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Meeting Tibetan Buddhists ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism
“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else  will solve their problems.  Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.  Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility:  Daily Wisdom”

 

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche  [1905—1989]

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche [1905—1989]



Introduction. I have been blessed by meeting and learning from many spiritual teachers, in addition to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. Especially inspiring and helpful have been certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers.

Soon after my mid-life spiritual awakening, I was first exposed to Buddhist teachings via radio. For many years, I regularly listened to masterful New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms of spiritual teachers and authors, often Buddhists. And on Sunday nights, while driving home from visiting my parents, I regularly heard on KPFA recorded talks by Buddhist teacher, Alan Watts, a brilliantly insightful and articulate former Episcopal priest who had ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Also for a short time I attended Sunday morning dharma talks and Zazen meditations at the beautiful and bucolic Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin County.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Guruji I mostly focussed on Hindu spiritual teachings. But I remained curious about other spiritual and mystical traditions, especially non-duality teachings which I found not only in Advaita Vedanta, but also in Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. (Ultimately, beyond religion, I became most focussed on certain universal wisdom principles at the heart of all enduring spiritual, religious, philosophical and ethical paths – like the “Golden Rule”. And to further those teachings I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation.)

During a 1979 apparent ‘near death’ experience, I had visions of ethereal, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism – which sparked much curiosity about Tibetan Buddhists and their mandalas. Soon afterwards I was synchronistically blessed with darshan of Tibetan lamas who in diaspora had started coming to the West. Most important for me were H.H. the Dalai Lama – who remains a living inspiration for me, and Kalu Rinpoche, a very venerable Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, now deceased and reborn.

For over thirty years I have been deeply inspired by core Buddhist teachings, as practiced by the Tibetans, though I never became a practicing Buddhist. In the 1980’s I honored that inspiration by receiving refuge and taking Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche, and by receiving empowerments and teachings from both Kalu Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama, as well as other Tibetan lamas.

Taking Refuge. After meeting Kalu Rinpoche, I soon took refuge from him in the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, sangha and dharma. In a brief refuge ceremony with this great yogi, I thereby symbolically committed to honor the Buddha – as my own true nature – and those teachings and communities which would advance realization of that Buddha nature.

Boddhisattva vows. Shortly after taking refuge I was inspired to take Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche to altruistically help all sentient beings end their sufferings.

In taking these vows I was deeply inspired by this selfless Tibetan Buddhist ideal exemplified by the Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche and many other Lamas. Never content with only their own spiritual evolution and salvation, Buddhist Boddhisattvas postpone their own ‘nirvana’ choosing to take continuing rebirths in order to serve humanity until every sentient being has been helped to liberation. For example, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is latest in a long line of Boddhisattva Dalai Lamas, believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.

Taking Boddhisattva vows symbolically marked an important transition from my prior aspiration to escape through spiritual “enlightenment” from this world of inevitable suffering. Rather than yearning to leave this crazy world forever, I took those vows aspiring to stay here in ways which might help all life everywhere, as I continued to observe and clear my own mental defilements.

Enlightenment as a Process. After taking these Buddhist vows, I didn’t expect an early departure from space/time causality reality. Instead, influenced by Buddha’s teachings that conditioned existence (samsara) has been going on for so long that all beings may have been each other’s parents in some lifetime, I began regarding “enlightenment” as a virtually endless evolutionary process in which – except for Buddhas and Boddhisattvas – we unwittingly participate for eons.

The Tibetan Tulku Tradition. Tulkus are emanations of those who retain spiritual consciousness and continuity through successive births. Except perhaps for rare Buddhas and very evolved beings, on rebirth almost everyone experiences ‘instant amnesia’ about conscious details of other lifetimes and prior spiritual learning, which details remain in our subconscious memory. The Tibetan Tulku tradition, aims to facilitate fulfillment of boddhisattva vows by locating reborn Lamas at an early age and training them from childhood to rekindle their consciousness of Buddhist teachings and practices. Tibetans have elaborate tests to prove that newly reborn Tulkus are truly who the waiting elders think they are, such as checking whether the child can recognize acquaintances or possessions from his previous life or answer questions only known to his former life-experience. For example, this process is portrayed in Kundun, the classic biographical film about the Dalai Lama. Some rare Tibetans (like the Karmapa) are able to foretell before dying where they will consciously take rebirth.

