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The Dalai Lama on Peace

Aug 03, 1995 02:20 PM
by jrcecon


A friend forwarded this to me, & I thought it might make
interesting reading, and perhaps even a discussion topic, for our
theosophical list.


The following essay was written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
for the forthcoming book: CRITICAL MASS: VOICES FOR A
NUCLEAR-FREE FUTURE to be published jointly by the Open Magazine
Pamphlet Series and the Campaign For Peace and Democracy.

"Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only
home." -The Dalai Lama

Dear Friends,

While putting together our anthology, CRITICAL MASS: VOICES FOR A
NUCLEAR-FREE FUTURE we wrote to the Dalai Lama hoping to add to
the chorus of anti-nuclear essays one voice that discussed world
peace on a personal level. When the Dalai Lama actually wrote
something for us and his essay arrived by fax from his monastery
in Dharamsala, India, we were so inspired by its clear and
heartfelt message that we decided to immediately produce the
essay as a pamphlet, and present it later as the preface of

In June we released to bookstores the small pamphlet Disarmament,
Peace, and Compassion and sent it to our mailing list of
progressives, dissidents, activists, and community organizers.
Like Martin Luther King and Gandhi, the Dalai Lama is a rare
presence; he not only represents peaceful social change, he
embodies it. Now, with the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima
bombing one week away, we'd like to share the Dalai Lama's
message by way of the Net. We hope that it contributes, however
humbly, to the realization of global disarmament and world peace.

Sincerely Yours,
-Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka
Open Magazine Pamphlet Series

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

C 1995, The Office Of His Holiness
The Dalai Lama, Dharamsala

The present Dalai Lama, Jampel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin
Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935. He left Tibet in 1959 due to
Chinese military occupation, and was given sanctuary in India,
where he remains as spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and
formal head of their government-in-exile. Since 1959 he has
campaigned for the peaceful return of Tibet to independence, work
for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

DISARMAMENT, PEACE, and COMPASSION by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

We have recently seen how new found freedoms, widely celebrated
though they are, have given rise to fresh economic difficulties
and unleashed long buried ethnic and religious tensions, that
contain the seeds for a new cycle of conflicts. In the context
of our newly emerging global community, all forms of violence,
especially war, have become totally unacceptable as means of
settling disputes. Therefore, it is appropriate to think and to
discuss ways of averting further havoc and maintaining the
momentum of peaceful and positive change.

Although war has always been part of human history, in ancient
times there were winners and losers. If a nuclear exchange were
to occur now, there would be no winners at all. Realizing this
danger, steps are being taken to eliminate nuclear weapons. This
is a welcome sign. Nonetheless, in a volatile world, the risk
remains as long as even a handful of these weapons continue to

The greatest single danger facing all living beings on this
planet is the threat of nuclear destruction. Besides this, other
problems, whose effects are more gradual, are secondary. At a
time of concern for increasing democratic freedoms and human
rights it is contradictory to continue to pursue policies that
take little account of every living being's right to life. In
the event of nuclear war no one will win, because no one will
survive. The key to changing such policies is to increase
awareness of the issue.

The fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
reminds us of the horrifying nature of nuclear destruction. It
is instant, total and irreversible. Like our neglect and abuse
of the natural environment, it has the potential to affect the
lives, not only of many defenseless people living now in various
parts of the world, but also those of future generations. With
this reality in mind, I have envisioned that the entire Tibetan
plateau should become a free refuge where humanity and nature can
live in peace and in harmonious balance. However, China which
occupies Tibet with the presence of a large military force has
been unwilling to respond constructively. China is reported to
have stationed approximately ninety nuclear warheads and to have
dumped an unknown quantity of radioactive waste in Tibet. This
not only endangers human and animal lives but also adversely
affects the fragile environment of the Tibetan plateau. The key
elements of my proposal for Tibet as a Zone of Peace includes the
demilitarization and prohibition of the manufacture, testing and
stockpiling of nuclear weapons and other armaments on the Tibetan
plateau. When I visited Costa Rica in 1989, I saw how a country
can develop successfully without an army, to become a stable
democracy committed to peace and the protection of the natural
environment. This confirmed my belief that my vision of Tibet in
the future is a realistic plan, not merely a dream.

Faced with the challenge of establishing genuine world peace and
preserving the bountiful earth, what can we do? Beautiful words
are no longer enough. We should instead embark on the difficult
task of building an attitude of love and compassion within
ourselves. Compassion is, by nature, peaceful and gentle, but it
is also very powerful. Some may dismiss it as impractical and
unrealistic, but I believe its practice is the true source of
success. It is a sign of true inner strength. To achieve it we
do not need to become religious, nor do we need any ideology.
All that is necessary is for us to develop our basic human

I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the
moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not
want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor
ideology affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply
desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what
will bring about the greatest degree of happiness. Hence we
should devote our most serious efforts to bring about mental

>From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest
degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love
and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others,
the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close,
warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at
ease and opens our inner door. It helps remove whatever fears or
insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with
any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of
success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it
is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external
development alone. Instead, we should consider our origins and
nature to discover what we require.

