Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Call to Peace by the Dalai Lama

“Ethics for the New Millennium”
By His Holiness the Dali Lama

            In 1949 a 16 year old monk designated as the 14th Dali Lama in Tibet was forced to flee his country after the Chinese invasion there. The Dalai Lama and millions of his people suffered great loss, and Tibetans are still suffering under the harsh rule of Communist China. Despite this, the Dalai Lama has spent his entire time in exile traveling to countries promoting the message of non-violence and peaceful resolution preached by one of his heroes Mahatma Gandhi. These efforts earned His Holiness world-wide acclaim and in 1989 the Nobel Peace Prize. Using the notoriety as a platform for peace, the Dalai Lama stated in his acceptance speech in Oslo in December of 1989, “As we enter the final decade of this Century (20th) I am optimistic that the ancient values that have sustained mankind are today reaffirming themselves to prepare us for a kinder, happier twenty-first century.”
And there was reason for hope. The fall of the Berlin Wall promised an end to the cold war and the opportunity for the restoration of human rights in those countries living behind the Iron Curtain for so long. But once again brutal civil wars and ethnic cleansing reared its ugly head in the Balkan area along the Mediterranean during the 90’s. The Chinese government continued its brutal policies against the voices of freedom with the June 3, 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square and the arrests and purges that followed. As the Dalai Lama traveled to the United Nations in support of peaceful negotiations to end this suffering, he had the opportunity to meet with political as well as religious leaders of the free world. As the Twentieth Century came to a close the Dali Lama decided to write a book about what he believed would be the hope for mankind to come together and create the peaceful world he believed all sentient beings from all nations and all religious faiths desired. “Ethics for a new Millennium” was the result.
In this ground breaking book that spent over three months on the New York Times Bestseller List, the Dalai Lama makes a call for a global spiritual revolution. Although His Holiness states that he is of the Buddhist religion, his book is “not a religious book.” He is a firm believer in religious pluralism. What he means by “spiritual” is finding that connection inside of us that transcends the physical part of us (the five senses) that is selfish and materialistically motivated to find compassionate concern for all sentient beings as the motivation for our actions. In the past, people connected with this part of themselves through their religious faith, thereby finding a moral path within the context of their overall pursuit of salvation.
According to the Dalai Lama, the growth of science has led to the decline of religion worldwide and with it, the moral path. He believes there is a global need for people of all religious and non-religious beliefs to find a path of ethical conduct that will result in brother and sisterhood and love and compassion as the basis for determining what constitutes positive and negative behavior or what is “right and wrong.” Therefore, he believes there is a need for individuals to find a way to “reorient our thoughts and emotions and reorder our behavior, not only so we can learn to cope with suffering more easily, but so that we can prevent a deal of it from happening in the first place.” The answer, he believes is what he calls “spiritual ethics.”
In Part I of “Ethics for a New Millennium” the Dalai Lama lays the foundation (or justification) for spiritual ethics. Part II describes the relationship between spiritual ethics and individual behavior as well as defines the most important ethics. In Part III he describes how individual practice of spiritual ethics fits into the overall global picture of ending war and human suffering and creating peace.
After the events of September 11, 2001, the hope that the Dalai Lama predicted in 1999 seems to have faded as the threat of war in Europe has declined only to be replaced by soaring wars and tensions in the Middle East and Asia. I believe there is a need for another call for a spiritual revolution and a revival of the reading and practice of the principles laid down in the book. That is why I am offering an opportunity to read and begin serious practice of the principles of spiritual ethics in an eight week class that will begin April 30, 2013. The cost of the class is $50 per person and will be limited to 10 people. For more information or registration, you may pick up flyers at the James Twyman Concert on Friday, April 12 at the Florence Playhouse (Florence, Oregon) or email me at As Gandhi said in his simple, matter of fact way: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Peace begins with me.