by Dalai Lama
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ME VERSUS WE
I think this is the first time I am meeting most of you. But whether it is an old friend or a new friend, there's not much difference anyway, because I always believe we are the same: We are all just human beings. -H.H. THE DALAI LAMA, SPEAKING TO A CROWD OF MANY THOUSANDS
Time passes. The world changes. But there is one constant I have grown used to over the years, while intermittently traveling on speaking tours with the Dalai Lama: When speaking to a general audience, he invariably opens his address, "We are all the same . . ."
Once establishing a bond with each member of the audience in that way, he then proceeds to that evening's particular topic. But over the years I've witnessed a remarkable phenomenon: Whether he is speaking to a small formal meeting of leaders on Capitol Hill, addressing a gathering of a hundred thousand in Central Park, an interfaith dialogue in Australia, or a scientific conference in Switzerland, or teaching twenty thousand monks in India, one can sense an almost palpable effect. He seems to create a feeling among his audience not only of connection to him, but of connection to one another, a fundamental human bond.
It was early on a Monday morning and I was back in Dharamsala, scheduled to meet shortly with the Dalai Lama for our first meeting in a fresh series of discussions. Home to a thriving Tibetan community, Dharamsala is a tranquil village built into a ridge of the Dauladar mountain range, the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India. I had arrived a few days earlier, around the same time as the Dalai Lama himself, who had just returned home from a three-week speaking tour in the United States.
I finished breakfast early, and as the Dalai Lama's residence was only a five-minute walk along a mountain path from the guesthouse where I was staying, I retired to the common room to finish my coffee and review my notes in preparation for our meeting. Though the room was deserted, someone had left on the TV tuned to the world news. Absorbed in my notes, I wasn't paying much attention to the news and for several minutes the suffering of the world was nothing but background noise.
It wasn't long, however, before I happened to look up and a story caught my attention. A Palestinian suicide bomber had detonated an explosive at a Tel Aviv disco, deliberately targeting Israeli boys and girls. Almost two dozen teenagers were killed. But killing alone apparently was not satisfying enough for the terrorist. He had filled his bomb with rusty nails and screws for good measure, in order to maim and disfigure those whom he couldn't kill.
Before the immense cruelty of such an act could fully sink in, other news reports quickly followed-a bleak mix of natural disasters and intentional acts of violence . . . the Crown Prince of Nepal slaughters his entire family . . . survivors of the Gujarat earthquake still struggle to recover.
Fresh from accompanying the Dalai Lama on his recent tour, I found that his words "We are all the same" rang in my head as I watched these horrifying stories of suddenly suffering and misery. I then realized I had been listening to these reports as if the victims were vague, faceless abstract entities, not a group of individuals "the same as me." It seemed that the greater the sense of distance between me and the victim, the less real they seemed to be, the less like living, breathing human beings. But now, for a moment, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be one of the earthquake victims, going about my usual daily chores one moment and seventy-five seconds later having no family, home, or possessions, suddenly becoming penniless and...
About the Author-
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. He is a recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Human Rights Award, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, and the Nobel Peace Prize. He lives in Dharamsala, India.
Howard C. Cutler, MD, is a psychiatrist, bestselling author, and speaker. He is coauthor, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, of the acclaimed Art of Happiness series of books. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is on the editorial board of The American Journal of Psychotherapy.
PublisherPenguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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