Dharamshala, India— "Warm-heartedness is the key factor in creating a joyful community and a happier world. It leads to a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood," said His Holiness the Dalai Lama during an online conversation on "Creating a Happier World" on 28 July 2021.
Lord Richard Layard, Professor at the London School of Economics and founder of Action for Happiness, welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama Wednesday morning for a talk on "creating a happier world". He informed him that today marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of Action for Happiness, an organisation His Holiness had joined even before it was founded. He reminded His Holiness that they had been discussing secular ethics on a panel in Zurich when he explained his plans for Action for Happiness and His Holiness told him: "I want to join".
Later, he said, in the Lyceum Theatre in London, His Holiness launched Action for Happiness’s course, ‘Exploring What Matters’. Trials have been held to assess what difference attending the course had made for participants, and positive results, an increase in basic happiness, have been significant. “I remember that as that event in London came to an end, a BBC correspondent backstage asked you what single thing would make people happier and you immediately replied, ‘Warm-heartedness’. It brought tears to my eyes.”
According to the official website of His Holiness, Layard opened the conversation by asking His Holiness how we can make our hearts warmer.
“We are well-equipped from birth to be warm-hearted and to take care of others,” he replied. “Our very survival depends on other members of our community. From the moment we are born we depend on our mother’s affection. Becoming familiar with being taken care of when we are young prepares us to look after others when are able to. Being warm-hearted and taking care of each other is a natural thing to do.
“The problem is that our existing education system is oriented towards materialistic goals, but doesn’t take account of our need to maintain a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. However, school-children recognise that they enjoy classes taught by teachers who smile happily more than those taught by teachers whose expression is stern and grim. Even animals respond if we are warm-hearted towards them. Dogs wag their tails and I’ve seen birds eat out of the hands of people who are warm and peaceful towards them.
“Warm-heartedness is the key factor in creating a joyful community and a happier world. It leads to a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. I’m determined to contribute to creating a community with a sense of the oneness of humanity, a community in which faith or colour are secondary to the fact that we are all the same as human beings.”
Layard remarked that some people seem to be cold-hearted as a result of experiences they’ve had. He asked His Holiness how he had retained his inner radiance and loving smile in the face of many difficulties.
“The whole of Tibetan culture is focussed on not doing harm,” he told him, “even towards insects. If a child catches a flying insect, someone else in the family will say, “Don’t kill it”. We are Buddhists, but we share with other religious people the idea of kindness to other creatures.
“My mother was very kind. I learned about compassion from her. I was chosen as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and taken to Lhasa where what I learned about compassion and Buddhist philosophy I found to be very useful.
“Later I came as a refugee to India, a free and democratic country where members of all the world’s great religions lived together in peace and harmony. I’m a guest of the Government of India, and as a result I’m safe and happy. And I consider it to be my responsibility to share what I’ve learned about inner peace with others.
“In recent decades, I’ve engaged in discussions with scientists who have come to appreciate the importance of finding peace of mind. They recognise, for example, the contribution peace of mind has to make to better physical health and well-being.
“I’ve met many different kinds of people, but meeting them doesn’t make me more conscious that I’m Tibetan or Buddhist, it makes me realize that we are all the same in being human.”
Lord Layard wanted to know the secret of making good relationships.
“I believe that all seven billion human beings alive today are essentially brothers and sisters,” His Holiness replied. “To think only of ‘my nation’, ‘my people’, ‘my group or community’ is out of date. This narrow thinking too easily leads to conflict. In our interdependent world we have to think instead of the oneness of humanity. We have to consider the wider community because we have to live together with each other. This is why we have to try to educate others to appreciate that humanity is one family.
“In addition to our interdependence, we face the serious challenges of climate change and global warming that we can only meet if we act together and help each other.
“We are social animals. If someone is angry with you, it’s important to remain warm-hearted towards them. Today’s enemy may become tomorrow’s friend. If they behave negatively towards you and you are hostile in return there’ll be no end to the trouble between you.”
Lord Layard recalled His Holiness telling him that founding an organization to promote greater happiness was not his job. However, he agreed to be the Patron of Action for Happiness. Layard asked if he had a message for the movement’s members. His Holiness laughed and told him:
“Your organization is based on cultivating a peaceful, warm-hearted attitude towards others. It’s wonderful and so practical. It shows there is hope for the future. We can create a happier world and a happier humanity. It’s wonderful. And I think your members have already discovered that we are much happier when we’re helping each other.”