"My message is the practice of compassion, love and kindness. These things are very useful in our daily life, and also for the whole of human society these practices can be very important.
"Basically, universal responsibility is the feeling for other people's suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our own enemy is motivated by the quest for happiness. We must recognize that all beings want the same thing we want. This is the way to achieve a true understanding, unfettered by artificial consideration.
"At the heart of Buddhist philosophy is the notion of compassion for others. It should be noted that the compassion encouraged by Mahayana Buddhism is not the usual love one has for friends or family. The love being advocated here is the kind one can have even for another who has done one harm. Developing a kind heart does not always involve any of the sentimental religiosity normally associated with it. It is not just for people who believe in religions; it is for everyone who considers himself or herself to be a member of the human family, and thus sees things in accordingly large terms.
"The rationale for universal compassion is based on the same principle of spiritual democracy. It is the recognition of the fact that every living being has an equal right to and desire for happiness. The true acceptance of the principle of democracy requires that we think and act in terms of the common good. Compassion and universal responsibility require a commitment to personal sacrifice and the neglect of egotistical desires.
"I believe our every-day experience confirms that a self-centred attitude towards problems can be destructive not only towards society, but to the individual as well. Selfishness does not solve problems for us, it multiplies them. Accepting responsibility and maintaining respect for other will leave all concerned at peace. This is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism."
"Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth's living things.
"Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it. It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past that resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations."
"As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it."
Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth's living things.
This lack of respect extends even to the earth's human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.
Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it.
It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information; it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.
Many of the earth's habitats, animals, plants, insects and even micro-organisms that we know to be rare may not be known at all by future generations. We have the capability and the responsibility to ace; we must do so before it is too late.
Just as we should cultivate gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.
This, however, is not just a question of morality or ethics, but a question of our own survival. For this generation and for future generations, the environment is very important. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, we will suffer, as will our future generations. When the environment changes, the climatic condition also changes. When the climate changes dramatically, the economy and many other things change. Our physical health will be greatly affected. Again, conservation is not merely a question of morality, but a question of our own survival.
Therefore, in order to achieve more effective environmental protection and conservation, internal balance within the human being himself or herself is essential. The negligence of the environment, which has resulted in great harm to the human community, resulted from our ignorance of the very special importance of the environment. We must now help people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people that conservation directly aids our survival.
If you must be selfish, then be wise and not narrow-minded in your selfishness. The key point lies in the sense of universal responsibility. That is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness. If we exploit everything available, such as trees, water and minerals, and if we don't plan for our next generation, for the future, then we're at fault, aren't we? However, if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relations with the environment, and with all our neighbours, will be well balanced.
Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.
(From "Humanity and Ecology", © 1988, The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
My Land and My People, Potala Publications, New York, 1962
Freedom in Exile, Harper Collins, New York, 1991
The Buddhism of Tibet and the Key to the Middle Way, Allen and Unwin, 1975; Wisdom Publications, London, 1975
Kindness, Clarity and Insight, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, USA, 1984
The World of Tibetan Buddhism, Wisdom Publications, Boston, USA, 1995
The Way to Freedom: Core Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1995
Beyond Dogma, Souvenir Press Ltd., London, 1996
Ancient Wisdom, Modern World - Ethics for a New Millennium, Little Brown and Company, London, 1999
This latest book by the Dalai Lama is the first book he wrote himself after Freedom in Exile
The Dalai Lama -- A Policy of Kindness, compiled and edited by Sidney Piburn, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, USA, 1990
The Power of Compassion -- A Collection of Lectures..., Thorsons/HarperCollins, 1995