Learning about Love: Day 50 – Teachings from the Dalai Lama

English: Ursula Goodenough with His Holiness t...

English: Ursula Goodenough with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, ASCB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m learning about love and compassion from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In addition, I’m reading a book titled, “Owning Your Own Shadow”, author, Robert A. Johnson (1991).  I plan to outline some of the ideas explored by Johnson who is an acclaimed Jungian analyst and best selling author in a future post.

It will be interesting to see how the two topics meld, or not.

By the way, the reason I’m reading the shadow book is to fulfill a requirement to write a reflection paper on the topic of Psychology and Spirituality for a year long spiritual deepening program I enrolled in last June.

I am thrilled to participate in the program because it’s exactly what I was looking for; a focused way to deepen my spiritual journey. The program began in June with a five-day retreat which was phenomenal. It will end next June with a four-day retreat and in between we have a number of requirements to fulfill. I may write about it in more detail in a later post.

To get back to the Dalai Lama teachings, I’ll recap a few points from last post;

  • The purpose of life is to be happy.
  • We achieve happiness through mental peace.
  • Mental peace comes from the development of love and compassion.
  • Love and compassion is developed through caring for the happiness of others and cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others.
  • Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is, we are interdependent with one another.
  • Mutual cooperation is evident in nature.
  • When babies and children are raised in unhappy homes where affection, cuddling and love are withheld they have impaired development and lack the ability for love.
  • “the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.” Dalai Lama

The preceding points are summed up by the following statement from His Holiness;

“It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.”

If interdependence is a fundamental law of nature, then why do many of us live isolated from others with an emphasis on self-reliance and self-sufficiency?

“Recently I met a group of scientists in America who said that the rate of mental illness in their country was quite high-around twelve percent of the population. It became clear during our discussion that the main cause of depression was not a lack of material necessities but a deprivation of the affection of the others.”

Do we as a society refrain from the display of human affection in our daily life?

“whether or not we are consciously aware of it, from the day we are born, the need for human affection is in our very blood. Even if the affection comes from an animal or someone we would normally consider an enemy, both children and adults will naturally gravitate towards it.”

What are some obstacles to the development of compassion?

  • “we all have an innate self-centeredness that inhibits our love for others.”
  • “Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.”
  • “love (that is) motivated more by personal need than by genuine care for the other individual.”

What exactly is compassion?

“True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.”

Wow! It seems to me, from reading this, that it takes a high degree of awareness to consistently demonstrate love and compassion in all affairs.

The next post will address how to accomplish this task.

Source: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet website.