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Quotes by His Holiness the Dalai lama

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Interesting fact from a non-Buddhist country:
In 2002, a poll by the German magazine ‘Geo Wissen’ placed the Dalai Lama on the top of the list of personalities admired most by Germans."


I tried to organise the quotes below into a few categories
Love, compassion & kindness
Violence & anger
Transforming the mind
The Environment
Various Subjects

Love, compassion & kindness

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.

I myself feel, and also tell other Buddhists that the question of Nirvana will come later.
There is not much hurry.
If in day to day life you lead a good life, honesty, with love, with compassion, with less selfishness, then automatically it will lead to Nirvana.

If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.

We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are "news"; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and , therefore, largely ignored.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason.

Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquillity and happiness we all seek.

I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.

We must recognise that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. That the happiness of one person or nation is the happiness of humanity.

Under the bright sun, many of us are gathered together with different languages, different styles of dress, even different faiths. However, all of us are the same in being humans, and we all uniquely have the thought of "I," and we´re all the same in wanting happiness and in wanting to avoid suffering.

True compassion is universal in scope. It is accompanied by a feeling of responsibility.

When we are young and again when we are old, we depend heavily on the affection of others. Between these stages we usually feel that we can do everything without help from others and that other people´s affection is simply not important. But at this stage I think it is very important to keep deep human affection.

It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. There are two aspects to action. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefitting others, one needs to be engaged, involved.

Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents, and then later on in our life when we are oppressed by sickness and become old, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on other´s kindness, how can it be in the middle that we would neglect kindness towards others?

Whether someone believes something or not, believer or non-believer, as long as you are a member of the human family, you need warm human feeling, warmhearted feeling. The question of world peace, the question of family peace, the question of peace between wife and husband, or peace between parents and children, everything is dependent on that feeling of love and warmheartedness.

A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.

I would like to explain the meaning of compassion which is often misunderstood. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the rights of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop a genuine concern for his or her problems. This is genuine compassion. Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion. This is not compassion; it is attachment. Even in marriage, those marriages that last only a short time, do so because of attachment - although it is generally present - but because there is also compassion. Marriages that last only a short time do so because of a lack of compassion; there is only emotional attachment based on projection and expectation. When the only bond between close friends is attachment, then even a minor issue may cause one´s projections to change. As soon as our projections change, the attachment disappears, because that attachment was based solely on projection and expectation. It is possible to have compassion without attachement, and similarly, to have anger without hatred. Therefore we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment, and between anger and hatred. Such clarity is useful in our daily life and in our efforts toward world peace. I consider these to be basic spiritual values for the happness of all human beings, regardless of whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.

The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.

We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

At the heart of Buddhist philosophy is the notion of compassion for others. It should be noted that the compassion encouraged by Mahayana Buddhism is not the usual love one has for friends or family. The love being advocated here is the kind one can have even for another who has done one harm. Developing a kind heart does not always involve any of the sentimental religiosity normally associated with it. It is not just for people who believe in religions; it is for everyone who considers himself or herself to be a member of the human family, and thus sees things in accordingly large terms.

The rationale for universal compassion is based on the same principle of spiritual democracy. It is the recognition of the fact that every living being has an equal right to and desire for happiness. The true acceptance of the principle of democracy requires that we think and act in terms of the common good. Compassion and universal responsibility require a commitment to personal sacrifice and the neglect of egotistical desires.

Violence & anger

Through violence, you may 'solve' one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.

War is out of date, obsolete.

When the days become longer and there is more sunshine, the grass becomes fresh and, consequently, we feel very happy. On the other hand, in autumn, one leaf falls down and another leaf falls down. The beautiful plants become as if dead and we do not feel very happy. Why? I think it is because deep down our human nature likes construction, and does not like destruction. Naturally, every action which is destructive is against human nature. Constructiveness is the human way. Therefore, I think that in terms of basic human feeling, violence is not good. Non-violence is the only way.



The universe that we inhabit and our shared perception of it are the results of a common karma. Likewise, the places that we will experience in future rebirths will be the outcome of the karma that we share with the other beings living there. The actions of each of us, human or nonhuman, have contributed to the world in which we live. We all have a common responsibility for our world and are connected with everything in it.

Anything that contradicts experience and logic should be abandoned.

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

I believe our every-day experience confirms that a self-centred attitude towards problems can be destructive not only towards society, but to the individual as well. Selfishness does not solve problems for us, it multiplies them. Accepting responsibility and maintaining respect for other will leave all concerned at peace. This is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism.

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.

Basically, universal responsibility is the feeling for other people´s suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our own enemy is motivated by the quest for happiness. We must recognize that all beings want the same thing we want. This is the way to achieve a true understanding, unfettered by artificial consideration.