At the time of our birth, we have neither religion nor ideology
nor culture. We acquire or learn about these later in our lives.
But I believe that no one is born free from the need for love.
No material object, however beautiful or valuable, can make us
feel loved, because our deeper identity and true character lie in
the subjective nature of the mind. Whether people are beautiful
and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are
human beings. When you recognize that all human beings are equal
and like yourself in both their desire for happiness and their
right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness
for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of
universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for
others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm
commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate
attitude toward others does not change even if they behave

Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only
home. If we are truly to help one another and protect this home
of ours, each of us needs to experience a sense of universal
altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the
self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one
another. If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally
feel confident, and there is no need to be fearful of others.
Our world is growing smaller, politically and economically more
interdependent, and the world's people are becoming increasingly
like one community. Yet, we are also being drawn together by the
very serious problems we face: overpopulation, dwindling natural
resources, and an environmental crisis. In the circumstances we
have an obligation to promote a new vision of society, one in
which war has no place in resolving disputes among states,
communities or religions, but in which nonviolence is the
pre-eminent value in all human relations.

On the human level, nobody actually wants war, because it brings
unspeakable suffering. Everyone wants peace. But we need a
genuine peace. A more genuine peace is founded on mutual trust
and the realization that as brothers and sisters we must all live
together without trying to destroy each other. Even if one
nation or community dislikes another, they have no alternative
but to live together. And under the circumstances it is much
better to live together happily. The necessary foundation for
world peace and the ultimate goal of any new international order
is the elimination of violence at every level. For this reason
the practice of nonviolence surely suits us all. It simply
requires determination, for by its very nature, nonviolent action
requires patience. While the practice of nonviolence is still
something of an experiment on this planet, if it is successful,
it will open the way to a far more peaceful world in the next

War and large military establishments are the greatest sources of
violence in our world. Whether their purpose is defensive or
offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill
human beings. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. Like a
fire in the human community, it consumes living beings and its
very nature is one of tragedy and suffering. Military
establishments are destructive not only in times of war. By
their very design, they are the single greatest violators of
human rights. Once an army has become a powerful force, there is
every risk that it will destroy the happiness of its own country.
As long as there are powerful armies there will always be the
danger of dictatorship.

Throughout history, mankind has pursued peace one way or another.
Witnessing the mass slaughter that has occurred in our century
has given us the stimulus and opportunity to control war. To do
so, it is clear we must disarm. And that can only occur within
the context of new political and economic relationships.

Our ultimate goal should be the demilitarization of the entire
planet. If it were properly planned and people were educated to
understand its advantages, I believe it would be quite possible.
Although we may talk of achieving a global demilitarization, to
begin with some kind of inner disarmament is necessary. The key
to genuine world peace is inner peace and the foundation of that
is a sense of understanding and respect for each other as human
beings, based on compassion and love.

To achieve global demilitarization our first step should be the
total dismantling of all nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons. The second step should be the elimination of all
offensive arms. And the third step should be the abolition of
all national defensive forces. To protect and safeguard humanity
from future aggression we can create an international force to
which all member states would contribute.

Such reforms would result in a stable international environment.
In addition, the immense financial dividend reaped from the
cessation of arms production would provide a tremendous windfall
for global development. Nations today spend trillions of dollars
annually on their military budgets. How many hospital beds,
schools and homes could this money fund?

The awesome proportion of scarce resources squandered on military
development not only prevents the elimination of poverty,
illiteracy and disease, but also requires the sacrifice of our
scientists' precious human intelligence. Why should their
brilliance be wasted in this way when it could be used for
positive global development?

Our planet is blessed with vast natural treasures. If we use
them wisely, beginning with the elimination of militarism and
war, every human being will be able to live a healthy, prosperous
existence. Naturally, global peace cannot occur all at once.
All of us, every member of the world community, has a moral
responsibility to help avert the immense suffering which results
from war and civil strife. We must find a peaceful, nonviolent
way for the forces of freedom, truth and democracy to develop
successfully as peoples emerge from oppression.

Nevertheless, no one can afford to assume that some one else will
solve our problems. Every individual has a responsibility to
help guide our human family in the right direction. Good wishes
are not sufficient; we must assume responsibility. Since periods
of great change such as the present one come so rarely in human
history, it is up to each of us to use our time well to help
create a happier, more peaceful world.

Complete copies of the pamphlet (hard copy)
are available for $3.50 per copy from:

Open Magazine Pamphlet Series
PO Box 2726, Westfield, NJ, 07091.
Phone: (908) 789-9608
Fax: (908) 654-3829
Complete copies of the pamphlet (hard copy)

Open Magazine Pamphlet Series
Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka, Publishers
PO Box 2726
Westfield, NJ 07091

Phone: (908) 789-9608
Fax: (908) 654-3829

This essay will also be published in the forthcoming book:
by the Open Magazine Pamphlet Series and the Campaign for Peace
and Democracy.

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