World Peace Starts with You

In his new book, His Holiness the Dalai Lama reminds us that in order to change the world, we must first change ourselves.


| October 2016



Prayer wheels

Happiness is an admirable thing to strive for, as it is only by having your own joy that you can pass peace on to others.

Photo by Fotolia/Mariusz Prusaczyk

Desire for happiness is a force that drives everyone in the world. But while most people reach for outward possessions for fulfillment, His Holiness the Dalai Lama tells us that internal happiness is the key, and that it starts with peace of mind. In his book, The Dalai Lama’s Big Book of Happiness (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2016), readers are reminded that to live in a world of joy and harmony, you have to start with yourself. Only then can you reach out to others with warmth and make a difference in their lives.

For more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

Our first aim is to create a happy world, which is based on a happy community, which in turn is based on a happy fam­ily and a happy individual. So, without the happy individual, a happy world cannot be created. Of course, I am a Buddhist and fasting and praying is a part of my life. But one cannot achieve a happy world through prayers. Prayer brings limited benefit to the individual, but none to the world. For a happy world, an individual should be a sensible person and spread the happiness within the family, the community, and then on a national and a global level.

A happy human being does not have to be religious, but should include meditation in his daily life to become a sensible human being. Global level peace cannot be attained through religion because of the existence of a large number of nonbelievers. The main aim is to find a secular way of attaining peace, without touching religion. In the West, my friends who are Christians and Muslims believe that secularism is about disrespecting their religion. But in India, secularism is about respecting all religions and does not give any preference to any religion.

According to my Indian friend, the former deputy prime minister of India, secularism gives respect to nonbelievers too. For more than two thousand years, a small section of philoso­phers have denied the existence of the next life or the concept of karma. He told me that the section of believers had to face criticism for that view, but they were not disrespected in any manner. So, when I say secular, I don’t mean any disrespect to any religion. I am a Buddhist and I believe in religion, but I respect all religions and talk about secularism. With my limited understanding and vocabulary in English, I will try to explain the meaning of secular ethics.

According to me, value means something useful and helpful for our existence. We have a body and a mind, but we need to have a healthy body and a healthy mind. A healthy mind is a phenomenon which involves a subjective way of viewing things. The world of the mind is made of neurons but has different levels, according to Indian psychology. The more subtle-level emotions are based on the sensorial level of the mind; whereas the dream state is the deeper level of mind which does not depend on senses, but depends on five kinds of mental objects.