The Dalai Lama today was awarded the 2012 Templeton Prize, given each year to a living person for his or her contribution to spirituality. A monetary award of about $1.7 million will be presented with the prize at a ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 14. It will be the Dalai Lama’s first visit to St. Paul’s.
The Dalai Lama plans to donate the prize money to benefit malnourished children in Africa and Asia, Joint Secretary Tenzin Taklha said.
“When His Holiness was informed of having been conferred the 2012 Templeton Award, he felt it was another sign of recognition of His ‘little service’ to humanity, mainly the promotion of non-violence and unity among the different religious traditions,” Mr. Taklha said. “His Holiness is fully dedicated to bring closer understanding among different religious traditions.”
The Dalai Lama hopes the award raises more awareness and attention to his efforts to promote secular values and closer inter-religious harmony, Mr. Taklha said.
In announcing the prize, the John Templeton Foundation cited the Dalai Lama’s “long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions.” The foundation specifically cited the Dalai Lama’s investigative reviews of the power of compassion and its potential to address global problems.
The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
In my recent interview with the Dalai Lama, we discussed compassion, which, along with the idea of interdependence, is the foundation of his teachings. In his latest book, “Beyond Religion,” the Dalai Lama makes the case for promoting compassion outside the realm of religion, and advocates the education of compassion. Read an edited transcript of the interview below.
How can compassion be taught?
I think firstly, part of education is information, for example in school books, some explanation about our body or organs. So why not explain something about our emotions? Different emotions. And make clear anger, fear very much disturbs your calm mind. Open heart, warmheartedess or sense of concern of others’ well-being: that attitude itself immediately creates self-confidence because you are very much open to them. If you keep some kind of suspicion, then you automatically fear their attitude might also be the same. Then you cannot achieve real peace of mind. If you’re open and show them they’re genuine brothers and sisters, it immediately releases some kind of insecurity. So not talking about God, simply about our body, and in order to explain brainwork, you have to relate it to the emotions. They change blood circulation or movement in the brain. For example, according to scientists, when fear comes, then blood goes more to the legs, ready to run away. Anger comes, blood goes more to hands, to fight. I think children may develop interest about our movements related to different emotions, or different mental perspectives.
Many business schools are teaching ethics after recent corporate scandals. Should compassion be part of business ethics courses?
I think truth out of fear of justice — if you have enough confidence to manipulate the law, then honesty is no longer there. Honesty, you can also manipulate. But truth based on compassion is voluntary, not out of some fear of law. For example, harming others out of fear of criminal law. If you see there’s no danger of a criminal case, you can hide something, you may commit that. If the person respects their life, and [has] this sense of concern of their happiness and well-being, then there’s no room to develop the desire to hit, harm or kill. All these positive things, honesty, truth, transparency – all these ultimately depend on moral ethics.
The main secular ethics you are promoting are compassion and interdependence?
I feel two ways. Firstly, we want this 21st century as a century of peace. Previous century became century of bloodshed, century of violence. Now, genuine peace is through inner peace. The real factor [that] develops violence is hatred, anger, fear. So when we talk about peace and violence, peace and war, [it’s] ultimately rich with our emotion. So we have to deal with emotion. Full of anger, full of fear, full of hatred – how can develop peace? So, as a materialist people, not much concern, not much talking about emotion. Emotion is the ultimate source of violence or nonviolence. In order to build peaceful world, nonviolent world, we must deal with emotion. With sense of respect of others’ rights, with concern of others’ well being, and also full of knowledge about the holistic – my own interest, my nation’s interest, depend on other nations. Then, consider war is outdated. Consider war is not realistic. My interests depend on their interests. Whether you like it or not, you have to share with them. That’s reality. That view is the source of spirit of reconciliation, spirit of dialogue. Peace does not mean no longer any problems. We have to find ways and means to tackle this problem not using force, but through dialogue. So, we have to deal with our emotion. Then, that sort of positive emotion will not bring by United Nations charter. Or 190 members of the United Nations, no government can change that. Only through education. And education based on religious belief cannot be universal. So, a secular way of educating about moral principles. That brings calmness of mind.
Calmness of mind [has] two benefits: one way, our brain is then fully utilized. Too much emotion, negative emotion is biased. Biased mind never can judge objectively. So calm mind is very, very important to carry out investigation about the truth. And then calm mind, how to develop calm mind? Training of anger? No. Training of desire? No. Training of competition? No. Training of warmheartedness. That’s the way.