Quotes from Dalai Lama

"In many of these discussions, the Dalai Lama's primary method of overcoming anger and hatred involved the use of reasoning and analysis to investigate the causes of anger, to combat these harmful mental states through understanding. In a sense, this approach can be seen as using logic to neutralize anger and hatred and to cultivate the antidotes of patience and tolerance. But that wasn't his only technique. In his public talks he supplemented his discussion by presenting instruction on these two simple yet effective meditations to help overcome anger. Meditation on Anger: Exercise 1 "Let us imagine a scenario in which someone who you know very well, someone who is close or dear to you, is in a situation in which he or she loses his or her temper. You can imagine this occurring either in a very acrimonious relationship or in a situation in which something personally upsetting is happening. The person is so angry that he or she has lost all his or her mental composure, creating very negative vibrations, even going to the extent of beating himself or herself up or breaking things. "Then, reflect upon the immediate effects of the person's rage. You'll see a physical transformation happening to that person. This person whom you feel close to, whom you like, the very sight of whom gave you pleasure in the past, now turns into this ugly person, even physically speaking. The reason why I think you should visualize this happening to someone else is because it is easier to see the faults of others than to see your own faults. So, using your imagination, do this meditation and visualization for a few minutes. "At the end of that visualization, analyze the situation and relate the circumstances to your own experience. See that you yourself have been in this state many times. Resolve that 'I shall never let myself fall under the sway of such intense anger and hatred, because if I do that, I will be in the same position. I will also suffer all these consequences, lose my peace of mind, lose my composure, assume this ugly physical appearance,' and so on. So once you make that decision, then for the last few minutes of the meditation focus your mind on that conclusion; without further analysis, simply let your mind remain on your resolution not to fall under the influence of anger and hatred.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

In identifying one's mental state as the prime factor in achieving happiness, of course that doesn't deny that our basic physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter must be met. But once these basic needs are met, the message is clear: we don't need more money, we don't need greater success or fame, we don't need the perfect body or even the perfect mate—right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness. In ...

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

The psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm claimed that humankind's most basic fear is the threat of being separated from other humans. He believed that the experience of separateness, first encountered in infancy, is the source of all anxiety in human life. John Bowlby agreed, citing a good deal of experimental evidence and research to support the idea that separation from one's caregivers—usually the mother or father—during the latter part of the first year of life inevitably creates fear and sadness in babies. He feels that separation and interpersonal loss are at the very roots of the human experiences of fear, sadness, and sorrow.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

So, how can we achieve inner contentment? There are two methods. One method is to obtain everything that we want and desire—all the money, houses, and cars; the perfect mate; and the perfect body. The Dalai Lama has already pointed out the disadvantage of this approach; if our wants and desires remain unchecked, sooner or later we will run up against something that we want but can't have. The second, and more reliable, method is not to have what we want but rather to want and appreciate what we have.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow an openness with other people. It creates a positive, friendly atmosphere. With that attitude, you can approach a relationship in which you, yourself, initially create the possibility of receiving affection or a positive response from the other person. And with that attitude, even if the other person is unfriendly or doesn't respond to you in a positive way, then at least you've approached the person with a feeling of openness that gives you a certain flexibility and the freedom to change your approach as needed.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

PART TWO FACING DEATH AND DYING The issue of facing death in a peaceful manner is a very difficult one. According to common sense, there seem to be two ways of dealing with the problem and the suffering. The first is simply to try to avoid the problem, to put it out of your mind, even though the reality of that problem is still there and it is not minimized. Another way of dealing with this issue is to look directly at the problem and analyse it, make it familiar to you and make it clear that it is a part of all our lives. Illness happens. It is not something exceptional; it is part of nature and a fact of life. Of course we have every right to avoid illness and pain, but in spite of that effort, when illness happens it is better to accept it. While you should make every effort to cure it as soon as possible, you should have no extra mental burden. As the great Indian scholar Shantideva has said: 'If there is a way to overcome the suffering, then there is no need to worry; if there is no way to overcome the suffering, then there is no use in worrying.' That kind of rational attitude is quite useful. Death is a part of all our lives. Whether we like it or not, it is bound to happen. Instead of avoiding thinking about it, it is better to understand its meaning. We all have the same body, the same human flesh, and therefore we will all die. There is a big difference, of course, between natural death and accidental death, but basically death will come sooner or later. If from the beginning your attitude is, 'Yes, death is part of our lives', then it may be easier to face.

