Dalai Lama on suffering

Mostly, I believe we are proceeding towards global kindness. But sometimes I don’t want to hear the news because my positive attitude is not immune to negativity.


According to His Holiness, “We can distinguish between man-made suffering and other suffering. If we adopt certain attitudes, we can definitely reduce man-made suffering. So, many sentient beings, both humans and animals, suffer on a daily basis that it is easy to become overwhelmed with despair. At this point, we may begin to want to separate from all the suffering of life, to turn away and say that this world and all its suffering is simply an illusion.”I am not the hermit type. I want to help those in need, those who are suffering, not just my family and close associates, but the wider family of my fellow beings.

“In Buddhism, there are two levels and meanings of ‘illusion.’ On the conventional level, ‘illusion’ means your mind is simply confused, and you perceive incorrectly because of it,” the Dalai Lama says. “When you confront someone who has undergone a traumatic experience, this is real suffering.  It is not just an illusion.

“The second level of illusion is far subtler and doesn’t have to do with this level of confusion at all. On that level, there is an illusory aspect to the suffering. But the chance of misunderstanding here is great.” Once we recognise that we are related to everyone and are part of their lives, whether we know them or not, we reach understanding.

The Embodiment of Tibet, Kundun, assures us, “The true meaning of ‘emptiness’ is the absence of independent existence. Usually, we project an independent existence onto events and things. ‘Emptiness’ has a connotation of ‘fullness,’ of being dependent upon other factors. There is interconnectedness implied in the doctrine of emptiness. In Buddhism, the term ‘illusion’ means that phenomena do not exist independently of other phenomena, that their appearance of independent existence is illusory. This is all that is meant by ‘illusion’ not that something is not really there.”

Discovering that we are interdependent is a great relief. It allows us to love one another fully.The Embodiment of Compassion teaches, “In Tibet, there is a lot of suffering under the name of liberation. But if I see the Chinese leaders as human beings – our neighbours, people with a long history and a high civilisation – instead of having ill will, I have respect. Doing this helps reduce negative feelings and gives rise to patience and tolerance.

This doesn’t mean that I accept Chinese oppression. I do whatever I can to stand firm against oppression, but I do it without ill will. In the case of an individual, it is quite similar. If there is an unreasonable demand on you, it may require some resistance or counter measure. But that countermeasure will be more effective if it is not motivated by anger. When your mind is dominated by anger, you become half-mad and you won’t be able to hit the target.”

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