His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Spirituality and Nature
I think you came here with some expectation, bur essentially I’ve nothing to offer you. Simply, I’ll try to share some of my own experiences and my views. You see, taking care of the planet is nothing special, nothing sacred, and nothing holy. It is something like taking care of our own house. We have no other planet or house except this one. Although there are a lot of disturbances and problems, this is our only alternative. We can’t go to other planets. For example, take the moon; it looks or appears beautiful from a distance bur if you go there and settle there it is horrible. This is what I think. So you see, our blue planet is much better and happier. So, therefore, we have to care of our- own place or house or planet. After all, the human being is a social animal. I often tell my friends that they have no need to study philosophy, these professional, complicated subjects. By simply looking at these innocent animals, insects, ants, bees, etc., quite often I develop some kind of respect for them. How? Because they have no religion, no constitution, no police force, nothing. But they live in harmony through the natural law of existence or nature’s law or system. We human beings, what is wrong with us? We human beings have such intelligence and human wisdom. I think we often use human intelligence in a wrong way or direction. As a result, in a way, we are doing certain actions which essentially go against basic human nature. From a certain viewpoint, religion is a little bit of a luxury. If you have religion, very good; even without religion you can survive and you can manage, but without human affection we can’t survive. Although anger and hatred, like compassion and love, are part of our mind, still I believe the dominant force of our mind is compassion and human affection. Therefore, usually I call these human qualities spirituality. Not necessarily as a religious message or religion in that sense. Science and technology together with human affection will be constructive. Science and technology under the control of hatred will be destructive. If we practice religion properly, or genuinely, or religion is not something outside but in our hearts. The essence of any religion is good heart. Sometimes I call love and compassion a universal religion. This is my religion. Complicated philosophy, this and that, sometimes create more trouble and problems. If these sophisticated philosophies are useful for the development of good heart, then good: use them fully. If these complicated philosophies or systems become an obstacle to a good heart then better to leave them. This is what I feel. If we look closely at human nature affection is the key to a good heart. I think the mother is a symbol of compassion. Every one has a seed of good heart. The only thing is whether we take care or not to realize the value of compassion.
An address to the four-day ecumenical Middlebury Symposium on religion and the environment, Middlebury College, Vermont, USA, delivered on September 14, 1990.