Dalai Lama

from The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom

Everyday we are faced with numerous decisions and choices. And try as we may, we often don't choose the thing that we know is "good for us." Part of this is related to the fact that the "right choice" is often the difficult one—the one that involves some sacrifice of our pleasure. In every century, men and women have struggled with trying to define the proper role that pleasure should play in their lives—a legion of philosophers, theologists, and psychologists, all exploring our relationship with pleasure.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

This ability to change the brain's wiring, to grow new neural connections, has been demonstrated in experiments such as one conducted by Doctors Avi Karni and Leslie Underleider at the National Institutes of Mental Health. In that experiment, the researchers had subjects perform a simple motor task, a finger-tapping exercise, and identified the parts of the brain involved in the task by taking a MRI brain scan. The subjects then practiced the finger exercise daily for four weeks, gradually becoming more efficient and quicker at it. At the end of the four-week period, the brain scan was repeated and showed that the area of the brain involved in the task had expanded; this indicated that the regular practice and repetition of the task had recruited new nerve cells and changed the neural connections that had originally been involved in the task.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

When our attitude towards our material possessions and wealth is not proper, it can lead to an extreme attachment towards such things as our property, houses and belongings. This can lead to an inability to feel contented. If that happens, then one will always remain in a state of dissatisfaction, always wanting more. In a way, one is then really poor, because the suffering of poverty is the suffering of wanting something and feeling the lack of it.

Dalai Lama

from The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom

If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. In other words, if there is a solution or a way out of the difficulty, then one needn't be overwhelmed by it. The appropriate action is to seek its solution. It is more sensible to spend the energy focusing on the solution rather than worrying about the problem. Alternatively, if there is no way out, no solution, no Possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you can't do anything about it anyway. In that case, the sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be on you. This formula, of course, implies directly confronting the problem. Otherwise you won't be able to find out whether or not there is a resolution to the problem.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

One problem with our current society is that we have an attitude towards education as if it is there to simply make you more clever, make you more ingenious. Sometimes it even seems as if those who are not highly educated, those who are less sophisticated in terms of their educational training, are more innocent and more honest. Even though our society does not emphasize this, the most important use of knowledge and education is to help us understand the importance of engaging in more wholesome actions and bringing about discipline within our minds. The proper utilization of our intelligence and knowledge is to effect changes from within to develop a good heart.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Imagine what it would be like if we went through life never encountering an enemy, or any other obstacles for that matter, if from the cradle to the grave everyone we met pampered us, held us, hand fed us (soft bland food, easy to digest), amused us with funny faces and the occasional 'goo-goo' noise. If from infancy we were carried around in a basket (later on, perhaps on a litter), never encountering any challenge, never tested—in short, if everyone continued to treat us like a baby. That might sound good at first. For the first few months of life it might be appropriate. But if it persisted it could only result in one becoming a sort of gelatinous mass, a monstrosity really—with the mental and emotional development of veal. It's the very struggle of life that makes us who we are. And it is our enemies that test us, provide us with the resistance necessary for growth.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

If you think only of yourself, if you forget the rights and well-being of others, or, worse still, if you exploit others, ultimately you will lose. You will have no friends who will show concern for your well-being. Moreover, if a tragedy befalls you, instead of feeling concerned, others might even secretly rejoice. By contrast, if an individual is compassionate and altruistic, and has the interests of others in mind, then irrespective of whether that person knows a lot of people, wherever that person moves, he or she will immediately make friends. And when that person faces a tragedy, there will be plenty of people who will come to help.

Dalai Lama

from The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom

No matter what activity or practice we are pursuing, there isn't anything that isn't made easier through constant familiarity and training. Through training, we can change; we can transform ourselves. Within Buddhist practice there are various methods of trying to sustain a calm mind when some disturbing event happens. Through repeated practice of these methods we can get to the point where some disturbance may occur but the negative effects on our mind remain on the surface, like the waves that may ripple on the surface of an ocean but don't have much effect deep down. And, although my own experience may be very little, I have found this to be true in my own small practice. So, if I receive some tragic news, at that moment I may experience some disturbance within my mind, but it goes very quickly. Or, I may become irritated and develop some anger, but again, it dissipates very quickly. There is no effect on the deeper mind. No hatred. This was achieved through gradual practice; it didn't happen overnight.'Certainly not. The Dalai Lama has been engaged in training his mind since he was four years old.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

I think that this is the first time I am meeting most of you. But to me, whether it is an old friend or new friend, there's not much difference anyway, because I always believe we are the same; we are all human beings. Of course, there may be differences in cultural background or way of life, there may be differences in our faith, or we may be of a different color, but we are human beings, consisting of the human body and the human mind. Our physical structure is the same, and our mind and our emotional nature are also the same. Wherever I meet people, I always have the feeling that I am encountering another human being, just like myself. I find it is much easier to communicate with others on that level. If we emphasize specific characteristics, like I am Tibetan or I am Buddhist, then there are differences. But those things are secondary. If we can leave the differences aside, I think we can easily communicate, exchange ideas, and share experiences.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Generally speaking, you can have two different types of individuals. On the one hand, you can have a wealthy, successful person, surrounded by relatives and so on. If that person's source of dignity and sense of worth is only material, then so long as his fortune remains, maybe that person can sustain a sense of security. But the moment the fortune wanes, the person will suffer because there is no other refuge. On the other hand, you can have another person enjoying similar economic status and financial success, but at the same time, that person is warm and affectionate and has a feeling of compassion. Because that person has another source of worth, another source that gives him or her a sense of dignity, another anchor, there is less chance of that person's becoming depressed if his or her fortune happens to disappear. Through this type of reasoning you can see the very practical value of human warmth and affection in developing an inner sense of worth.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

In identifying one's mental state as the prime factor in achieving happiness, of course that doesn't deny that our basic physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter must be met. But once these basic needs are met, the message is clear: we don't need more money, we don't need greater success or fame, we don't need the perfect body or even the perfect mate—right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

One of the positive side-effects of maintaining a very high degree of awareness of death is that it will prepare the individual to such an extent that, when the individual actually faces death, he or she will be in a better position to maintain his or her presence of mind. Especially in Tantric Buddhism, it is considered that the state of mind which one experiences at the point of death is extremely subtle and, because of the subtlety of the level of that consciousness, it also has a great power and impact upon one's mental continuum. In Tantric practices we find a lot of emphasis placed on reflections upon the process of death, so that the individual at the time of death not only retains his or her presence of mind, but also is in a position to utilize that subtle state of consciousness effectively towards the realization of the path. From the Tantric perspective, the entire process of existence is explained in terms of the three stages known as 'death', the 'intermediate state' and 'rebirth'. All of these three stages of existence are seen as states or manifestations of the consciousness and the energies that accompany or propel the consciousness, so that the intermediate state and rebirth are nothing other than various levels of the subtle consciousness and energy. An example of such fluctuating states can be found in our daily existence, when during the 24-hour day we go through a cycle of deep sleep, the waking period and the dream state. Our daily existence is in fact characterized by these three stages. As death becomes something familiar to you, as you have some knowledge of its processes and can recognize its external and internal indications, you are prepared for it. According to my own experience, I still have no confidence that at the moment of death I will really implement all these practices for which I have prepared. I have no guarantee! Sometimes when I think about death I get some kind of excitement. Instead of fear, I have a feeling of curiosity and this makes it much easier for me to accept death. Of course, my only burden if I die today is, 'Oh, what will happen to Tibet? What about Tibetan culture? What about the six million Tibetan people's rights?' This is my main concern. Otherwise, I feel almost no fear of death. In my daily practice of prayer I visualize eight different deity yogas and eight different deaths. Perhaps when death comes all my preparation may fail. I hope not! I think these practices are mentally very helpful in dealing with death. Even if there is no next life, there is some benefit if they relieve fear. And because there is less fear, one can be more fully prepared. If you are fully prepared then, at the moment of death, you can retain your peace of mind. I think at the time of death a peaceful mind is essential no matter what you believe in, whether it is Buddhism or some other religion. At the moment of death, the individual should not seek to develop anger, hatred and so on. I think even non-believers see that it is better to pass away in a peaceful manner, it is much happier. Also, for those who believe in heaven or some other concept, it is also best to pass away peacefully with the thought of one's own God or belief in higher forces. For Buddhists and also other ancient Indian traditions, which accept the rebirth or karma theory, naturally at the time of death a virtuous state of mind is beneficial.

Dalai Lama

from The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom

But I think that as time goes on, you can make positive changes. Everyday as soon as you get up, you can develop a sincere positive motivation, thinking, 'I will utilize this day in a more positive way. I should not waste this very day.' And then, at night before bed, check what you've done, asking yourself, 'Did I utilize this day as I planned?' If it went accordingly, then you should rejoice. If it went wrong, then regret what you did and critique the day. So, through methods such as this, you can gradually strengthen the positive aspects of the mind.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

"There's really no avoiding the fact that suffering is part of life. And of course we have a natural tendency to dislike our suffering and problems. But I think that ordinarily people don't view the very nature of our existence to be characterized by suffering ..." The Dalai Lama suddenly began to laugh, "I mean on your birthday people usually say, 'Happy Birthday!,' when actually the day of your birth was the birth of your suffering. But nobody says, 'Happy Birth-of-Sufferingday!" he joked.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

There is an incredible diversity among human lives, infinite variations among people with respect to how they can experience a sense of closeness. This realization alone offers us a great opportunity. It means that at this very moment we have vast resources of intimacy available to us. Intimacy is all around us. Today, so many of us are oppressed by a feeling of something missing in our lives, intensely suffering from a lack of intimacy. This is particularly true when we go through the inevitable periods in our life when we're not involved in a romantic relationship or when the passion wanes from a relationship. There's a widespread notion in our culture that deep intimacy is best achieved within the context of a passionate romantic relationship—that Special Someone who we set apart from all others. This can be a profoundly limiting viewpoint, cutting us off from other potential sources of intimacy, and the cause of much misery and unhappiness when that Special Someone isn't there. But we have within our power the means to avoid this; we need only courageously expand our concept of intimacy to include all the other forms that surround us on a daily basis. By broadening our definition of intimacy, we open ourselves to discovering many new and equally satisfying ways of connecting with others.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

"Generally speaking, our mind is predominantly directed towards external objects. Our attention follows after the sense experiences. It remains at a predominantly sensory and conceptual level. In other words, normally our awareness is directed towards physical sensory experiences and mental concepts. But in this exercise, what you should do is to withdraw your mind inward; don't let it chase after or pay attention to sensory objects. At the same time, don't allow it to be so totally withdrawn that there is a kind of dullness or lack of mindfulness. You should maintain a very full state of alertness and mindfulness, and then try to see the natural state of your consciousness—a state in which your consciousness is not afflicted by thoughts of the past, the things that have happened, your memories and remembrances; nor is it afflicted by thoughts of the future, like your future plans, anticipations, fears, and hopes. But rather, try to remain in a natural and neutral state."This is a bit like a river that is flowing quite strongly, in which you cannot see the riverbed very clearly. If, however, there was some way you could stop the flow in both directions, from where the water is coming and to where thewater is flowing, then you could keep the water still. That would allow you to see the base of the river quite clearly. Similarly, when you are able to stop your mind from chasing sensory objects and thinking about the past and future and so on, and when you can free your mind from being totally 'blanked out' as well, then you will begin to see underneath this turbulence of the thought processes. There is an underlying stillness, an underlying clarity of the mind. You should try to observe or experience this ...

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

We can see that there are many ways in which we actively contribute to our own experience of mental unrest and suffering. Although, in general, mental and emotional afflictions themselves can come naturally, often it is our own reinforcement of those negative emotions that makes them so much worse. For instance when we have anger or hatred towards a person, there is less likelihood of its developing to a very intense degree if we leave it unattended.However, if we think about the projected injustices done to us, the ways in which we have been unfairly treated, and we keep on thinking about them over and over, then that feeds the hatred. It makes the hatred very powerful and intense. Of course, the same can apply to when we have an attachment towards a particular person; we can feed that by thinking about how beautiful he or she is, and as we keep thinking about the projected qualities that we see in the person, the attachment becomes more and more intense. But this shows how through constant familiarity and thinking, we ourselves can make our emotions more intense and powerful.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it's often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

This ability to change the brain's wiring, to grow new neural connections, has been demonstrated in experiments such as one conducted by Doctors Avi Karni and Leslie Underleider at the National Institutes of Mental Health. In that experiment, the researchers had subjects perform a simple motor task, a finger-tapping exercise, and identified the parts of the brain involved in the task by taking a MRI brain scan. The subjects then practiced the finger exercise daily for four weeks, gradually becoming more efficient and quicker at it. At the end of the four-week period, the brain scan was repeated and showed that the area of the brain involved in the task had expanded; this indicated that the regular practice and repetition of the task had recruited new nerve cells and changed the neural connections that had originally been involved in the task. This remarkable feature of the brain appears to be the physiological basis for the possibility of transforming our minds. By mobilizing our thoughts and practicing new ways of thinking, we can reshape our nerve cells and change the way our brains work. It is also the basis for the idea that inner transformation begins with learning (new input) and involves the discipline of gradually replacing our "negative conditioning" (corresponding with our present characteristic nerve cell activation patterns) with "positive conditioning" (forming new neural circuits). Thus, the idea of training the mind for happiness becomes a very real possibility.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Since patience or tolerance comes from an ability to remain firm and steadfast and not be overwhelmed by the adverse situations or conditions that one faces, one should not see tolerance or patience as a sign of weakness, or giving in, but rather as a sign of strength, coming from a deep ability to remain firm. Responding to a trying situation with patience and tolerance rather than reacting with anger and hatred involves active restraint, which comes from a strong, self-disciplined mind.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we've utilized our time properly or not. Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every minute is something precious. Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time. I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.So, let us reflect what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren't born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Shaking his head, the Dalai Lama replied, "Even in conventional terms, in our everyday life, we consider education as a very important factor for ensuring a successful and happy life. And knowledge does not come by naturally. We have to train; we have to go through a kind of systematic training program and so forth. And we consider this conventional education and training to be quite hard; otherwise why would students look forward so much to vacations? Still, we know that this type of education is quite vital for ensuring a happy and successful life. "In the same way, doing wholesome deeds may not come naturally, but we have to consciously train towards it.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we've utilized our time properly or not. Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every minute is something precious. Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But still we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time. I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly emphasized that inner discipline is the basis of a spiritual life. It is the fundamental method of achieving happiness. As he explained throughout this book, from his perspective inner discipline involves combating negative states of mind such as anger, hatred, and greed, and cultivating positive states such as kindness, compassion, and tolerance. He also has pointed out that a happy life is built on a foundation of a calm, stable state of mind.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Our days are numbered. At this very moment, many thousands are born into the world, some destined to live only a few days or weeks, and then tragically succumb to illness or other misfortune. Others are destined to push through to the century mark, perhaps even a bit beyond, and savor every taste life has to offer: triumph, despair, joy, hatred, and love. We never know. But whether we live a day or a century, a central question always remains: What is the purpose of our life? What makes our lives meaningful? ...

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

But isn't a life based on seeking personal happiness by nature self-centered, even self-indulgent? Not necessarily. In fact, survey after survey has shown that it is unhappy people who tend to be most self-focused and are often socially withdrawn, brooding, and even antagonistic. Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life's daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. And, most important, they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Whenever I associate with someone, may I think myself the lowest among all and hold the other supreme in the depth of my heart! ... When Isee beings of wicked nature, pressed by violent sin and affliction, may I hold these rare ones dear as if I had found a precious treasure! ... When others, out of envy, treat me badly with abuse, slander and the like, may I suffer the defeat and offer the victory to others! ... When the one, whom I have benefited with great hope, hurts me very badly, may I behold him as my supreme Guru! In short may I, directly and indirectly, offer benefit and happiness to all beings; may I secretly take upon myself the harm and suffering of all beings! ...

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Although my own experience may be very little, one thing that I can say for certain is that I feel that through Buddhist training, I feel that my mind has become much more calm. That's definite. Although the change has come about gradually, perhaps centimeter by centimeter," he laughed, "I think that there has been a change in my attitude towards myself and others. Although it's difficult to point to the precise causes of this change, I think that it has been influenced by a realization, not full realization, but a certain feeling or sense of the underlying fundamental nature of reality, and also through contemplating subjects such as impermanence, our suffering nature, and the value of compassion and altruism.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Rather, genuine compassion is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself. And, just like myself, they have the natural right to fulfill this fundamental aspiration. On the basis of the recognition of this equality and commonality, you develop a sense of affinity and closeness with others. With this as a foundation, you can feel compassion regardless of whether you view the other person as a friend or an enemy. It is based on the other's fundamental rights rather than your own mental projection. Upon this basis, then, you will generate love and compassion. That's genuine compassion.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

Fortunately, however, during times of comparative ease, periods before or after acute experiences of suffering, we can reflect on suffering, seeking to develop an understanding of its meaning. And the time and effort we spend searching for meaning in suffering will pay great rewards when bad things begin to strike. But in order to reap those rewards, we must begin our search for meaning when things are going well. A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can't grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon. So ...

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness

It seems that often when problems arise, our outlook becomes narrow. All of our attention may be focused on worrying about the problem, and we may have a sense that we're the only one that is going through such difficulties. This can lead to a kind of self-absorption that can make the problem seem very intense. When this happens, I think that seeing things from a wider perspective can definitely help—realizing, for instance, that there are many other people who have gone through similar experiences, and even worse experiences. This practice of shifting perspective can even be helpful in certain illnesses or when in pain. At the time the pain arises it is of course often very difficult, at that moment, to do formal meditation practices to calm the mind. But if you can make comparisons, view your situation from a different perspective, somehow something happens. If you only look at that one event, then it appears bigger and bigger. If you focus too closely, too intensely, on a problem when it occurs, it appears uncontrollable. But if you compare that event with some other greater event, look at the same problem from a distance, then it appears smaller and less overwhelming.

Dalai Lama

from The Art of Happiness