The Religion of kindness

APOORVA SRINIVAS

 

dalailama

His Holiness The XIVth Dalai Lama delivered a lecture at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore on 15th December 2016.

 

We are often confronted with questions like ‘What will save the world? What is the purpose of life? What is the source of happiness? Which Dharma to follow? What will seal our fate as humanity is outreaching its own limitations in the Twenty-first century?’

The words of the Dalai Lama invoke us into understanding the pursuit of happiness, secular ethics of compassion and forgiveness, and religious harmony for inner and world peace!

Most of us know of The Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader who is the face of the non-violent struggle in Tibet for democracy and sovereignty. It was surprising to also see his humorous side, accompanied by a charming smile and mesmerising humility. According to him, kindness is a religion to be followed as a way of life by one and all. He said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. He spoke of profound values in a simple language and the need for benevolence in our daily lives.  He made it possible for us to be in sync with him throughout and in no time we had become very fond of him.

While narrating the history of Buddhism in Tibet, he acknowledged India for its long history of the religious harmony existing alongside diversity in custom, tradition and language. He reasoned that occasional disturbances are inevitable. Therefore, we must work hard to build unity wherever we go and embody universal human values.

dalai-lama

The Nalanda tradition of Buddha Dharma of India which reached Tibet in the eighth century permits a great deal of investigation and experimentation. It is not followed as a blind faith but rather invites both scholars and followers to ponder over its principles in a scientific manner and either accept or reject them. For this reason, the studies of the monks in the disciplines like psychology, cosmology and physics are welcomed all over the world for its merit in observing rigorous thinking and the art of embodying questioning in their practices. The Buddhist meditation technique of Vipassana, meaning analytical meditation, focuses on inquiry and the need to suppress one’s sense of anger and attachment.

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama proposed that the real purpose of life is happiness and the world is in misery today because we give too much emphasis on narrow-minded, superficial differences. He expressed his concern for the current trend in suicides, saying that the modern education system is missing the values and consciousness which are crucial for learning, rather it has induced more anxiety and stress. We must not lose hope, but have a better understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, which is an effective remedy to the problems.

In the political sphere, Dalai Lama pressed that the protection of Tibet and its Buddhist culture is crucial. In 2011, he voluntarily retired from his political role within Tibet, transforming a tradition of four centuries in favour of a more democratic system. In his interaction with National Law School students, when questioned about the principle of non-interference in the affairs of the country, he said that one must always choose a middle path. This is based on the philosophy that we are all human beings, who cannot be blind to the reality nor can we act beyond reason. It is for the same reason that he supports Marxism, as it is concerned with redistribution of wealth but disapproves what Lenin believed in. He issued a call for the youth of the Twenty-first Century to be united in the face of a global crisis which is confronted with a rapid pace of moral decadence like never before. Rising intolerance, attacks on innocents, the spread of greed, money and weapon need to be combated by a resurgence of kindness and virtue – a philosophy of humanism which shall unite, rather than divide us. He ended the note with a strong message saying that the Twenty-first Century should be a peaceful century where violence should be replaced by discussion and exchange, thus leading to a Century of Dialogue!

(Apoorva is pursuing Master’s Programme in Public Policy at the National Law School of India University. She can be reached at apoorvas@nls.ac.in)

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4 thoughts on “The Religion of kindness”

  1. Kindness as a religion? A religious person under his religion is always resilient to orthodox customs and practices. To understand the essence of religion takes a life time and to serve with kindness takes another. Recalling the magnificent lines told by Mark Twain, “kindness is a language; a deaf can hear and blind can see.”
    Now a days people tend understand the things intellectual and express it more intellectually and the outcomes are again intellectual and more complex. But the great people (like Dalai Lama) expects the world to sound more ethically and morally which are extremes to the former.
    P.S: This is not critics but the way of modern life!

    1. Thank you for the insightful comment. It is indeed “simplicity” that enables one to understand the profound relevance of religion and its essence. There is no denial that over the years, there has been more rigidity and complication in understanding religion. What Dalai Lama speaks of, is the paradigm of “oneness”, “My religion is very simple, it is kindness and compassion”. Hence, the title.

  2. The presence of the current Dalai Lama must have been a special experience to the students of Law School. In these times of great conflicts and war, it is important to assert the language of peace and open dialogues and conversations. Thank you for sharing this experience with the rest of us.

    1. Thank you for the comment Deepa. It was indeed a special occasion for all of us, it is true that Dalai Lama’s message of “compassion” and “open dialogues” present a realistic picture for the world to strive for integration and cooperation.

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