Ecology and the Human Heart

BY His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Ecology and the Human Heart
The Ripple Effect of Finding Internal Balance

According to Buddhist teaching, there is a very close interdependence between the natural environment and the sentient beings living in it. Some of my friends have told me that basic human nature is somewhat violent, but I told them I disagree. If we examine different animals, for example, those whose very survival depends on taking others lives, such as tigers or lions, we learnt that their basic nature provides them with sharp fangs and claws. Peaceful animals, such as deer, which are completely vegetarian, are gentler and have smaller teeth and no claws. From that viewpoint we human beings have a non-violent nature. As to the question of human survival, human beings are social animals. In order to survive we need companions. Without other human beings there is simply no possibility of surviving; that is a law of nature.

Since I deeply believe that human beings are basically gentle by nature, I feel that we should not only maintain gentle, peaceful relations with our fellow human beings but also that it is very important to extend the same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.

We should be concerned for our whole environment.We depend on our environment and our environment depends on us.

Then there is another viewpoint, not just a question of ethics but a question of our own survival. The environment is very important not only for this generation but also for future generations. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, even though we may get some money or other benefit from it now, in the long run we ourselves will suffer and future generations will suffer. When the environment changes, climatic conditions also change. When they change dramatically, the economy and many other things change as well. Even our physical health will be greatly affected. So this is not merely a moral question but also a question of our own survival.

Therefore, in order to succeed in the protection and conservation of the natural environment, I think it is important first of all to bring about an internal balance within human beings themselves. The abuse of the environment, which has resulted in such harm to the human community, arose out of ignorance of the importance of the environment. I think it is essential to help people to understand this. We need to teach people that the environment has a direct bearing on our own benefit.

I am always talking about the importance of compassionate thought. As I said earlier, even from your own selfish viewpoint, you need other people. So, if you develop concern for other people’s welfare, share other people’s suffering, and help them, ultimately you will benefit. If you think only of yourself and forget about others, ultimately you will lose. That is also something like a law of nature.

Caring for othersCaring for others is also caring for ourselves.

It is quite simple: if you do not smile at people, but frown at them, they respond similarly, don’t they? If you deal with other people in a very sincere, open way, they behave similarly. Everybody wants to have friends and does not want enemies. The proper way to create friends is to have a warm heart, not simply money or power. The friend of power and the friend of money are something different: These are not true friends. True friends should be real friends of heart, shouldn’t they? I am always telling people that those friends who come around when you have money and power are not truly your friends, but friends of money and power, because as soon as the money and power disappear, those friends are also ready to leave. They are not reliable.

Genuine, human friends stand by, whether you are successful or unlucky, and always share your sorrow and burdens. The way to make such friends is not by being angry, nor by having good education or intelligence, but by having a good heart.

FriendsTrue connection comes from the heart. From kindness.

To think more deeply, if you must be selfish, then be wisely selfish, not narrow-mindedly selfish. The key thing is the sense of universal responsibility; that is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness. If our generation exploits everything available – the trees, the water, and the minerals – without any care for the coming generations or the future, then we are at fault, aren’t we? But if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relations with our neighbors, both domestic and international, improves.

Another important question is: What is consciousness, what is the mind? In the Western world, during the last one or two centuries there has been great emphasis on science and technology, which mainly deal with matter. Today some nuclear physicists and neurologists say that when you investigate particles in a very detailed way, there is some kind of influence from the side of the observer, the knower. What is this knower? A simple answer is; A human being, the scientist. How does the scientist know? With the brain, Western scientists have identified only a few hundred so far. Now, whether you call it mind, brain, or consciousness, there is a relationship between brain and mind and also mind and matter. I think this is important. I feel it is possible to hold some sort of dialogue between Eastern philosophy and Western science on the basis of this relationship.

No doctor can give you an injection of mental peace, and no market can sell it to you.No doctor can give you an injection of mental peace, and no market can sell it to you.

In any case, these days we human beings are very much more involved in the external world, while we neglect the internal world. We do need scientific development and material development in order to survive and to increase the general benefit and prosperity, but equally as much we need mental peace. Yet no doctor can give you an injection of mental peace, and no market can sell it to you. If you go to a supermarket with millions and millions of dollars, you can buy anything, but if you go there and ask for peace of mind, people will laugh. And if you ask a doctor for genuine peace of mind, not the mere sedation you get from taking some kind of pill or injection, the doctor cannot help you.

