Delhi: “In business, compassion is necessary and a focus on community is important. Business without a concern for others is exploitation,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said in his interaction with senior business leaders in New Delhi on Monday.
Speaking at the India Leadership Council organised by The Economic Times, His Holiness agreed that businesses are necessary for economic growth, but India’s unique standing as the world’s most populous democracy necessitates the concern for other’s wellbeing and mutual understanding.
The Economic Times India Leadership Council is India’s premium leadership platform bringing together senior business leaders representing a cross-section of industry verticals.
“Viewing people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and neglecting the gap between rich and poor are both sources of conflict.”
His Holiness suggested that providing education for street children in India’s big cities including Delhi and Mumbai Potential could be a step forward.
The session was moderated by Mahest Bhatt, an Indian filmmaker and activist. In his introduction, Mahesh Bhatt recalled meeting His Holiness at an award presentation associated with Mother Teresa, where His Holiness said, “Only he who wants enlightenment for everyone is enlightened.” He said he had been struck by the statement.
“My dear brothers and sisters, I always open my talks this way because it is so important that we see each other as brothers and sisters. Basic human nature is compassionate, and yet we face numerous problems that are of our own making,” His Holiness said.
“I was told a story of a group of people who went swimming and one of them got into difficulties. An Englishman stood unmoved on the bank and when asked why he hadn’t offered any help replied that he hadn’t been introduced. If, when we see a human face, we think of the other person as a brother or sister, we won’t need to be introduced. I’m a monk so I don’t possess any jewellery, but I see other people with costly rings on their fingers. None of these ornaments can provide solace with the way another friendly human being can. This is why I always start my talk by greeting the audience as my brothers and sisters.”
Asked what will keep all 7 billion human beings together, His Holiness replied, “When we are born, we have no idea of nationality or religious faith. We are just human beings who want to be happy. We are social creatures who need to live together as friends. An affectionate response brings a smile, which leads to trust that can grow into a friendship and so bring us together.
“Genuine friends are those who continue to support you when things are difficult. For example, I lost my own country but have spent almost 60 years among friends here in India. We Tibetans think of ourselves as students of ancient Indian masters and so have a strong affinity and respect for India.
“In the 8th century CE, the learned scholar Shantarakshita established the Nalanda Tradition of Buddhism to Tibet. He made clear that it didn’t just involve prayer, but the study of difficult texts with logic and reason for 20 or 30 years or more. This knowledge from ancient India is wonderful because it enables us to understand and come to terms with our emotions. It also, incidentally, prepared me well to engage in discussions with scientists.
“I am committed to trying to revive ancient Indian knowledge here in India. Not only does it tell us how to tackle our emotions, it shows us how we can develop real peace of mind. From this, ahimsa and karuna naturally arise. I believe that in India it would be possible to combine this understanding with modern education which could then be shared for the betterment of the world.”
One questioner asked if there would be a 15th Dalai Lama and His Holiness replied that in 1969 he made it clear that the question would be decided by the Tibetan people and others who may have an interest in the matter.
“It’s not as if the survival of the Buddhist tradition depends on it. There is, for example, no recognised reincarnation of the Buddha. Monks and nuns studying for 20 years and more can ensure the longevity of the teaching.
“I retired from political responsibility in 2001 when we first achieved an elected leadership. As far as democracy is concerned we’re ahead of China. As I said, the Tibetan people and people of the Himalayan Region will decide whether to recognise a 15th Dalai Lama. If we look back, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dalai Lamas were wonderful. After the 4th, the 5th was great. He really developed the institution and established the custom of taking responsibility for temporal and spiritual affairs. The 6th was naughty, the 7th was humble, and the 8th was good, but the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th didn’t live very long. The 13th was very good.
“In the case of the 14th Dalai Lama, where the predecessors were visionary, he’s had no visions at all. Nevertheless, compared to them he’s much more widely known. And that is thanks to the Chinese invasion of Tibet. If that hadn’t taken place I’d have remained isolated on a throne in the Potala.”
His Holiness advised that if you feel that people are taking advantage of your love and compassion it’s acceptable to take appropriate measures. To do so is realistic. If you are too kind to children you spoil them. Therefore you have to employ compassion with wisdom and intelligence.
“India’s longstanding practices for developing a calmly abiding mind and insight (shamatha and vipashyana) are concerned with training the mind. This is what we need to do—train the mind—and in life after life the light of compassion is what survives.”
Deepak Lamba, President of Times Strategic Solutions presented mementoes to His Holiness and to Mahesh Bhatt as he thanked them for their participation. Members of the audience gathered on the steps to the stage to have photographs taken in groups with His Holiness, following which His Holiness left for his hotel.