San Jose, CA, USA, 24 February 2014 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama spent today at Santa Clara University (SCU), a Jesuit university committed to a more humane, just and sustainable world located in that epicentre of innovation, Silicon Valley.
His Holiness was the guest of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics of SCU and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education of Stanford University. After chanting by Gyuto Monks, Rev. Engh opened the dialogue on Business, Ethics and Compassion in the Leavey Center and Dr Doty introduced His Holiness, mentioning that many people might not appreciate his involvement in research at the forefront of neuroscience, and Lloyd Dean, CEO of Dignity Health.
"Brothers and sisters, I am very happy to be here," was His Holiness's opening remark. "What I always talk about is how to be happy, as an individual, in families, communities and humanity at large. Among the 7 billion people alive today, everyone has the right to be happy. However, we tend to focus on material comfort while neglecting our inner values.
"I'd like to thank these beautiful young children for their singing. They reminded me of my own childhood. I was born into an ordinary farming family. We were not that well-off, our real wealth was in my mother's affection for us. Because of that our home was full of joy. When I was still the youngest she naturally took more care of me. I rode on her shoulders as she went about her work. My brothers and sisters and I never saw her pull an angry face. Now I feel this was the real blessing I grew up under. Later, I was able to train in the cultivation of compassion using my intelligence, but the seed was planted by my mother."
His Holiness stressed that the value of affection is huge, asking why human beings neglect such inner values, focusing instead on increased intelligence, a self-centred attitude and a materialistic way of life? Is there anything to be done? he asked and suggested that human nature is actually more generous. He said we are social animals with a natural tendency to come together. Individual survival depends on cooperation, if we are filled with hatred and distrust, that cannot be achieved. We have the seed of compassion within us and when we are young it is fresh and ripe for cultivation.
Too often in the economic field we see corruption, the gap between rich and poor, and a lack of affection and respect for the lives of others. Warm-heartedness is therefore very important. We need to include training in compassion and warm-heartedness in education from kindergarten up to university. It's something important for everyone.
Medical researchers have found that a more compassionate attitude brings about a calm mind, which leads to self-confidence and inner strength, which in turn support better health. With inner strength compassion increases and anxiety, tension and stress are reduced. Anxiety and anger destroy our health and disrupt our families, so compassion has a deep positive influence on whatever we do.
"Modern medical care is run like a business, but even business needs a sense of ethics. Since we have a body and mind, we need that mental peace and physical comfort to which compassion gives rise. We need to educate people to increase their concern for others' well-being. Naturally we are concerned for ourselves, we have our own self-interest at heart, but we need to fulfil it wisely by developing concern for others rather than being merely foolishly selfish. Thank you"
After lunch a discussion took place about 'Incorporating Ethics and Compassion into Business Life'. Various panellists discussed a) the hiring of the best qualified people b) recognise and support employees rights to a personal life and c) work to ensure the allegiance of customers, employees and share-holders. His Holiness remarked that he was impressed by the consideration inherent in these principles. Another panellist who started her own company said that she placed trust in her employees which earned loyalty and allegiance, and another mentioned that in her research she had discovered it was more difficult for people to discern the need for compassion in organisations than we think.
His Holiness distinguished two kinds of compassion, the kind of instinctive concern for others that we feel about our friends and relatives and a more embracing compassion that is a result of analytical thought. Then, on top of a sense of concern for others, there is the wish to take responsibility for doing something about it. Questioned about competition, he said there are two kinds, competition that is focused on success and reaching the top and competition that seeks to bring others down.
Asked how people can find room in their lives for spiritual practice, His Holiness remarked that one of the characteristics of the future is that it is open. Concerning the role of women, His Holiness explained that early human society had little need for leaders. After the establishment of agriculture and a sense of property a need for leaders emerged, the criterion for which was physical prowess. This favoured men. Education has since eliminated the predominance of physical strength. Now, when the need is to promote compassion, there is a need for women's leadership, because it's a field in which they are more skilled. His Holiness remarked that if there were more women leaders, violent conflict would likely be less.