Dalai Lama and Finding Common Ground
Yoda proposes that hate is the Dark Side of the Force (as talked about in my previous blog), but the Dalai Lama provides a solution to the problem. Finding common ground.
The Approach Of The Dalai Lama
One of the Dalai Lama’s most notable talents is his ability to connect with people. His approach to meeting people is to find the common ground. The common ground doesn’t need to be so profound; it’s just about finding something you have in common with the other person. Weather it’s football, kids, movies — let the common ground bridge you together.
The Dalai Lama takes this idea to the most basic level. He lives by a universal common ground: the idea that all people want to be happy. So, even if a person has different political or religious views than you, you both share the same goal of being happy and reducing suffering. The Dalai Lama says fundamental human needs, desires and emotions connect us with people who we view as “others.”
Who Is The “Other”?
The concept of the “other” served an evolutionary purpose. There was a survival value to fear and avoid what is different than us. At the most basic level, if we didn’t fear a predator (like lions) we’d probably be eaten.
The “other” has taken another meaning today, however. Now, we label someone as “other” according to race, culture, politics, age, religion, etc. This way of thinking creates a “separateness” an “us” “versus “them” mentality, which can be dangerous as evidenced by today’s political climate. We view each other as “ignorant” or “delusional,” and often ask ourselves, “How on Earth can people in their right mind support (or believe) _____!?” Unfortunately, both sides of the political spectrum say this, so in a way I guess it’s a universal common ground. But there has to be something else we can connect on.
What Can You Do?
Adopt the teaching of the Dalai Lama; view others in a way that fosters unity instead of dissension. Find a common ground to build relationships and reduce bitterness.
The first step is to stop vilifying people who are different you. Remember the Dalai Lama’s universal common ground. We all want to be happy and we are all trying our best in this often crazy world. Once we can get past our differences, we can better connect. As the saying goes: a house divided against itself cannot stand.
For More Information:
Interested in more Dalai Lama teachings? He has written a number of influential books. Regardless if you are Buddhist or not, the Dalai Lama is an inspiration to countless people, including myself. One of my favorite books by him (written with psychiatrist Dr. Howard Cutler) is The Art ofHappiness. It’s on my short list of most-life changing books that I have read, so I highly recommend it!