Karma. The Tibetans’ Tulku tradition is inextricably intertwined with their teachings about karma, rebirth, and Boddhisattvas. Although virtually all mystical traditions accept karma, afterlife and reincarnation, the Tibetan Buddhists’ karma and rebirth teachings and their Boddhisattva traditions especially helped me enhance identification with spirit while diminishing my psychological fear of bodily death.

According to Eastern philosophies, Karma is universal law of cause and effect applied at subtle levels to everything we think, do or say during repeated rebirths as supposedly separate beings. A similar concept is implicit in Western teachings that we reap as we sow. [Galatians 6:7-9]

As long as we self-identify as subjects separate from supposed objects of our choice or intention, our exercise of supposed free will creates karmic causes and conditions. Buddhism teaches that karma means “volitional action.” Any thought, word or deed conditioned by samsaric illusion – for example, defilements like desire, hate, or passion – creates karma. On death, the unexperienced effects of karmic causes, result in unavoidable rebirths.

What is reborn? “Reincarnation” is commonly understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumcised spirit – to another body after physical death. But in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death. Yet Buddhists believe in rebirth.

So, what do Buddhists say is reborn to experience karmic causes and conditions, or to fulfill Boddhisattva vows? I will simplistically and metaphorically share my understanding.

I was once told by Swami Sivananda Radha that during a private audience with the Dalai Lama she asked, “In view of Buddhist teaching that there is no separate self or soul, what reincarnates?” And His Holiness replied: “An energy vortex.”

The Dalai Lama’s explanation that an “energy vortex” is what incarnates was consistent with Western science. Since Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, quantum physicists have confirmed that in this world of space/time and causality everything is energy – every impermanent form and phenomenon, whether or not perceptible or measurable.

And for millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their mental software survives, and is reusable.

Thus, just as I am able to use with my new iMac the same OS X software system that operated my old iMac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of mental obscurations and defilements.

Precious human birth. Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting Guruji, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for evolution it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.

Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is extraordinarily precious and rare. They persuaded me that although the unexperienced effects of karmic causes result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirths; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors we squander a rare chance to evolve spiritually.

In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalacakra empowerment given by Kalu Rinpoche. In describing the history and rare significance of that ceremony, Lama Kalu explained that our attendance arose from beneficial causes and conditions so mysteriously and statistically rare as to be well beyond ordinary human comprehension – like Jesus’ metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. For example, according to the Buddha, obtaining a human birth and following truth teachings is as unlikely as it is for a blind turtle to put its head through a single yoke which is cast on the oceans of this world.

In all events, Kalu’s teaching deeply impressed me with the preciousness and impermanence of human birth, and the importance of using it to evolve spiritually.

More memorable experiences with Kalu Rinpoche. Before receiving the Kalacakra empowerment, in 1982 I attended a public talk by Kalu Rinpoche at Fort Mason, San Francisco, about the Mahamudra experience, which he described (through an interpreter) as the quintessence of all Buddhadharma. Though I didn’t understand much of what was said, I intuited that I was in the presence of a great meditation master – like Guruji.

After talking about Mahamudra, Lama Kalu said that to help us understand Mahamudra experience he would give us a brief demonstration of that state of being. Whereupon, with ‘miraculous’ mind-power, he dramatically transformed the energy in that small lecture room. Suddenly my mind went completely still and I experienced a rare state of peace and oneness beyond comprehension or expression. By Kalu Rinpoche’s immense power as a meditation master, he briefly but unforgettably shared with us a glimpse of his rare and exalted state of clear mind.

A few years later, circa 1986-7, I had another memorable experience of Kalu Rinpoche’s powerful presence. Together with my daughter, Jessica, and friends Mark and Marsha Newman, I attended a public talk by him at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church, one of the city’s largest religious sanctuaries. After waiting in a long line for some time, we managed to be seated in pews near the very back of the church.

Just as Kalu Rinpoche had ‘magically’ transformed the energy in the small lecture room where I heard him describe the Mahamudra experience, the energy ambience in that entire large church was palpably transformed upon his appearance at the pulpit. My daughter Jessica, had never before experienced such a spiritually powerful presence and was deeply impressed. Afterwards, she posted a picture of Kalu Rinpoche in her room, and though she never again saw him she was emotionally affected and cried on news of Kalu’s death in May, 1989.

After seeing Kalu Rinpoche at the Unitarian Church, I saw him again when he was interviewed by Michael Toms at the New Dimensions San Francisco radio studio. On his arrival at the studio he was introduced to staff and to me (as a New Dimensions director). Whereupon he came up to each one of us and humbly introduced himself with a friendly handshake. At that gesture, I was impressed with that great yogi’s humility – like Guruji’s. Later I was inspired to observe that: “The more we know we’re no one, the more we’re seen as someone”.

