No Need For Temples:Religion
Is Here And Now
H.H. the DALAI LAMA
In big cities, on farms, in remote places, throughout the countryside,
people are moving busily. Why? We are all motivated by desire to
make ourselves happy. To do so is right. However, we must keep in
mind that too much involvement in the superficial aspects of life
will solve our larger problem of discontent. Love, compassion and
concern for others are real sources of happiness. With these in abundance,
you will not be disturbed by even the most uncomfortable circumstances.
If you nurse hatred, however, you will not be happy even in the lap
of luxury. Thus, if we really want happiness, we must widen the sphere
of love. This is both religious thinking and basic common sense.
Anger cannot be overcome by anger. If a person shows anger to you,
and your show anger in return, the result is a disaster. In contrast,
if you control your anger and show its opposite—love, compassion,
tolerance, and patience—then not only will you remain in peace,
but the anger of others also will gradually diminish. No one can argue
with the fact that in the presence of anger, peace is impossible. Only
through kindness and love can peace of mind be achieved.
Only human beings can judge and reason; we understand the consequences
and think in the long term. It is also true that human beings can develop
infinite love, whereas to the best of our knowledge animals can have
only limited forms of affection and love. However, when humans become
angry, all of this potential is lost. No enemy armed with mere weapons
can undo these qualities, but anger can. It is the destroyer.
If you look deeply into such things, the blueprint for our actions
can be found within the mind. Self-defeating attitudes arise not of
their own accord but out of ignorance. Success, too, is found within
ourselves. Out of self-discipline, self-awareness, and clear realization
of the defects of anger and the positive effects of kindness will come
peace. For instance, at present you may be a person who gets easily
irritated. However, with clear understanding and awareness, your irritability
can first be undermined, and then replaced. The purpose of this book
is to prepare the ground for that understanding from which true love
can grow. We need to cultivate the mind.
All religions teach a message of love, compassion, sincerity, and
honesty. Each system seeks its own way to improve life for us all.
Yet if we put too much emphasis on our on philosophy, religion, or
theory, becoming too attached to it, and try to impose it on other
people, the result will be trouble. Basically all the great teachers,
including Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Moses, were motivated
by a desire to help their fellow human beings. They did not seek to
gain anything for themselves, nor to create more trouble in the world.
Religion may have become synonymous with deep philosophical issues,
but it is love and compassion that lie in the heart of religion. Therefore
I will describe the practice of love as I undertake it. In experience
the practice of love brings peace of mind to myself and helps others.
Foolish selfish people area always thinking of themselves, and the
result is always negative. Wise persons think of others, helping them
as much as they can, and the result is happiness. Love and compassion
are beneficial both for you and for others. Through your kindness toward
others, your mind and heart will open to peace.
Expanding this inner environment to the larger community around you
will bring unity, harmony, and cooperation; expanding peace further
still to nations and then to the world will bring mutual trust, mutual
respect, sincere communication, and finally successful joint efforts
to solve the world’s problems. All this is possible. But first
we must change ourselves.
Each one of us is responsible for all of humankind. We need to think
of each other as true brothers and sisters, and to be concerned with
each other’s welfare. We must seek to lessen the suffering of
others. Rather than working solely to acquire wealth, we need to do
something meaningful, something seriously directed toward the welfare
of humanity as a whole.
Being motivated by compassion and love, respecting the rights of others—this
is real religion. To wear robes and speak about God but think selfishly
is not a religious act. On the other hand, a politician or a lawyer
with real concern for humankind who takes actions that benefit others
is truly practicing religion. A religious act is performed out of good
motivation with sincere thought for the benefit of others. Religion
is here and now in our daily lives.
This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated
philosophy. You own mind, your own heart, is the temple; your philosophy
is simple kindness.
Excerpted from HOW TO EXPAND LOVE: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationships,
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Atria Books, $20). Reprinted with permission.