Even today’s sophisticated computers cannot provide you with mental peace. Mental peace must come from the mind. Everyone wants happiness and pleasure, but if we compare physical pleasure and physical pain with mental pleasure and mental pain, we find that the mind is more effective, predominant, and superior. Thus it is worthwhile adopting certain methods to increase mental peace, and in order to do that, it is important to know more about the mind. When we talk about preservation of the environment, it is related to many other things. The key point is to have genuine sense of universal responsibility, based on love and compassion, and clear awareness.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
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kamir bouchareb st
1 year ago


Karen Oogjen
4 years ago

Dear Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and Team Uplift:
I would like to address some of the statements made in the essay on this page. The animals that developed big teeth and claws in order to survive are just as much in need of our loving kindness as the deer and antelope are: This is very important holistic information…for all the animals have not been not properly loved and cared for by mankind. This is the truth; and the big cats and coyotes (for examples) have been in need of an environment that is lush and full of vegetation of all kinds – yet they also need love and care by mankind in a very thoughtful, complete way. This is because life is precious; the lives of all the animals are precious; the deer are precious and so are the leopards, tigers and lions…the birds are all precious also. They need land that is protected for them; land that is full of herbs, squash and trees and clean shallow pools that are filtered: Some could have mussels and fish in them. The animals also ought to be fed by mankind (someone made us pots to cook in; so the animals ought to be able to be fed veggie protein pancakes and hard boiled eggs also is true) and when they are fed they do not go crazy with despair: They play with deer they do not then intentionally harm them, Yet that is not to say that they should be left together with deer. Their births can be controlled with intermittent birth control. They ought to have their own roaming territory safe away from insane men and cared for by honest to goodness genuinely caring men and women. In this way we honor God’s beloved mammalian kingdom and our own beings are become what they are meant to be: Wholesome, loving, filled with joy to see them safe and happy: Our hearts are in the right place. The animals need large sanctuaries well run and protected. It is nice to have a slow monorail like as in Disney World to go through to look down and see them. It ought to be enclosed so people can not make them sick nor give them germs. This is a whole other issue where people have germs that never should have had germs in the first place. It is part and parcel with the fact that many peoples did not understand that they were not supposed to have babies unless they had the indwelling of the holy spirit first; and the Hymen of the female (human) was never supposed to be broken from the outside by a man or any other way… the man was supposed to give the indwelling of the Holy Spirit first; in that way it is the right man finding her. I think that is why the Chinese Emperor used to have many wives that were each supposed to be sent as the most feminine and most beautiful; because he came from a family line where the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit had occurred (and maybe even it was by him to a woman that it had happened) and therefore; the other men who had not done so and ought not to have children therefore so the race would be properly corrected he would have the wives sent (carefully chosen); yet they probably should have had patrilineal lines and mother-lines that all for sure were vegan. The animals (hoofs and paws) needed us; they need us to do the right thing by them. Porpoises have been found to give each other names. Animals try to speak to us with their eyes and noises sometimes. Many men may not always be what they are meant to be: yet men who are who they are meant to be do know this. They have DNA that resonates to God’s harmonies and it is a real science indeed.. We must not teach college children to do the wrong thing by animals because that misleads children into developing wrong. It develops cold hearts that do not transform into divine image in the way they were meant to do so through their life nor their generations.

Kristof Sibilla
4 years ago

You live by sword you die by is very difficult to brake that circle.But one who knows unconditional love will transform hate into love .Yes very difficult but that is human quest.
How much time do we spent to learn different subjects,lets add love as subject number one and then let,s see.

Maureen Wright
4 years ago

I believe what is been termed “human nature”is “human tendency”and is created by our culture, if we are born into a militaristic culture it forms a perspective that it OK to solve our problems with violence and it is OK to make our living producing weapons. Then we must look to a way to use those weapons, ie war. If our culture is based on compassion and caring, we are going to have a “human nature” of love and solve problems such as legal means.
It is said “no one is born a racist”. However most of us are born into a racist culture, not all of us buy into the racist policies. Is it our “human nature” to buy and sell other humans?
I don’t think so, but if that is the culture, we might not fight against that policy.
It is more likely we have a human tendency to be co-operative.

John B. Murdock
4 years ago

Sorry to be contrarian here, but I do need to question HHDL’s premise about humans vs animals. It is true we do not have claws or fangs like a tiger, but oh my goodness, look at our WPMs! As part of our human nature, created with our own hands and minds, we have missiles, nuclear bombs, and automatic rifles designed specifically for killing and maiming other humans— and we don’t just do it to eat or defend habitat, the way animals kill for survival. We do it for capturing resources and changing regimes in other humans’ habitats around the world, even though we have more than enough to feed ourselves in our own habitat. So while I love the IDEA and the IDEAL that humans are peaceful beings, I think the jury will have to stay out a while longer on the question whether humans are less voracious than any other species on the planet. How many Tibetans were killed just so China could claim that Tibet is part of its empire as opposed to being a peace-loving independent country?

David Moxon
4 years ago

The greatness and mindfulness comes from sharing the great news about our universal language we can learn so much form the simplecities of life working in correlation and adapting to a sense of awareness and our environments working with our internal clocks and manifestations life perspectives and challenges we nned to be rooted in good earthy vessels matters to live within the spheres of an ever changing world

Marilynne Cahn
4 years ago

Such wisdom…our deep down wisdom articulated. Maybe one day, this will be part of school curriculum – to step inside.

Mahendra N.Parikh
4 years ago

It is truly thought provoking that is what my sincere heart felt feelings

4 years ago

When i talk similar things, when i write similar articles no one reads, no one publishes. Because people are more concerned about WHO’S THE ONE HOLDONG PEN.
Sadly one has to be someone as big as HH so people can publish , read and accept it.

4 years ago

Amazing, awesome, heart touching true.. Such a powerful words totally resonate with me. Thank you for sharing so much wisdom.

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