Learning to keep faith despite disillusionment. After many years of questioning, I have found a faith based life – beyond beliefs, dogmas, theologies or personalities. I was very much helped and encouraged in this process by another important and synchronistic encounter with Kalu Rinpoche, at a time of great disillusionment in my life,.

In the 1980’s after Guruji’s return to India I learned with shock that certain private behavior of a spiritual teacher (other than Guruji) with whom I had a close relationship was significantly inconsistent with his teachings and outer image. Though by this time, I knew of numerous instances in which well known spiritual teachers were credibly shown to be flawed humans, like the rest of us. But this was the first time that it happened with a teacher with whom I felt a close rapport and had spent much time. And I was emotionally upset and confused.

Whereupon, I learned that Kalu Rinpoche would be appearing for a morning talk and darshan at Kagyu Droden Kunchab a San Francisco Center dedicated to the ultimate benefit of all sentient beings, which he founded; that his Buddhist teachings would be followed by a question and answer session. I desperately wanted Kalu’s guidance about my crisis of faith. But I had to be in court that morning. So dressed in suit and tie, I came to the darshan with very limited time to spend there.

By the time that Kalu ended his talk, I had only thirty minutes left before needing to leave for court. Whereupon the translator announced that Rinpoche would now entertain questions, and virtually everyone in the room – including me – raised a hand for recognition. ‘Miraculously’ Kalu beckoned first to me to ask my question, which was:

“What is the proper attitude of a student on discovery of a teacher’s behaviors inconsistent with the teachings?”

Whereupon Lama Kalu gave an extremely wise and helpful thirty minute dissertation in response to my inquiry. As soon as he finished and began answering the next question, I was obliged to leave for court. I cannot recount details of what Kalu said, but the unforgettable essence of his answer was:

“Never lose faith in the teachings, even if you lose faith in the teacher.”

Only after years of introspection and more instances of disillusionment with teachers and others upon whom I had mistakenly projected flawless ethics, was I able to fully grasp Kalu’s wise teaching. During that process, I decided that “incarnation is limitation”; that no one is infallible; and, that “it is better to live the teachings, and not teach them, than to teach the teachings and not live them”.

A few years after my last face to face encounter with Lama Kalu, I was memorably reminded of his meditation mastery and his message of faith. On a beautiful week-end day while hiking in the forested higher elevations of Point Reyes National Sea Shore nature reserve, I decided to sit on a rock from which I enjoyed a panoramic view out into the ocean. As I beheld that inspiring nature scene in a meditative mood, Lama Kalu Rinpoche’s smiling visage fleetingly appeared in my inner vision. We never again met in this life, but I shall remain ever grateful for his blessings. With his encouragement I have never lost faith in this precious human life and in the infinite opportunities it affords us.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.




His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Of all prominent living people, I am most inspired by H.H. the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader (and former political leader) of Tibet. Apart from his Holiness’s spiritual attainments, which are beyond my comprehension, I am especially inspired by his universal compassion, wisdom, humility and humor.

I see him as a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics. Although my encounters with His Holiness have been impersonal – only as part of large audiences or via videos or writings – I feel a deep connection and harmony with him as a revered fellow human being.

Ever since an October, 1989 darshan, I have wondered whether that harmonious connection began in other lifetimes. At that time, I had the good fortune of being one of a limited number of people privileged to attend a ceremony to be conducted by His Holiness atop sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, in a natural outdoor amphitheater. Because of limited highway access, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive by helicopter. But his flight was delayed, and so we awaited his arrival.

Instead of waiting in the amphitheater, I decided to meditate in a nearby nature place. Then, on contemplating the Dalai Lama I experienced such heartfelt affinity and reverence, that I began an intense and protracted devotional crying jag. I became so overwhelmed with emotion of devotion that I was unable to stop weeping and enter the amphitheater even when I heard the sounds of the helicopter’s arrival. Ultimately, a compassionate Buddhist woman, who on her arrival had observed me crying, came out and taking me by the hand led me, still weeping, into the amphitheater.

The Dalai Lama is the only Tibetan teacher, including Kalu Rinpoche, with whom I have continuously felt such a deep devotional rapport – like my rapport with Guruji. He is regarded by Tibetans as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and perhaps it is this subtle energy which opens my heart. In all events, though I don’t yet remember another life as a Tibetan, I intuit an important karmic connection with His Holiness, and regard him as a role model for living an ethical and compassionate life, regardless of our religious or cultural history.

