How to Expand Love: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationshipsby Dalai Lama
In How to Expand Love, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize,/i>
In our quest for true happiness and fulfillment during the course of our lives, nothing is more essential than giving and receiving love. But how well do we understand love's extraordinarily transformative powers? Can we really cultivate and appreciate its priceless gifts?
In How to Expand Love, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, offers a simple yet illuminating program for transforming self-centered energy into outwardly directed compassion. Drawing on exercises and techniques established in Tibetan monasteries more than a thousand years ago, the Dalai Lama guides us through seven key stages.
First, we learn ways to move beyond our self-defeating tendency to put others into rigid categories. We discover how to create and maintain a positive attitude toward those around us, in ever-widening circles. By reflecting on the kindnesses that close friends have shown us, particularly in childhood, we learn to reciprocate and help other people achieve their own long-term goals. And in seeking the well-being of others, we foster compassion, the all-encompassing face of love.
In this accessible and insightful book, His Holiness the Dalai Lama helps us to open our hearts and minds to the experience of unlimited love, transforming every relationship in our lives and guiding us ever closer to wisdom and enlightenment.
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Read an Excerpt
If the internal enemy of hatred is not tamed,
When one tries to tame external enemies, they increase.
Therefore, it is a practice of the wise to tame themselves
By means of the forces of love and compassion.
-- Bodhisattva Tokmay Sangpo
When I speak about love and compassion, I do so not as a Buddhist, nor as a Tibetan, nor as the Dalai Lama. I do so as one human being speaking with another. I hope that you at this moment will think of yourself as a human being rather than as an American, Asian, European, African, or member of any particular country. These loyalties are secondary. If you and I find common ground as human beings, we will communicate on a basic level. If I say, "I am a monk," or "I am a Buddhist," these are, in comparison to my nature as a human being, temporary. To be human is basic, the foundation from which we all arise. You are born as a human being, and that cannot change until death. All else -- whether you are educated or uneducated, young or old, rich or poor -- is secondary.
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 not solve our larger problem of discontentment. 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 you 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 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 own 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 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 at the heart of religion. Therefore, in this book I will describe the practice of love that I also do. In experience the practice of love brings peace of mind to myself and helps others. Foolish selfish people are 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. The goal must be to serve others, not dominate them. Those who are wise practice love. As the Indian scholar and yogi Nagarjuna says in his Precious Garland of Advice:
Having analyzed well
All deeds of body, speech, and mind,
Those who realize what benefit self and others
And always do these are wise.
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. If we lead that life for the benefit of the world, this is the hallmark of a religious life.
This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart, is the temple; your philosophy is simple kindness.
Copyright © 2005 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D.
Meet the Author
Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.
His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.
Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D., served for a decade as the interpreter for the Dalai Lama. A Buddhist scholar and the author of more than thirty-five books and translations, he is emeritus professor of Tibetan and Buddhist studies at the University of Virginia, where he founded the largest academic program of Tibetan Buddhist studies in the West.
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