The fundamental nature of human beings, the Dalai Lama suggests, is
gentleness. Science and philosophy like to portray humans as self-interested,
but many studies show that people like to be altruistic if
they get a chance (e.g., in disaster relief efforts). We may think of a
baby as the perfect example of humanity living only for its own physiological
needs, but another way to look at it is in terms of the joy that
babies give to those around them. When we see the world not as
aggressive but as basically compassionate, it is easy to see the evidence.
Compassion is useful. Rather than being sentimental, it is the basis
of communicating well between people. Echoing Dale Carnegie, the
Dalai Lama says that only by really seeing and feeling things from
another’s point of view will you truly be able to bond with them.
Compassion is not “feeling sorry for someone” but a recognition of
commonality—what someone else feels today might be what you
will be feeling next week.
The Dalai Lama is “never lonely.” The antidote to loneliness is to be
prepared to connect with anyone. Most people who consider themselves
lonely are surrounded by family and friends, yet they put all
their longings into the hope of finding that “special someone.” Open
your eyes to the wealth of people, he says, and loneliness can be a
thing of the past.
Distinguish between love based on attachment and love based on
compassion. All human beings want to be happy and avoid suffering;
instead of loving a person just so that they will love you back,
begin with seeing the commonality of the human condition and
what you can do to increase this particular person’s happiness.
If you fail to cultivate compassion, or the ability to feel the suffering
of others, you lose the sense of belonging to the human race that is
the source of warmth and inspiration. While feeling another’s pain
may not seem appealing, without it we set ourselves up for isolation.
While the ruthless person can never properly relax, the compassionate
person experiences freedom of mind and a rare peace.