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Home >> Spiritual Leaders  >> Compassion is the source of happiness: The purpose of life
 
Compassion as the source of happiness

Compassion is the source of happiness: The purpose of life

We are here; we exist and we have the right to exist. Even non-sentient beings like flowers have the right to exist. If negative force is exerted against them, then, on a chemical level, flowers repair themselves to survive. But more than that, we human beings including insects, even amoebas, the smallest beings are considered sentient beings. And as sentient beings, we have even more mechanisms to help us survive.

Things that can move under their own will or desire, that’s what a “sentient being” means, according to the discussions that I’ve had with scientists. “Sentient” doesn’t necessarily mean being conscious or being human on a conscious level. Actually it’s difficult to define what “consciousness” or “conscious” means. Usually it means the clearest aspect of the mind, but then, is it that there is no consciousness when we are semiconscious or unconscious? Do insects have it? Maybe it’s better to speak of “cognitive faculty” rather than consciousness.

In any case, the main point that we are referring to here by cognitive faculty is the ability to experience feelings: pain, pleasure, or neutral feelings. Actually, pleasure and pain, and happiness and unhappiness, are things that we need to examine in more depth. For example, every sentient being has the right to survive and, for survival, this means having a desire for happiness or comfort: that’s why sentient beings strive to survive. Therefore, our survival is based on hope—hope for something good: happiness. Because of that, I always conclude that the purpose of life is happiness. With hope and a happy feeling, our body feels well. Therefore, hope and happiness are positive factors for our health. Health depends on a happy state of mind.

But, as humans, our body also has a positive element on the emotional level that brings us to have attachment to someone or attachment to our own happiness.


Anger, on the other hand, is based on a sense of insecurity and brings us fear. When we encounter something good, we feel safe. When something threatens us, we feel insecure and then we become angry. Anger is a part of the mind that defends itself from what harms our survival. But anger itself makes us feel bad and so, ultimately, it is bad for our health.

Attachment is an element that is helpful for survival. So, even a plant, without any conscious element, still has some chemical aspect that causes it to protect itself and helps its growth. Our body, on a physical level, is the same. But, as humans, our body also has a positive element on the emotional level that brings us to have attachment to someone or attachment to our own happiness. Anger, on other hand, with its element of causing harm, pushes us away from things including happiness. On a physical level, the pleasure that happiness brings is good for the body; while anger and the unhappiness it causes is harmful. Therefore, from the perspective of the pursuit of survival, the purpose of life is to have a happy life.

This is the basic human level that I am speaking about; I am not speaking about the religious, secondary level. On the religious level, of course there are different explanations of the purpose of life. The secondary aspect is actually quite complicated; therefore, it is better to talk just on the basic human level.

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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