Module 3

Into the World

We have seen how positive conduct leads to a happier life. We've learned that the capacity for empathy can be transformed into love and compassion and leads us to care for the feelings of others. An ethical act is one where we refrain from causing harm to other's experience or expectations of happiness, and ethical discipline involves the cultivation of virtue, love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness.

As we've seen, the process of learning to lead a full and satisfying life includes:

  • developing an understanding of the truest sources of happiness and setting our priorities in life based on the cultivation of those sources.
  • cultivating inner discipline — a gradual process of rooting out destructive mental states and
 replacing them with positive, constructive states of mind, such as kindness, tolerance, and forgiveness.

In the end, techniques themselves do not lead to a compassionate and open heart. That is up to you and the effort and motivation you bring to what the Dalai Lama calls the spiritual dimension of our life: 

I believe that it is essential to appreciate our potential as human beings and recognize the importance of inner transformation. This should be achieved through a process of mental development.

Social animals in a small world

Universal responsibility

The most important factor for mental peace is human compassion — a sense of caring. Genuine compassion is acting on the basis of respect and the recognition that others also, just like myself, have the right to be happy or aspire to be free from suffering. And because we understand the truth of suffering, that suffering will always be there, we are inspired to develop genuine concern.

I believe that we must consciously develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. We must learn to work not just for our own individual self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the best foundation both for our personal happiness and for world peace, the equitable use of our natural resources, and, through a concern for future generations, the proper care for the environment.

The Dalai Lama believes that our every act has a universal dimension. Because of this, ethical discipline, wholesome conduct, and careful discernment impact not only our personal realm but also increasingly impact the communal realm in an increasingly complex and interdependent world.  We cannot afford to ignore the interests of others, nor our planet.

In this module we see how the qualities of compassion, loving-kindness, and empathy can naturally lead us to work not just for our own self, family, or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind.

If we are committed to the ideal of concern for others, it follows for the Dalai Lama that this commitment should inform social and political policies. In this module we learn the Dalai Lama's personal views on serving humanity, and from these views we can begin to investigate our own thoughts about how to align our social and political policies with our personal commitment to ethical conduct, universal responsibility, and compassion.

In this module we look at six arenas of action: education, the media, our natural environment, politics and economics, peace and disarmament, and inter-religious harmony.

I, for one, strongly believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Every individual has a responsibility to help move our global family in the right direction and we must each assume that responsibility.