Creating a happier world Dealing with grief

Creating a happier world: Dealing with grief

I think of myself as just another human being and on that basis, I regard the many people I meet as trusted friends.
By

A woman in South Africa asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama how to cultivate friendships with others like his with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“The key factor,” he replied, “is trust and mutual respect. We belong to different traditions, but we are both human beings who practice loving-kindness and forgiveness. The differences between us are secondary. I really love Bishop Tutu. There was an occasion when he’d been singing my praises and he ended by saying with a smile, “Unfortunately this person is not a Christian.” The important thing is that we consider ourselves brothers because we’re both humans.

“I think of myself as just another human being and on that basis, I regard the many people I meet as trusted friends. Emphasising that I’m Buddhist or Tibetan only serves to isolate me from other people. The crucial factor is that I’m just a human being. When I visit different places and meet people with different backgrounds I smile and they respond. This is a deep source of happiness. Warm-heartedness brings me benefit and I try to share that experience with others.

“We Tibetans have suffered in all sorts of ways, but we don’t regard the Chinese fundamentally as enemies because they are human beings just as we are.”

His Holiness was asked what can be done to help healthcare workers who are overstretched and exhausted. He acknowledged that people who dedicate themselves to the service of others can become tired and discouraged. They need to be realistic, he said. To really be of help to others they need to rest in order to be physically and mentally fresh. Looking after themselves contributes to their being able to be of help to those in their care.

A woman who recently lost her father to Covid wanted advice about dealing with grief. His Holiness told her he understood her distress and mentioned the advice of an ancient Indian master who recommended thinking about the suffering you face and examining whether there is anything you can do to overcome it. If there is, that’s what to do. There’s no need to lament. On the other hand, if there’s nothing to be done, being sad won’t help.

“When my mother passed away,” His Holiness recalled, “I was sad, but instead of getting upset, I made prayers for her well-being. It would be good to think about what your father would have wished you to do and do that.”

Finally, with regard to how to lead a happier life, His Holiness reiterated that in the past people had less understanding of the importance of peace of mind or how to achieve it. Now, this knowledge is growing. The key factor for the future generation, those who are children today, to appreciate is the importance of warm-heartedness coupled with an awareness of the oneness of humanity. Narrow-minded thinking only of people like us is out of date. The whole of humanity has to learn to live and act as a single community.

Mark Williamson thanked those who had asked questions as well as thanked His Holiness for answering them.

“This has been an amazing event,” Lord Richard Layard, Professor at the London School of Economics and founder of ‘Action for Happiness’, declared. “You have been our inspiration over the years. Thank you for being with us today. I’d like to thank the Office of Tibet in London for co-ordinating the occasion and members of the audience for being with us.

“We have a new motto—happier, kinder, together. You’ve helped us with that. Thank you.”

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is the spiritual leader of Tibet. Since taking asylum in India in 1959, His Holiness has become a global advocator of peace, compassion and happiness. He is the first Nobel Laureate to be recognised for his concern for global environmental problems.

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