If you must be selfish, then be wise and not narrow-minded in your selfishness. The key point lies in the sense of universal responsibility. That is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness. If we exploit everything available, such as trees, water and minerals, and if we don´t plan for our next generation, for the future, then we´re at fault, aren´t we? However, if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relations with the environment, and with all our neighbours, will be well balanced.

As human brothers and sisters, I have a feeling that deep down we are all the same human beings. Therefore, it is quite natural that when some human brothers and sisters suffer, then other brothers and sisters spontaneously develop some kind of sincere feeling or concern. At this moment I find this very much alive. I consider this a hope for the future.

As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it.

Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.

All People and things are interdependent. The world has become so small that no nation can solve its problems alone, in isolation from others. That is why I believe we must all cultivate a sense of responsibility based on love and compassion for each other.

We must therefore develop a sense of responsibility for each others condition, we must see that hurting someone else, or inflicting pain on other people , cannot bring happiness or peace of mind.

Transforming the mind

Spend some time alone every day.

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.

In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.

The underlying principle of this teaching is the universal principle of causality. What becomes important in the understanding of this basic teaching is a genuine awareness of one´s own potentials and the need to utilize them to their fullest. Seen in this light, every human action becomes significant.

In order to encourage in such practices as taking refuge, living a way of life which accords with the law of karma, and living in an ethically disciplined way characterized by observance of the ten virtues, and so on, we require a tremendous sense of confidence that we can do it. To generate that, and also a kind of enthusiasm, we find in the Buddha´s texts a discussion of the preciousness of the human body and human existence. At that stage, we never talk about how impure the body and bodily substances are, or how imperfect they are. In fact, we are talking about how good it is, how meaningful, how purposeful, how much potential lies within our body, what good purpose it can be used for, and so on. This is to instill a sense of confidence and courage.

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.

When you think everything is someone else´s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy. Pride leads to violence and evil. The truly good gaze upon everything with love and understanding.

If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.M Do not think only of your own joy, but vow to save all beings from suffering. This is sharing in its highest form and purity beyond all poisons of this world.

It is easy to point out the mistakes of others, while it is hard to admit one´s own mistakes. A man broadcasts the sins of others without thinking, but he hides his own sins as a gambler hides his extra dice.

A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals the secret of some hidden treasure.

For discovering one´s true inner nature, I think one should try to take out some time, with quiet and relaxation, to think more inwardly and to investigate the inner world. That may help. Then when one is very much involved in hatred or attachment, if there is time or possibility during that very moment, just try to look inward and ask: "What is attachment? What is the nature of anger?"

Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer.M Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

One who is caught in thought loses one´s original nature. All he knows are words and descriptions, when he sees the actual thing, he fails to perceive it.

 To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.

A great rock is not disturbed by the wind; the mind of a wise man is not disturbed by either honor or abuse.

There is a saying in Tibetan, "Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength."
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.

One has to try to develop one's inner feelings, which can be done simply by training one's mind.
This is a priceless human asset and one you don't have to pay income tax on!

First one must change.
I first watch myself, check myself, then expect changes from others.

It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.

To develop genuine devotion, you must know the meaning of teachings. The main emphasis in Buddhism is to transform the mind, and this transformation depends upon meditation. in order to meditate correctly, you must have knowledge.

The fundamental philosophical principle of Buddhism is that all our suffering comes about as a result of an undisciplined mind, and this untamed mind itself comes about because of ignorance and negative emotions. For the Buddhist practitioner then, regardless of whether he or she follows the approach of the Fundamental Vehicle, Mahayana or Vajrayana, negative emotions are always the true enemy, a factor that has to be overcome and eliminated. And it is only by applying methods for training the mind that these negative emotions can be dispelled and eliminated. This is why in Buddhist writings and teachings we find such an extensive explanation of the mind and its different processes and functions. Since these negative emotions are states of mind, the method or technique for overcoming them must be developed from within. There is no alternative. They cannot be removed by some external technique, like a surgical operation.

So, the tendency of our childish nature is to take small things too seriously and get easily offended, whereas when we are confronted with situations which have long-term consequences, we tend to take things less seriously

Encountering sufferings will definitely contribute to the elevation of your spiritual practice, provided you are able to transform calamity and misfortune into the path.

From one point of view we can say that we have human bodies and are practicing the Buddha's teachings and are thus much better than insects. But we can also say that insects are innocent and free from guile, where as we often lie and misrepresent ourselves in devious ways in order to achieve our ends or better ourselves. From this perspective, we are much worse than insects.

In Buddhism, both learning and practice are extremely important, and they must go hand in hand. Without knowledge, just to rely on faith, faith, and more faith is good but not sufficient. So the intellectual part must definitely be present. At the same time, strictly intellectual development without faith and practice, is also of no use. It is necessary to combine knowledge born from study with sincere practice in our daily lives. These two must go together.

