in an Interdependent World
It is critical, the Dalai Lama says, that we cultivate
a sense of what he calls universal responsibility. In
Tibetan the term the Dalai Lama uses means universal consciousness,
but the sense of responsibility is an important component.
Consider these two terms: universal consciousness
and universal responsibility. What does universal
mean to you? Can you imagine having universal consciousness?
What about responsibility? Is the Dalai Lama suggesting
that each of us is responsible
for each war and famine
throughout the world?
Is he suggesting that you should feel responsible
for the poverty of a single village on the other
side of the globe?
Sensitive to all
By developing a sense of universal responsibility,
recognizing the right of all others to happiness and not to suffer,
we cultivate a mind-set that is sensitive to others. As you know
from our presentation of great compassion, the Dalai Lama is
urging us to be sensitive to the needs of all others — not
just those close to us, those within our sphere of interest.
And so we guard against focusing on superficial differences,
which causes divisiveness and suffering.
When you think in terms of absolutes — in
terms of religions, languages, customs, culture,
and so on — do you find yourself making small,
How might this discrimination create suffering
both for ourselves and others? Does this make any
sense? As the Dalai Lama asks:
What is the point of creating
still more unnecessary problems simply on the
basis of different ways of thinking or different
We can emphasize how we all are essentially the same. When
we understand that everyone wants to be loved, to be happy, and
not to suffer, concern for well-being of others arises almost
by itself. Most people naturally understand this in relation
to their own families and their friends. It is important
to extend this understanding to other communities and nations,
for these no longer exist in isolation.
Do you find your concern for others
diminishes as the others are more removed from
your own family, your own community, your country?
Do you find yourself focused on the
superficial differences between your community
and others, your country and others, your faith
and others. . . ?
If I were to look on each as
one of my own kind — as a human being like myself
with one nose, two eyes, and so forth, ignoring
differences of shape and color — then automatically
that sense of distance would fade. I would see
that we have the same human flesh and that, moreover,
just as I want to be happy and to avoid suffering,
so do they. On the basis of this recognition, I
would quite naturally feel well disposed toward
them. And concern for their well-being would arise
almost by itself.