Here are some of the ways in which I have been inspired by the Dalai Lama’s life and teachings:

Compassion. In his ever inspiring deportment, talks, and writings, His Holiness manifests and emphasizes the crucial importance of compassionate behavior – even with enemies. Drawing great inspiration from him, I have gradually come to regard everyone I meet – including those with whom I have disagreements – as spiritual siblings – brothers or sisters all sharing the same aspirations for happiness and peace of mind, despite superficial cultural differences. And, despite my pronounced lawyer’s tendencies to combatively judge all adversaries, more and more I have even found compassion for those whose ignorance of their true spiritual identity leads them to egregiously harmful behaviors. For example, at a time when I considered former US President George Bush, Jr., a war criminal and mass murderer, His Holiness publicly described him as “a nice man.” Hopefully, he privately influenced Bush – with whom he shares the same July 6th birthdate – to adopt more compassionate ethics.

Humility. His Holiness is regarded by Tibetans and by many others as a living Buddha. For, example, a Tibetan emigre attending a Tibetan Losar new year ceremony conducted in Minneapolis by His Holiness told a newspaper reporter there that “for Tibetans in exile, seeing the Dalai Lama is akin to Christians getting to meet Jesus”. Moreover, especially since his nomination for the Nobel Peace prize, His Holiness has become like a world-wide rockstar celebrity, attracting capacity audiences for all public appearances. Yet he remains exceptionally humble, describing himself as “a simple Buddhist monk” and member of the Human family. Despite his renown as a living sage, I have heard him several times answering questions with “I don’t know”. In my experience, this is very rare behavior for an elevated Eastern spiritual teacher. For example, I have never heard of any such humble response from elevated Hindu teachers regarded as avatars or ‘god-men’. I was especially drawn to Guruji who (despite his Hindu acculturation) was exceptionally humble, and even told my friend Joy Massa: “follow your heart, even if it contradicts my words”.

I have always felt ambivalent about spiritual teachers who pontificate as if they are infallible. For me, such behavior encourages adulation over inspiration. And I am uncomfortable with any spiritual group or tradition emphasizing adulation of the incarnate over adoration of the Infinite.

In my opinion, selfless humility is a supreme virtue. It is especially rare in prominent people who are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation, which can easily entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those like the Dalai Lama, Guruji, Gandhi and Einstein, who have resisted such ego temptations I consider inspiring great beings.

Universal morality and ethics beyond religion. In public talks and in his recently published book “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” His Holiness explains how inner values “are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence and happiness we all seek”, concluding that “the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion” which alone “is no longer adequate”. To me, this is a crucially inspiring message, which completely coincides with my philosophy and life experience. Before publication of “Beyond Religion” I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation dedicated to elevating awareness of universal principles – like the ‘Golden Rule’ – at the heart of all enduring religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. And His Holiness’s book and teachings have encouraged me to continue pursuing that path.

Politics, Economics and Ecology. Just as the Dalai Lama’s views on universal morality and ethics beyond religion have paralleled my views and inspired and encouraged me to pursue them, His Holiness supports liberal political, economic and ecological views with which I have long identified and pursued as a social justice advocate.

He recognizes as “a very great thing” Mahatma Gandhi’s sophisticated political implementation of ahimsa – the ancient moral teachings of nonviolence and non-injury. As an engaged Buddhist, the Dalai Lama outspokenly endorses Gandhian non-violent and compassionate political social action benefitting the majority of citizens, especially those underprivileged and exploited.

Thus, he rejects capitalist economics, as focussed on greed, gain and profits and outspokenly endorses democratic Marxist theory of equitable access to means of production and distribution of wealth. But, he rejects as lacking compassion and encouraging class hatred the so-called Marxism of the failed totalitarian former USSR, or China, and he objects to their excessive emphasis on class struggle.

Ecologically the Dalai Lama recognizes that Earth is severely threatened by ignorant human greed and lack of respect for all life on our precious planet. Accordingly, he urges that we become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve this crisis with compassionate solidarity, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of life as we know it. (See e.g. Spiritual People in a Perfectly Crazy World)

Conclusion. Thus I am supremely grateful for the wisdom and inspiration bestowed by Tibetan teachings and teachers, especially through His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who for me is a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics.

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Dalai Lama – Many Faiths, One Truth


Many Faiths, One Truth

By TENZIN GYATSO


WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.

Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.

An early eye-opener for me was my meeting with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton in India shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions.

A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.
I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us.

Take Judaism, for instance. I first visited a synagogue in Cochin, India, in 1965, and have met with many rabbis over the years. I remember vividly the rabbi in the Netherlands who told me about the Holocaust with such intensity that we were both in tears. And I’ve learned how the Talmud and the Bible repeat the theme of compassion, as in the passage in Leviticus that admonishes, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In my many encounters with Hindu scholars in India, I’ve come to see the centrality of selfless compassion in Hinduism too — as expressed, for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita, which praises those who “delight in the welfare of all beings.” I’m moved by the ways this value has been expressed in the life of great beings like Mahatma Gandhi, or the lesser-known Baba Amte, who founded a leper colony not far from a Tibetan settlement in Maharashtra State in India. There he fed and sheltered lepers who were otherwise shunned. When I received my Nobel Peace Prize, I made a donation to his colony.

Compassion is equally important in Islam — and recognizing that has become crucial in the years since Sept. 11, especially in answering those who paint Islam as a militant faith. On the first anniversary of 9/11, I spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, pleading that we not blindly follow the lead of some in the news media and let the violent acts of a few individuals define an entire religion.

Let me tell you about the Islam I know. Tibet has had an Islamic community for around 400 years, although my richest contacts with Islam have been in India, which has the world’s second-largest Muslim population. An imam in Ladakh once told me that a true Muslim should love and respect all of Allah’s creatures. And in my understanding, Islam enshrines compassion as a core spiritual principle, reflected in the very name of God, the “Compassionate and Merciful,” that appears at the beginning of virtually each chapter of the Koran.

Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.

Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the author, most recently, of “Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together.”

Originally published as an Op-Ed by New York Times on May 24, 2010


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Pursuit of Happiness? – Quotations


“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!”
~ Rumi
“Cultivate compassion; harvest happiness.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Happiness heals.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




“We hold these truths to be self evident:
that all men are created equal:
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
~ U.S. Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”
~ Dalai Lama

“The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase;
if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.”
~ C. P. Snow

“Don’t seek happiness.  If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking
is the antithesis of happiness.  Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from
unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is rather than making up
stories about it.  Unhappiness covers up your natural state of well­being  and
inner peace, the source of true happiness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu

“What is the worth of a happiness for which you must strive and work?
Real happiness is spontaneous and effortless.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“By letting it go it all gets done.
The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try,
the world is beyond the winning.”
~ Lao Tzu

“I am happy even before I have a reason.”
~ Hafiz

The word “happiness” would lose its meaning
if it were not balanced by sadness.
~ Carl Jung


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How Shall We Solve Our Planetary Problems?

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

~ Albert Einstein
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”

~ Buddha
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

~ King Solomon – Proverbs 23:7
“The release of atom power .. changed everything except our way of thinking
…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind.”

~ Albert Einstein
“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart.The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

~ Dalai Lama (From “Humanity and Ecology”)
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
 and the rational mind is a faithful servant.

We have created a society
 that honors the servant
 and has forgotten the gift.”

~ Albert Einstein
“I think with intuition. The basis of true thinking is intuition.
Indeed, it is not intellect, but intuition which advances humanity.
Intuition tells a man his purpose in life. One never goes wrong following his feelings. I don’t mean emotions, I mean feelings, for feelings and intuition are one.”

~ Albert Einstein




Q. How can humankind solve its critical planetary problems?

A. By addressing them intuitively from an elevated heart level of awareness.

The critical problems now confronting humanity have arisen from an egoic mental level of human consciousness, which must be transcended for our peaceful survival on planet Earth. As Albert Einstein aptly observed: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

To solve critical human problems we must elevate our individual and collective level of consciousness, from the human mind – which is thought – to the human heart, which is intuition. And then, with “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness” [Dalai Lama], we shall intuitively see and cooperatively solve our problems.

Only with feelings, insights and actions arising from loving kindness and compassion for all life everywhere, can humankind truly transcend and cooperatively solve its critical ecologic and economic problems.

With benevolent and focused intention, more and more we must open our hearts to our innate empathy, kindness and compassion, and thereby realize our collective connection and concern with all life everywhere.

To experience your true loving nature, please watch this beautiful Korean video, and see if it doesn’t open your heart to innate feelings of empathy for all life everywhere:



With opened hearts we can and we shall solve our critical planetary problems.

And so it shall be!

