The Dalai Lama, Happiness, and Fart Jokes
The Dalai Lama is not only a leading religious figure in the world, he is a leading world humanitarian. His mission to spread the practices of compassion and unity have made him a savior in the eyes of many. For his followers he is the literal reincarnation of the Buddha.
His ideas about creating a happy life have primarily to do with the value of developing warm heartedness through a compassionate mind. The Dalai Lama promotes that we are social creatures—that our contentedness depends on the ability to support and love others. He states that many people are “I” centered—that they live life mostly out of an attitude of, “What’s in it for me?” (or my immediate family – “We four and no more.”) This attitude naturally generates a feeling of distrust, competition, and suspicion in relationship to all others. Because they are then cut off from deep connection with others, they generate loneliness and depression in their lives. Materialism becomes a way to medicate this pain. Media figures are celebrated, money becomes the end goal of life, and sense pleasures such as entertainment, food, travel, drugs, etc., become the predominant activity of life.
In the meantime, because there is not a lack of resources but a lack of compassion for others, society suffers rampant poverty, depression, isolation, and crime.
Friendship is also a necessity for happiness in his philosophy. If we are habitually entering life from an “I” centered perspective, the habits of distrust, competition, and suspicion also keep us from forming deeply intimate friendships. We may say we “have friends” but still experience an emptiness and loneliness that has to do with the limited nature of those friendships. Even within these friendships our hearts and minds can be somewhat closed.
Another big key to happiness according the Dalai Lama is recognizing that we are all the same. We give up the idea that some people are innately better, more worthy, or more special than others. In the need to be seen as special our seeds to unhappiness are sewn. This need for specialness operates as another way to feel good but leaves us in isolation—disconnected from others in being “special” and as a result disconnected from our own inner well-being.
The important concept is not the intellectual agreement of such basic humanitarian ideas as compassion or love, but the actual practicing of them in our thinking and behaviors. Many people can espouse the ideas of compassion and love while investing in businesses that enslave others, be competitive or cruel in their dealings with people, support legislation that increases prejudice, support unethical wars, and ignore the poverty surrounding them. Is this compassion? Is this love?
Lastly the Dalai Lama promotes that we pay attention to the progress that is being made. We don’t want to ignore the upsurges in organic farming, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the progress in sustainable energy, the millions working in social services, the progress in equal rights for women, African Americans, and the LGBT community, the spread of meditation, yoga, and other methods of expanding consciousness. In the gratitude of what is working we also generate our happiness and our ability to contribute to others.
Below the Dalai Lama talks about happiness, specialness, and farts: