I’m no stranger to the Dalai Lama’s writings and conversations. An Appeal to the World: The Way of Peace in a Time of Division didn’t fundamentally shift my understanding of his point of view. However, it did give me a chance to reflect on some of the positions that I’ve observed through his writings.
This is a short book. It is only 128 pages in its printed form. As a result, there isn’t much to say – nor many notes from me to pull from in writing this review. The good news is if you’re looking for a quick read to understand the Dalai Lama’s position on peace in general, this can be a place to start
You cannot give what you do not have. It’s a simple axiom. It stands to reason, then, that if you want to give the world peace, then you have to have peace yourself. We’ll never convince our world to resolve its differences if we can’t resolve our differences with other people. We can’t hope to find forgiveness and acceptance if we’re not willing to practice it ourselves.
To create peace in the world, we need to first create peace in ourselves. We must learn to let go of anger and hate. We need to learn how to cultivate understanding, acceptance, and compassion.
The Path to Peace
Finding world peace has become a cliché that’s used in movies and pop culture to represent an unobtainable goal. On a personal level, many people believe that they’ve got a pathway to peace. They believe that they have figured out the one answer to inner peace.
In a sense, I’m sure they have. They’ve figured out their way to their inner peace. They’ve found the perfect recipe that leads them to calm. However, if you’ve ever been to a chili cookoff, you probably know there is more than one path to great food, and the same is the case with inner peace.
Just like there are some common ingredients in chili – no matter what the recipe – there are some common components in the cultivation of inner peace.
- Patience – The patience to accept that not everything happens in the present moment.
- Detachment – Recognizing the impermanence of life and how everything has a time – and how we don’t control outcomes, we only influence them.
- Acceptance – Reality is what it is. People are who they are. We’re not going to directly change those facts, and to attempt to do so denies the fundamental reality of the world.
- Empathy – Our ability to connect with others is hard-wired into us. When we “understand this about you,” we connect with others and align more fully to the way we are created.
- Compassion – Compassion is a desire to alleviate the suffering of another, which, obviously, requires empathy. But it goes further and recognizes that we’ve become the dominant life form on the planet by helping each other.
The techniques that are used to include these ingredients together may be meditation or something else, but these components make up the core of any good path towards inner peace.
Our Better Selves
If the goal is greater world peace, and that comes through greater inner peace, then all that is left is how to cultivate that in everyone. The list above are a set of characteristics or states that lead to peace in each of us. However, what are the paths to these?
In most of the world – particularly the Western world – education is focused on the technical, logical, and rational endeavors of the mind. While we recognize that we’re an embodied cognition that includes both rational and emotional components, for the most part, we train and skill ourselves in only those things which we can touch and measure.
That’s why the Dalai Lama suggests that we need education of the heart.
Education of the heart
So, what is education of the heart? What is it that we’d teach? A list from the book appears below – with my descriptions:
- Love – Most of the time, it appears that the intent is loving kindness, or the Greek word agape used for God’s love or universal love. Love comes naturally to humans, but in many people, it is snuffed out or reduced to embers that don’t resemble the burning fire that we start with.
- Compassion – As mentioned above, this is the desire to alleviate someone else’s suffering. At times, the Dalai Lama has appeared to use the words love and compassion interchangeably.
- Justice – What is right for everyone isn’t always easy to see. Learn to see another’s point of view and accept a need to find a solution for all.
- Forgiveness – This is letting go of the hurt that someone has caused you; without allowing it to continue is essential to prevent the escalation of violence.
- Carefulness – Here, I might use the word “mindfulness.” It’s simply paying attention to what you’re doing and caring how that would impact others.
- Tolerance – Another word might be “acceptance.” Allowing other people to be who they are if they’re not harming you.
- Peace – Not a singular thing but a set of things that result in an undisturbed mind.
You can’t test the results of education of the heart with a standardized test. You don’t ever arrive at completion, but perhaps if we can educate the heart, we can answer the Dalai Lama’s Appeal to the World.