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Laughter: Quotes and Hafiz poem

“When you realize how perfect everything is
you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”
~ Buddha
“What is soap to the body, laughter is to the soul.”

~ Yiddish Proverb
“I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears, invited by my agonized self, into calm. 
It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter. 
Tears that purify my heart and reveal to me the secret of life and its mystery,
Laughter that brings me closer to my fellow men;
Tears with which I join the broken-hearted,
Laughter that symbolizes joy over my very existence.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Time spent laughing is time spent with the Gods.”

~ Japanese proverb
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

~ Victor Borg
“Sing because this is a food our starving world needs.
Laugh because that is the purest sound.”

~ Hafiz
“Blessed is he who makes his companions laugh.”
~ The Koran
“It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have been confronted with many difficulties throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious. When people ask me how I find the strength to laugh now, I reply that I am a professional laugher.”
~ The Dalai Lama


Laughing Buddha


Laughter ~ Hafiz

What is laughter? What is laughter?
It is God waking up! O it is God waking up!
It is the sun poking its sweet head out
From behind a cloud
You have been carrying too long,
Veiling your eyes and heart.

It is Light breaking ground for a great Structure
That is your Real body – called Truth.

It is happiness applauding itself and then taking flight
To embrace everyone and everything in this world.

Laughter is the polestar
Held in the sky by our Beloved,
Who eternally says,

“Yes, dear ones, come this way,
Come this way towards Me and Love!

Come with your tender mouths moving
And your beautiful tongues conducting songs
And with your movements – your magic movements
Of hands and feet and glands and cells – Dancing!

Know that to God’s Eye,
All movement is a Wondrous Language,
And Music – such exquisite, wild Music!”

O what is laughter, Hafiz?
What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?

It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!

 

Hafiz translation: I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

 

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Quotations About Religion


“If there is love in your heart,
you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Kyaikto, Burma



Quotations About Religion

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“There is one Cosmic Essence, all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful. This nameless formless essence can be approached by any name, any form, any symbol that suites the taste of the individual. Follow your religion, but try to understand the real purpose behind all of the rituals and traditions, and experience that Oneness.”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.”
~ Khalil Gibran~ “The Prophet”

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology.  Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.  ”
~ Albert Einstein

“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“This is a time for us to remember that in the name of religion more people have died than in all the wars and natural calamities put together. Now more than ever we must understand that the purpose of religion is not to separate us. True faiths don’t preach hatred and killing, nor did any of the prophets. It is the people who interpret the scriptures who create the divisions. Division comes if we put our ego into the teachings of these religions. Let us strive to be free of that kind of egoism”
~ Swami Satchidananda

Let us accept all the different paths as different rivers running toward the same ocean.
~ Swami Satchidananda

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
~ George Orwell, 1984

“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.
Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

“. . Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“Religion is confining and imprisoning and toxic because it is based on ideology and dogma. But spirituality is redeeming and universal.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~ Mark Twain – Autobiography, 1959

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
 not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi or Zen.
 Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,
 nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground, not natural or ethereal,
 not composed of elements at all. 
I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next, 
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.
 My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul. 
I belong to the beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,
 First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi, ‘Only Breath’

“There is only one God, the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …
There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion — Hindus, Mohammendans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well — the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. At a third the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’, but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

“People often ask me, “What religion are you? You talk about the Bible, Koran, Torah. Are you a Hindu?” I say, I am not a Catholic, a Buddhist, or a Hindu, but an Undo. My religion is Undoism. We have done enough damage (with religious dogma). We have to stop doing any more and simply undo the damage we have already done.”
~ Swami Satchidananda – Beyond Words:

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”

“Among all my patients in the second half of life … there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”
~ Carl Jung

 



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Reincarnation ~ Quotes From Famous People

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear ?
 When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi



“Lord Krishna said: …. The learned neither laments for the dead or the living. Certainly never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these kings and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future. Just as in the physical body of the embodied being is the process of childhood, youth and old age; similarly by the transmigration from one body to another the wise are never deluded.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“But know that by whom this entire body is pervaded, is indestructible. No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable soul. The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible and infinite, only the material body is factually perishable….”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed. Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.” “The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again, till they return to Him.”
~ Koran


“Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of 
bodies of the world.”
~ Jesus Christ in Gnostic Gospels: Pistis Sophia

“Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist concept, but it is part of the history of human origin. It is proof of the mindstream’s capacity to retain knowledge of physical and mental activities. It is related to the theory of interdependent origination and to the law of cause and effect.”
~ The Dalai Lama (Preface to “The Case for Reincarnation”)

“Rebirth is an affirmation that must be counted among the primordial affirmations of mankind. The concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that, when one is incarnated or born, one is able, potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences, and that these existences were one’s own, ie, they had the same ego form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth in a human body.”  
~ Carl Jung

“Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil – coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and 
believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope 
that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug 
all of humanity in friendly embrace.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand 
times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the 
amplitude of time.”
~ Walt Whitman

“I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.” 

