of transitory happiness via possessions and experiences.  There’s even a whole slew of personal development bloggers that will tell you that you can live whatever life you want and be rich too.  On the other hand, pioneers in the minimalist movement will tell you that less is more.  They say that overindulgence in material possessions brings more headaches and heartaches than happiness.

What do you think?  What is genuine happiness in your view?  Do you think altruism is an essential component for lasting happiness?

This series – A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony is based on Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama.

Image of the Dalai Lama from his Facebook Page.

Please let your friends know about this article by using the share buttons below.  Every share helps me reach out to others.  Thanks so much for your support!  Sandra

The Heart of Reality

Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama

Are you ready for a mind-bending exercise in perception?

Turn your brain onto high for the next few moments as we explore the nature of reality.

This is why: according to the Dalai Lama, the way we perceive the world has a tremendous impact on our behavior. If we misperceive the nature of reality, we are more prone to act in ways that will harm ourselves and others.

In Part 1 of this series A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony, the Dalai Lama reviewed the man-made challenges we face today and concluded that only a spiritual revolution can fully change the world. We need to take practical action too, but without a spiritual revolution, there is no hope.

In Part 2, the Dalai Lama clarified precisely what he means by a “spiritual revolution” – the rekindling of basic human values like kindness, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness among others. These qualities of the human spirit need not be linked to religion. They can be cultivated by one and all.

In today’s post, we will explore the Dalai Lama’s view of the nature of reality to illustrate how we are all inextricably linked for better or for worse.  Therefore, your interest and my interest are intimately connected.  Understanding this is the secret to finding our own happiness and changing the world for the better.

Why We Misperceive the World

Hang on tight. We are going to dive into the realm of philosophy and and touch on physics to understand why interrelatedness is a natural law of the universe.

The Dalai Lama’s view of reality is based on the idea of dependent origination found in Buddhist philosophy, but also supported, at least to some degree, by quantum and probability theory. In short, the origin of phenomena is dependent on causes and conditions. Nothing exists independently in its own right.

The Dalai Lama says that we misperceive the world because our tendency is to narrow in on specific parts of an event or experience. We then take that narrow view to be all of reality. Reality however is infinitely complex and vast.

The philosophy of dependent origination helps us to understand this complexity. It explains that phenomena – material things as well as the movements of mind – come about in three ways.

1. Due to the principle of cause and effect – phenomena arise due to interrelated causes and conditions. Nothing can come into existence or remain in existence on its own. Its origin is dependent on causes and conditions.

The Dalai Lama uses the example of a pot which comes about due to many factors, including the work of the potter, the clay, the water – among other factors. There are also the molecules, atoms, and other tiny particles that make up the pot. The pot does not magically come into existence independently, on its own.

2. There is a mutual dependence that exists between parts and a whole; parts and wholes cannot exist without each other. Parts are their own whole that consists of parts.

3. All phenomena lack independent identity. There is no single characteristic which can be said to identify the pot or any other thing. The clay alone is not the pot. The water alone is not the pot and so on. When you really look, you will never be able to actually find this thing called “pot.” The word “pot” is simply a verbal designation.

The Dalai Lama applies the same principle to consciousness. You can’t pinpoint consciousness. It is not an independently existing entity. “…consciousness is more like a construct which arises out of a spectrum of complex events.”

Time is another good example of a label that is merely a convention. You can’t pinpoint the present moment. As soon as we speak the word, the present moment is gone.

Changing our Whole Perspective

Understanding this view of reality has the power to change our whole perspective. The Dalai Lama explains,

“…when we come to see that everything we perceive and experience arises as a result of an indefinite series of interrelated causes and conditions, our whole perspective changes. We begin to see that the universe we inhabit can be understood in terms of a living organism where each cell works in balanced cooperation with every other cell to sustain the whole. If then, just one of these cells is harmed, as when disease strikes, that balance is harmed and there is danger to the whole. This in turn, suggests that our individual well-being is intimately connected both with that of all others and with the environment within which we live. It also becomes apparent that our every action, our every deed, word, and thought, no matter how slight or inconsequential it may seem, has an implication not only for ourselves but for others, too.”

In short, if I harm you, it harms me.

Understanding dependent origination helps us to diminish our tendency to see what occurs both around us and in our mind as “solid, independent, discrete entities.” It is this tendency that causes us to exaggerate one or two aspects of an experience, see them as the whole experience, and neglect the full complexities.

For example, if we perceive someone as harming us, we may focus intently on our perception of harm and feel the urge to harm back. But if we understand this view of reality, we understand that harming in return only perpetuates further harm and is not in one’s best interest.  We also understand that the “harm” in question came about due to several different causes and conditions and not one factor or individual alone.

