Where are the counter forces that can build the world we want? That’s what the Dalai Lama calls us to create. His unique perspective gives him a clear sense of where the human family goes wrong and what we can do to get on track to a better story—one that no longer incessantly repeats the tragedies of the past but faces the challenges of our time with the inner resources to alter the narrative.
He envisions a much-needed antidote: a force for good. More than anyone I’ve ever known, the Dalai Lama embodies and speaks for that better force. We first met in the 1980s, and over the decades I’ve seen him in action dozens of times, always expressing some aspect of this message. And for this book he has spent hours detailing the force for good he envisions.
That force begins by countering the energies within the human mind that drive our negativity. To change the future from a sorry retread of the past, the Dalai Lama tells us, we need to transform our own minds—weaken the pull of our destructive emotions and so strengthen our better natures. The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World
Without that inner shift, we stay vulnerable to knee-jerk reactions like rage, frustration, and hopelessness. Those only lead us down the same old forlorn paths. But with this positive inner shift, we can more naturally embody a concern for others—and so act with compassion, the core of moral responsibility. This, the Dalai Lama says, prepares us to enact a larger mission with a new clarity, calm, and caring.We can tackle intractable problems, like corrupt decision-makers and tuned-out elites, greed and self-interest as guiding motives, the indifference of the powerful to the powerless.
By beginning this social revolution inside our own minds, the Dalai Lama’s vision aims to avoid the blind alleys of past movements for the better. Think, for instance, of the message of George Orwell’s cautionary parable Animal Farm: how greed and lust for power corrupted the “utopias” which were supposed to overthrow despots and help everyone equally but in the end re-created the power imbalances and injustices of the very past they were supposed to have eradicated. …
The Dalai Lama has traveled the world for decades, meeting with people of every background, social level, and outlook—all contributing to his perspective. The people he routinely engages range from denizens of shantytowns—from São Paulo to Soweto—to heads of state and Nobel-winning scientists. To his vast range of encounters he brings his own unflagging motivation: compassion. He sees the oneness of humanity—the we—rather than getting lost in the us-and-them differences. The issues faced by “our human family,” as he calls it, are global, transcending boundaries, like the growing gap between rich and poor and the inexorable decay from human activities of the planetary systems that support life.
From this rich mix, the Dalai Lama has fashioned a plan that can bring hope, drive, and focus to us all—a map we can turn to in orienting our own lives, in understanding the world, assessing what to do, and how to shape our shared future.
His vision for humanity, like the man himself, embodies a way of being and perceiving that upends many values rampant today. He envisions a world more caring and compassionate, one wiser in dealing with our collective challenges—a world more suited tothe demands of an interconnected planet. And this vision of what could be goes beyond wishful thinking to offer the seeds of the pragmatic antidotes we need more urgently than ever.
Excerpts from Daniel Goleman’s A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, Chapter One. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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