~ Mark Twain

“I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. 
We shall rise refreshed in the morning.” And, “Finding myself to 
exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always 
exist.”
~ Benjamin Franklin


Franklin wrote this epitaph at age 22 which was never used:

“The Body of B. Franklin Printer, 
Like the Cover of an Old Book, 
Its Contents Torn Out 
And Stripped of its Lettering and Gilding, 
Lies Here Food for Worms, 
But the Work shall not be Lost, 
For it Will as He Believed 
Appear Once More 
In a New and more Elegant Edition 
Revised and Corrected 
By the Author”

“I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of 
millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, 
promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”

~ Jack London, author, best known for book Call of the Wild

“The theory of Reincarnation, which originated in India, has been welcomed in other countries. Without doubt, it is one of the most sensible and satisfying of all religions that mankind has conceived. This, like the others, comes from the best qualities of human nature, even if in this, as in the others, its adherents sometimes fail to carry out the principles in their lives.”
~ Luther Burbank

“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is 
our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives”. – – – –
“To me this is the most beautiful, the most satisfactory from a scientific standpoint,
the most logical theory of life. For thirty years I have leaned toward the theory of Reincarnation.
It seems a most reasonable philosophy and explains many things.”
~ Henry Ford

“As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be 
Again,
you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Live so that thou mayest desire to live again – that is thy duty –

for in any case thou wilt live again!”

~ Freidrich Nietzsche

“The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.” “It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals… and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Celts were fearless warriors because “they wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another…”
~ Julius Caesar

“Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar.”
~ William Wordsworth

“My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing.

I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries 
and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer;
 that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.”
~ Carl Jung

“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the
 dead are in existence.”

~ Socrates

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once;
everything in nature is resurrection.”
~ Voltaire

“He saw all these forms and faces in a thousand relationships become newly born.
Each one was mortal, a passionate, painful example of all that is transitory.
Yet none of them died, they only changed, were always reborn, continually had a new face:
only time stood between one face and another.”
~ Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

“All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies.”

~ Josephus (most well known Jewish historian from the time of Jesus)

“All human beings go through a previous life… Who knows how
 many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be 
brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of
 spiritual worlds?”
~ Honore Balzac (French writer)

“Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.”
~ Arthur Schopenhauer (Philosopher)

“When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives.
It then takes on another body.”
~ Paul Gauguin (French post-impressionist painter)

“Friends are all souls that we’ve known in other lives. We’re drawn to each other.
Even if I have only known them a day, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know.”
~ George Harrison

“Know, therefore, that from the greater silence I shall return…
Forget not that I shall come back to you…
A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind,
and another woman shall bear me.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“There is no death. How can there be death if everything is part of the Godhead?
The soul never dies and the body is never really alive.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stories from Behind the Stove



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“A Simple Monk” and a Saintly Soul ~ a Synchronicity Story

“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity,
and do not let expectations hinder my path.”
~ Dalai Lama
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

 

Carol Schuldt


This is a sweet synchronicity story about the Dalai Lama and my saintly friend Carol Schuldt.

Of all living spiritual masters, the Dalai Lama of Tibet most inspires me with his exemplary compassion, wisdom, humor, and humility. [I’ve dedicated a website category to his wise quotes and wonderful images.]

My 79 year old friend Carol Schuldt, is one of the most unforgettable people I’ve known. (See: One of The Most Unforgettable Persons I’ve Known.)

Carol is a spiritual person, with her own unique path of communing with Nature while surfing, swimming, sunning, hiking, biking, and gardening, and helping troubled souls – especially young people. Though raised Catholic, she has never knowingly followed any prescribed Western or Eastern spiritual path, like Tibetan Buddhism.

Though Carol has never yet met the Dalai Lama, she recently experienced a wonderful and amazing synchronicity with him. And immediately thereafter she excitedly phoned me to tell about it.

Here is the story:

On a June Saturday morning, Sacramento videographer Paul Maska came to Carol’s house to do a pre-arranged weekend video shoot of Carol for a documentary film about sun gazing produced by Wayne Purdin, Director of the Sun Center of Phoenix, AZ.