The Environment

Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it. It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past that resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.

As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it.

Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth´s living things.

This lack of respect extends even to the earth´s human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.

Our beautiful world is facing many crises.... It is not a time to pretend everything´s good.

Many of the earth´s habitats, animals, plants, insects and even micro-organisms that we know to be rare may not be known at all by future generations. We have the capability and the responsibility to act; we must do so before it is too late.

Just as we should cultivate gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.

This, however, is not just a question of morality or ethics, but a question of our own survival. For this generation and for future generations, the environment is very important. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, we will suffer, as will our future generations. When the environment changes, the climatic condition also changes. When the climate changes dramatically, the economy and many other things change. Our physical health will be greatly affected. Again, conservation is not merely a question of morality, but a question of our own survival.

Therefore, in order to achieve more effective environmental protection and conservation, internal balance within the human being himself or herself is essential. The negligence of the environment, which has resulted in great harm to the human community, resulted from our ignorance of the very special importance of the environment. We must now help people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people that conservation directly aids our survival.

We are all here on this planet, as it were, as tourists. None of us can live here forever. The longest we might live is a hundred years. So while we are here we should try to have a good heart and to make something positive and useful of our lives. Whether we live just a few years or a whole century, it would be truly regrettable and sad if we were to spend that time aggravating the problems that afflict other people, animals, and the environment. The most important thing is to be a good human being.

Various subjects

When ever Buddhism has taken root in a new land, there has been a certain variation in the style in which it is observed. The Buddha himself taught differently according to the place, the occasion and the situation of those who were listening to him.

Samsara-our conditioned existence in the perpetual cycle of habitual tendencies and nirvana - genuine freedom from such an existence- are nothing but different manifestations of a basic continuum. So this continuity of consciousness us always present. This is the meaning of tantra.

According to Buddhist practice, there are three stages or steps. The initial stage is to reduce attachment towards life.
The second stage is the elimination of desire and attachment to this samsara. Then in the third stage, self-cherishing is eliminated

The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.


A spoon cannot taste of the food it carries. Likewise, a foolish man cannot understand the wise man´s wisdom even if he associates with a sage.

Not to identify oneself with something, or to associate things with the "me," and to see that the idea that there is a "me" which is distinct from things is a delusion - that is true wisdom.

Whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, whatever our nationality, color, social status, or ideology may be, the purpose of our lives is to be happy.

Every man has the basis of good. Not only human beings, you can find it among animals and insects, for instance, when we treat a dog or horse lovingly.

Don´t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.

What is the Bodhisattva´s way of life? It is the way of life that follows naturally from having cultivated the awakening mind of bodhicitta. Omniscience is achieved only through the process of purifying the disturbing emotions within your mind. It cannot be achieved merely through wishes and prayers. We have to train in eliminating all the specific disturbing emotions within our mind. We have to train in eliminating all the specific disturbing emotions by relying on specific antidotes. All the activities of a Bodhisattva can be included in two major categories: the practice of skillful means and the practice of wisdom. If the practices of giving, ethics, and so forth are to be perfected, they should be supported and influenced by the practice of wisdom. Without the practice of wisdom, the first five of the six perfections cannot actually become practices of perfection.

It is our custom to say that someone is "lucky" or "unlucky" if they meet with fortunate or unfortunate circumstances, respectively. It is, however, too simplistic to think in terms of random "luck." Even from a scientific point of view, this is not a sufficient explanation. Should something unfortunate happen, we immediately think, "Oh, how unlucky!" And yet this is not sufficient to explain what happened- there must be a cause. We seem to call "luck" that factor which overrides external conditions to bring about a positive situation. But that too is a cause; it is an inner cause, which we call "merit".

Buddha-Nature exists in everyone no matter how deeply it may be covered over by greed, anger and foolishness, or buried by his own deeds and retribution. Buddha-Nature can not be lost or destroyed; and when all defilements are removed, sooner or later it will reappear.

Wisdom is the best guide and faith is the best companion. One must try to escape from the darkness of ignorance and suffering, and seek the light of Enlightenment.

Since form (phenomena) is emptiness and emptiness is form, then instead of a hand grasping at nothing, it is better to grasp at someone´s nose because this is closer to reality.

I love friends, I want more friends. I love smiles. That is a fact. How to develop smiles? There are a variety of smiles. Some smiles are sarcastic. Some smiles are artificial-diplomatic smiles. These smiles do not produce satisfaction, but rather fear or suspicion. But a genuine smile gives us hope, freshness. If we want a genuine smile, then first we must produce the basis for a smile to come.

I believe in justice and truth, without which there would be no basis for human hope.

Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something,
and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.

Last updated: September 23, 2006

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