This view of reality challenges us to stop seeing events and experiences as black and white. Instead it shows us how to see them as a “complex interlinking of relationships.”

Extending Our View of Self

InterconnectednessIf phenomena cannot exist independently, even the “self” cannot be said to exist in the way we normally believe it does. If we investigate and try to find the “self” through self-analysis, we will only find there is no “real” self to be found.

The “self” – the one that we cherish and protect so strongly – is simply another construct or label that we apply to a collection of parts. The habitual distinction we make between “self” and “others” is to some extent an exaggeration.

This doesn’t mean we don’t exist. We exist, but not in the way that we think we do – not as an independently existing self. The idea and label of “self” is a handy convention for relating in the world, but it is not an accurate picture of reality.

“When we say that things and events can only be established in terms of their dependently originating nature, that they are without intrinsic reality, existence, or identity, we are not denying the existence of phenomena altogether. The “identylessness” of phenomena points rather to the way in which things exist: not independently but in a sense interdependently.”

The distinction we make between self and others is primarily due to conditioning. We could just as easily extend the concept of our “self” to include others. You are part of me and I am part of you. Just as we extend our identity when we consider we are part of a family or a part of a particular heritage like being American, Canadian, or French.

“If the self had intrinsic identity, it would be possible to speak in terms of self-interest in isolation from that of others’. But this is not so, because self and others can only really be understood in terms of relationship, we see that self-interest and others’ interest are closely interrelated. Indeed, within this picture of dependently originated reality, we see that there is no self-interest completely unrelated to others’ interests. Due to the fundamental interconnectedness which lies at the heart of reality, your interest is also my interest. From this, it becomes clear that “my” interest and “your” interest are intimately connected. In a deep sense, they converge.”

The idea of dependent origination encourages us to take the reality of cause and effect with utmost seriousness. Certain actions lead to suffering while others lead to happiness. It’s in everyone’s interest to do what leads to happiness and avoid that which leads to suffering. In other words, it is plain stupid to harm.  This is the logic, ethics, and spiritual wisdom we need to embrace ourselves and impart to new generations if we wish to see a change in the world.

This operation of this principle can clearly be seen in the Western overindulgence in consumption.  Our narrow focus upon our own perceived “needs” and wish for elusive satisfaction are like a boomerang returning with a plague of chronic illness, cancer, and heart disease and a proliferation of childhood disorders.

Our interests are inextricably linked. Interconnectedness is the heart of reality.  It is a natural law of the universe.  This is the basis for the Dalai Lama’s call for a spiritual revolution and a return to heart-felt ethics in order to make the world a better place.

This series – A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony - is based on Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama.

Image of the Dalai Lama from his Facebook Page.

Please let your friends know about this article by using the share buttons below.  Every share helps me reach out to others.  Thanks so much for your support!  Sandra

The Revolution Begins Within

Dalai LamaWith the exception of natural disasters, whatever global problems we face – the environmental crisis, war, poverty, child slavery, drug abuse, drug trafficking, and so on – are all man-made problems.

Therefore, they can be overcome.

The same applies to the feelings of unhappiness, anxiety, discontent, frustration, uncertainty, and depression that plague the modern world despite all our material wealth and conveniences.

None of this is permanent or unsolvable.

In the first article of this series on Inner and Outer Harmony, the Dalai Lama concludes – based on the pervasive discontent he has observed in developed countries – that material wealth does not bring happiness.  He says that science, technology, and knowledge on their own – although important -  also have not and cannot solve the world’s problems.

He points out how the very structure of modern life is now geared toward creating a greater illusion of autonomy and independence.  This has lead to an increase in loneliness and alienation and a diminishing ability to express basic human affection – causing further problems and adding to our challenges.

When we look carefully at all these external problems, he argues, we see they are all fundamentally ethical problems. He says,

“They each reflect our understanding of what is right and wrong, of what is positive and what is negative, of what is appropriate and inappropriate.  But beyond this we can point to something more fundamental:  a neglect of what I call our inner dimension.”

“A revolution is called for, certainly,  But not a political, an economic, or even a technical revolution.   We have had enough experience of these during the past century to know that a purely external approach will not suffice.  What I propose is a spiritual revolution.”

What is a spiritual revolution?

A spiritual revolution is not a religious revolution. The Dalai Lama clearly distinguishes between religion and spirituality.  He defines spirituality in this way,

“Spirituality, I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit – such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and other.  These inner qualities need not be connected to religion.”

While religion might encompass spirituality, religion is not required for the cultivation of a kind heart.