While filming and interviewing Carol, Paul became aware of Carol’s saintly spiritual presence and her exceptional natural lifestyle. So, during a break from filming, he asked her with curiosity if she was inspired by or felt affinity with any spiritual culture. After reflection, Carol declared that she felt special kinship with the Tibetans.

Whereupon, to Carol’s surprise and amazement, Paul spontaneously clasped their hands, touched their foreheads, and with deep concentration began making very low Tibetan overtone throat sounds. Unknown to Carol, Paul was then silently invoking and experiencing a communion with the the Dalai Lama, who he first met twenty years ago.

At that time, Paul had journeyed to India where he received H.H.’s personal ‪tashi delek‬ greeting and blessing. Paul then had an unforgettable spiritual experience with His Holiness while their hands were clasped and foreheads touching. Now, Carol’s expression of affinity with Tibetans, and her saintly aura, sparked Paul’s recollection and spontaneous invocation with Carol of that experience.

About ten minutes after Paul’s spontaneous ‪tashi delek‬ greeting and blessing for Carol, he and his assistant Marc, went outside for needed equipment left in their car.

Whereupon Marc discovered and examined a box of books which someone had just anonymously left in front of Carol’s house, beneath a large mural of Saint Francis of Assisi painted on the facade. Soon he found in the box an apparently new hardcover book entitled: “A Simple Monk”, with writings about the Dalai Lama by Professor Robert Thurman and others.

The book cover jacket displayed this prominent smiling portrait of His Holiness:



Knowing of Paul’s love of the Dalai Lama, Marc quickly took the book out of the box and gave it to Paul. Whereupon Paul excitedly ran upstairs to bring the book to Carol. As he handed it to her, he exclaimed, “Hey Carol you won’t believe what just happened!”.

Immediately appreciating the synchronistic blessing of the mysteriously manifested book, Carol burst into profuse tears of gratitude as she gazed at the smiling face of His Holiness.

Because of Carol’s great interest in synchronicities stemming from her lifelong experience of meaningful ‘coincidences’, Carol had just purchased a newly published edition of “The Red Book”, the previously unpublished esoteric writings of C.G. Jung, in which Jung had written about “synchronicity” – a word which he coined.

Though Carol was anxious to read and learn more from the book about this fascinating subject, she was so moved with gratitude by her experience with Paul and the Dalai Lama, that Carol handed “The Red Book” to Paul, asking him to first read it and then return it to her.

I predict that Carol will be experiencing many more amazing synchronicities before she reads “The Red Book”. Perhaps, you’ll read about them on this Silly Sutras website.

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Your Religion Is Not Important




Introduction. The following is a brief dialogue between  the Dalai Lama and Brazilian theologist Leonardo Boff, one of the renovators of the Theology of Freedom, as recounted by Boff:

Boff’s Narative.

“In a round table discussion about religion and freedom in which 
Dalai Lama and myself were participating, at recess I maliciously, and also with interest, asked him: 
“Your holiness, what is the best religion?”

“I thought he would say:      “The Tibetan Buddhism” or “The oriental religions, much older than Christianity”

“Dalai Lama paused, smiled and looked me in the eyes ….which surprised me because I knew of the malice contained in my question.  “He answered: 

“The best religion is the one that gets you closest to God. 
It is the one that makes you a better person.”


“To get out of my embarrassment with such a wise answer, I asked:

 “What is it that makes me better?”

“He responded:

“Whatever makes you
more Compassionate,
more Sensible,
more Detached,
more Loving,
more Humanitarian,
more Responsible,
more Ethical.”

 “The religion that will do that for you is the best religion”


“I was silent for a moment, marveling and even today 
thinking of his wise and irrefutable response:

“I am not interested, my friend, about your religion 
or if you are religious or not.

“What really is important to me is your behavior in 
front of your peers, family, work, community, 
and in front of the world.”

“Remember, the universe is the echo of our actions and our  thoughts.

“The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics.  
 It is also of human relations.
 If I act with goodness, I will receive goodness.
 If I act with evil, I will get evil.

“What our grandparents told us is the pure truth. 
 You will always have what you desire for others. 
 Being happy is not a matter of destiny. 
 It is a matter of options.”


Finally he said:

“Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.
Take care of your Words because they will become Actions.
Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits.
Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character.
Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny,
and your Destiny will be your Life
     … and …
“There is no religion higher than the Truth.”


You Tube presentation of this dialogue:



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