Published: 02nd February 2021
Dalai Lama's Little Book of Encouragement asks people to unite during COVID-19 crisis
"The Little Book of Encouragement", which has 130 quotes, is edited by Renuka Singh and published by Penguin Random House
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama shares quotes and words of wisdom to deal with the new realities of the panic-stricken world along with how to combat rising extremism, polarity and climate change besides his views on Tibet in his new book.
"The Little Book of Encouragement", which has 130 quotes, is edited by Renuka Singh and published by Penguin Random House. The Dalai Lama says as one among the more than seven billion human beings alive today, he has made a commitment to promoting human happiness.
"We tend to think that happiness comes from money and power, without acknowledging the role of the mind or that the key to happiness is inner peace. We all want to live a happy life and to do so is our right. What we need to do is to cultivate inner values such as warm-heartedness and compassion. I am very happy to have had this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and experiences with readers," he says about the book.
He asks readers to discuss these thoughts with friends and, if possible, put them into practice in day-to-day life. On the pandemic, the Dalai Lama writes, "In this time of serious crisis, we face threats to our health, and feel sadness for the family and friends we have lost. Economic disruption is posing a major challenge to governments and undermining the ability of so many people to make a living. The crisis and its consequences serve as a warning-only by coming together in a coordinated global response, will we meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face. I pray we all heed the call to unite." He also terms climate change and global warming as another very serious issue. "Today, the pandemic is one threat we face. Another very serious issue is that of climate change and global warming. Scientists have predicted that if we don't act to stop it now, in the coming decades, water sources like rivers and lakes, may dry up. An additional problem that needs to be addressed is that of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. Tackling these difficult circumstances will require that we work together," he says.
He praises India's rich civilisational heritage, saying it is "rooted in the long-standing traditions of karuna and ahimsa: compassion and non-violence. I believe India is the only country with the potential to combine its ancient knowledge with its modern education. We must, therefore, endeavour to integrate India's ancient wisdom with contemporary approaches to schooling, with the aim of promoting positive human values".
On Sino-India ties, he writes, "India and China have developed a sense of competition in recent times. Both countries have populations of over a billion. Both of them are powerful nations, yet neither can destroy the other; so, they have to live side-by-side." On the Tibet issue, he writes, "I always tell Tibetans: it is much better to consider the Chinese as our brothers and sisters than to think of them as our enemy - no use in that. For the time being, there is a problem with our Chinese neighbours, but only with a few individuals in the Communist Party. A number of Chinese leaders now realise that their 70-year-old policy regarding Tibet is unrealistic. There was too much emphasis on the use of force then," he says, adding, "So now they are in a dilemma: how to deal with the Tibetan problem? Things seem to be changing."
The Dalai Lama further writes, "It is my vision to make my home country, Tibet, into the world's largest nature preserve. Following the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Tibet must and can become a demilitarised sanctuary of peace and nature." He says he has the karmic relationship to be in the role of the Dalai Lama and is at home with it.
"You may consider that, under the circumstances, I am very lucky. However, behind the word 'luck', there are actual causes or reasons. There is the karmic force of my ability to assume this role as well as the force of my wish to do so. Part of my daily prayer is this: 'As long as space exists, and as long as there are migrators in cyclic existence, may I remain to remove their sufferings'." He goes on to say that his death may well mark the "end of the great tradition of Dalai Lamas"; the word means 'great leader' in Tibetan.
"It may end with this great Lama. The Himalayan Buddhists of Tibet and Mongolia will decide what happens next. They will determine whether the 14th Dalai Lama has been reincarnated in another tulku. "What my followers decide is not an issue for me; I have no interest. My only hope is that when my last days come, I will still have my good name and will feel that I have made some contribution to humanity." According to Singh, though the spread of COVID-19 has given rise to uncertainties, unknown fears, anxieties, loneliness, and depression, nevertheless, it is an opportune moment to explore one's interiority.
"The Dalai Lama rightly points to our 'emotional hygiene' that helps the mind and heart to gain inner strength, peace, clarity, and happiness. His Holiness has always advocated the principle of interdependence and maintained that we are deeply connected by our humaneness which unites us all," she says.
Premanka Goswami, the editor at Penguin Press, feels these words of the Dalai Lama "wrapped in love, compassion and encouragement have the power to infuse fresh energy in the disease-stricken world".