All the positive qualities of the human spirit can be nourished with practice and become a springboard for consistently acting out of concern for the welfare of others.  This is how the Dalai Lama defines spiritual practice and it is not necessarily connected with religion.  He says we might be able to do without religion, but we cannot survive without these basic spiritual qualities.

A Concern for Others

The single characteristic common to all these positive qualities of the human spirit is a concern for the well-being of others.

As much as you wish to be happy yourself, you also wish for others to be happy.  As much as you would like to avoid suffering, you also do not want others to suffer.

With this underlying motivation, you are cognizant of the potential impact of your behavior on others and adjust your actions accordingly.  As much as possible, you try to help and you try to avoid harming.

Just like you naturally feel love for your own child, you can grow love and compassion for all beings with practice.

In order to change the world for the better, the Dalai Lama proposes a reawakening of these basic human values like compassion, patience, forgiveness, and the others mentioned above along with,

“…a radical reorientation away form our habitual preoccupation with self.  It is a call to turn toward the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own.”

That’s right – we need to give up our self-centeredness if we want to see a better world. Paradoxically, reducing our self-absorption and over-focus on our own “needs” brings greater happiness.  Remember, all those shiny, bright new things are not bringing us a meaningful sense of contentment or lasting happiness.

Being “good” actually pays off. When we look closely at the impact of our actions, we will see time and again that helping others, helps you. Whereas harming others, harms you. This is the logical behind the Dalai Lama’s advice to bewisely selfish.” Ultimately, helping is in one’s own self-interest as is avoiding harmful actions.  Thus the age-old adage, “What comes around, goes around.”

Heartfelt Ethics

The sense of ethics the Dalai Lama proposes is not a prescriptive one, but a natural expression of a heart-felt concern for others.

By definition love, compassion, and other basic spiritual qualities that presume some level of concern for others also presuppose ethical restraint.  Ethical conduct is not something we engage in only because it is prescribed or coerced, but because of the heart-felt concern we feel for others.  This is how spirituality and ethics are interconnected even when religion is not in play.

There is no formulaic approach to ethics that can provide an answer for every possible ethical dilemma.

Instead, the Dalai Lama proposes that we take as a starting point the observation that we all wish to be happy and that we all wish to avoid suffering.  He suggests that one determinant of whether an act is ethical is its effect on another person’s experience or expectation of happiness.  An act which diminishes  happiness is potentially an unethical one.

Ultimately, it is our motivation or intention that drives and inspires our action. Therefore, it is our motivation – the overall state of one’s heart and mind – when we act that is key to determining the ethics of an action.

The aim of spiritual and, therefore, ethical practice is thus to transform and perfect one’s motivation.  When our motivation is positive, wholesome action follows.  Perfecting our motivation is how we become better human beings.  It is key to living consciously.

Perfecting Our Motivation

Following are some simple ways that you can establish a positive motivation everyday.

1. Take time to establish your motivation each day – the wish to help and the desire not to harm.  For example, every morning make a conscious heart-felt aspiration to help and not to harm in all that you do that day.

2. Check you motivation and your actions throughout the day.

Make conscious choices.  Consider how each of your actions will affect others – not just those close to you but your community and the whole world around you. For example, when it comes to buying a new product, consider its impact on the environment. Mindful consumption is an expression of  a good heart.

Re-establish your positive motivation if you feel it waning at any point during the day.

3. Use challenging encounters and situations to cultivate positive qualities like love, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness, and to diminish harmful qualities like anger, hatred, greed, attachment, and so on.

4. Gently encourage positive qualities in others without succumbing to judgment.

5. Briefly examine your actions at the end of each day.  Celebrate the positive ones.  Acknowledge the harmful ones. Learn from them.  Consider how you might have handled a situation differently.  But don’t be harsh with yourself!  Re-commit to positive motivation and to expressing it through positive actions.

The more you transform your heart and mind through this simple approach the happier you will become.  Your actions will naturally become positive and you will be contributing to creating a better world for everyone else at the same time.

Practical Solutions Are Also Necessary

The Dalai Lama is not suggesting that cultivating positive spiritual values alone will make all the problems in the world automatically disappear.  Each challenge needs its own practical solution as well.  For example, climate change isn’t going to reverse itself simply because we are nice to each other.  We need to change our consumption habits too.  However, having a deep concern for the well-being of others is the motivation that can wake us up and spur us to do so.

A spiritual revolution can’t solve all our problems on its own, but without such a revolution of the spirit, there is no hope of achieving a lasting solution to our problems at all.

The revolution is now.  It begins within.  It starts with you.

Do you feel an inner revolution is crucial to changing the world?

This series A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony is based on Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama

Image of the Dalai Lama from his Facebook Page.

If you liked this article, please share it with others via your social media networks.  Thanks!  Sandra

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