The 14th Dalai Lama (spiritual name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, also known as Tenzin Gyatso; né Lhamo Thondup), and known to the Tibetan people as Gyalwa Rinpoche, is the current Dalai Lama, also the highest spiritual leader and head of Tibet. He is considered a living Bodhisattva;...
Lack of understanding of the true nature of happiness, it seems to me, is the principal reason why people inflict sufferings on others. They think either that the other's pain may somehow be a cause of happiness for themselves or that their own happiness is more important, regardless of what pain it may cause. But this is shortsighted. No one truly benefits from causing harm to another sentient being. . . . In the long run causing others misery and infringing their rights to peace and happiness result in anxiety, fear, and suspicion within oneself.
In my lifetime, I have lost my country and have been reduced to being totally dependent on the goodwill of others. I have also lost my mother, and most of my tutors and gurus have passed away, although I now have a few new gurus. Of course these are tragic incidents, and I feel sad when I think about them. However, I don't feel overwhelmed by sadness. Old, familiar faces disappear, and new faces appear, but I still maintain my happiness and peace of mind.
When, at some point in our lives, we meet a real tragedy — which could happen to any one of us — we can react in two ways. Obviously, we can lose hope, let ourselves slip into discouragement, into alcohol, drugs, and unending sadness. Or else we can wake ourselves up, discover in ourselves an energy that was hidden there, and act with more clarity, more force.
To expect too much compassion from yourself might be a little destructive of your own existence. Even so, at least make a try, and this goes not only for individuals but also for life itself. It's so easy. It's a fashionable idiocy of youth to say the world has not come up to your expectations. "What? I was coming, and this is all they could prepare for me?" Throw it out. Have compassion for the world and those in it.
Compassion is the basis of all morality.
In 1941 Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington bomber at thirteen thousand feet to extinguish a fire in the starboard engine. Secured only by a rope around his waist, he smothered the fire and returned along the wing to the aircraft's cabin. Winston Churchill, an admirer of swashbuckling exploits, summoned the shy New Zealander to 10 Downing Street. Struck dumb with awe in Churchill's presence, Ward was unable to answer the prime minister's questions. Churchill surveyed the unhappy hero with some compassion. "You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence," he said.
"Yes, sir," managed Ward.
"Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours," said Churchill.
—The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes