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Dalai Lama Shares Message of Compassion, Unity

Dorothy Rowley | 3/7/2014, 3:45 p.m.
The Dalai Lama told a packed National Cathedral on Friday that compassion is the true path to divinity — a ...
The Dalai Lama spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington on March 7. (Courtesy photo)

The Dalai Lama told a packed National Cathedral on Friday that compassion is the true path to divinity — a path he said isn't always easy for human beings to take.

"Serving poor people is the best way to serve God," he said during the sold-out event, a 45-minute conversation titled "Beyond Religion: Ethics for the Whole World." "Most religions believe in a creator, [but] many contradictions [may arise] when different philosophical views are taught by some for the sake of money."

The nature of humans is to be compassionate, which becomes the basis for hope, he said. However, he conceded that the practice of compassion is not easy — particularly in dealing with anger and hatred, both of which are self-centered attitudes related to greed, jealousy and distrust.

"Our experiences are a result of our actions, and if you do good to others you benefit … [but] if you do harm, you get major consequences," he said.

The Dalai Lamai, 79, who describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk, is recognized as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Often compared to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., he is revered by many for decades-long struggle for justice.

"We are created by God's infinite love, and like children carry the genes of their parents, we carry the DNA of God," he said. "Humans need a variety of measures to promote love and compassion, and although no religion — no matter how wonderful — will cover the entire human race, [hundreds of thousands] of the world's 7 billion people who are nonbelievers are still humans and deserve love and care."

The Dalai Lama said there are are also "mischievous believers — "which shows that they believe in something."

He added, however, that because religion can be used as an instrument of exploitation, there's need for a global sense of oneness among people.

"These global [changes] are a problem of humanity and because of that, natural disasters will increase," he said, alluding to the three major commitments — promotion of basic human values, fostering of inter-religious harmony and the preservation of Tibet's Buddhist culture — by which his life is guided.

"In education, inner values are missing to effect peace in, and among students," the Dalai Lama said. "We have to take lessons in humanity seriously … Biologically, we are equipped with a sense of affection that comes from mothers."

He explained that people who were nurtured early on by their mothers tended to grow up with a far greater sense of security, while those who weren't display "a greater sense of insecurity and are very reluctant to trust others."

Friday's event was part of the Dalai Lama's third visit to the U.S. since 1993. He gave the opening prayer in the Senate on Thursday and also met with President Obama at the White House on Feb. 21 for a non-private gathering.

Those meetings have outraged Beijing, which has branded Tibet's exiled spiritual leader as an anti-Chinese separatist.