Achieving Peace through Inner Peace – Dalai Lama

Peace is everyone’s concern, whether living in the East, the West, the North, or the South. Whether rich or poor, everybody needs to be genuinely concerned with peace. We are all human beings and so we all have the same concern in general: to be happy, to have a happy life. And we all deserve a happy life. We are speaking here on that level. Everyone has a feeling of “me” or “the self,” but we don’t fully understand what the “me” or “the self” is. Nevertheless, still we have a strong feeling of “me.” With that feeling comes the desire to have happiness and not to have suffering. This automatically arises or appears. On that basis, we all have the right to be happy.

Meanwhile, in our lives lots of unpleasant things and obstacles are bound to happen. There are two categories of these. One category of pain is due to physical causes, for instance sickness and growing older. Like myself, already I have some experience about this – it’s difficult for me to hear, to see, to walk. These things are bound to happen. The other category is mainly the mental level. If, on the physical level, everything is comfortable and luxurious and everything is there, but still if we have some stress and self-doubts, we feel lonely. We have jealousy, fear and hatred, and then we’re unhappy. So, despite the physical level, on the mental level we could have much suffering.

For physical comfort, then with money, yes, we can reduce some suffering and bring physical satisfaction. That physical level, including power, name, and fame, however, can’t bring us inner peace. Sometimes, in fact, having a lot of money and wealth just generates more worry in us. We are too much concerned about our name and fame, and that leads to some hypocrisy, some discomfort, some stress. So, mental happiness is not so dependent on external means, but on the internal way of our thinking.

We can see that there are some poor people who are still, on the inner level, very strong and happy. In fact, if we have inner satisfaction, we can bear any type of difficult physical suffering and can transform it. So, between physical and mental pain, I think mental pain is more severe. This is because physical discomfort can be subdued by mental comfort, but mental discomfort can’t be eliminated by physical comfort.

The mental troubles and problems of people are stronger and more severe than those of animals. On the physical level, perhaps the suffering of both is the same, but, concerning human beings, because of our intelligence we have doubts, insecurity, and stress. These lead to depression; and all of that comes about because of our superior intelligence. To counter this, we must also use our human intelligence. On an emotional level, some emotions, as soon as they arise, cause us to lose our peace of mind. Certain emotions, on the other hand, even bring us more strength. They are the basis of strength and confidence and lead us to have a more tranquil and calmer state of mind.

Two Categories of Emotions

Therefore there are two categories of emotions. One is very harmful for peace of mind and these are the destructive emotions such as anger and hatred. They not only destroy our peace of mind at this moment, but they also are very destructive for our speech and our bodies. In other words, they affect the way that we act. They lead us to act in harmful ways and therefore they’re destructive. Other emotions, however, give us inner strength and peace such as compassion. They bring us the strength of forgiveness, for example. Even if we have some troubles at a certain time with some person, forgiveness eventually will lead us to be tranquil, to have peace of mind. The person that we were so angry with could even become our best friend.

External Peace

When we speak of peace, we must talk of these emotions and inner peace. Therefore, we have to find out which emotions lead to inner peace. But first I want to say something about external peace.

External peace is not just the mere absence of violence. Perhaps during the Cold War we apparently had peace; but that peace was based on fear, fear of a nuclear holocaust. Both sides had fear of the other bombing them, so this wasn’t genuine peace. Genuine peace must come from inner peace. Whenever there is conflict, I feel that we must find a peaceful solution and that means through dialogue. So peace has much to do with warm-heartedness and respect for the lives of others, resisting causing harm to others, and having the attitude that the lives of others are as sacred as our own. We need to respect that and, on that basis, if we can also help the others, then we try to do so…

As humans, we always have different points of view in our interactions with each other. But based on strong concepts of “me” and “they,” then in addition we get the concepts of “my interest” and “your interest.” On that basis, we can even get war. We think that the destruction of my enemy will bring about my victory. But now, there is a new reality. We are heavily interdependent on each other from the economic point of view and from the ecological point of view. So the concepts of “we” and “they” are no longer relevant. Those that we considered “they” now have become part of “we.” So the key factor to developing peace of mind is compassion, based on the recognition that we are six billion people on this planet and all of us people have the same right to happiness. Based on that, we take everybody seriously and, on that basis, we should be able to establish external peace…” ~ Dalai Lama

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