James Doty: Before we begin the formal program I would like to formally thank some of the co-sponsors, Steve Lusel, who’s unfortunately not able to be with us today, Chad Ming Tan, who is with us today, the Dalai Lama Foundation and the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT.
Compassion can do extraordinary things to improve the lives of individuals. Science has shown this to be the case for both the giver and the receiver. Unfortunately, the lack of compassion can be devastating. In the business world, for many this translates into stress and anxiety and comes at a huge cost in terms of lost days from work, increased healthcare costs, and decreased productivity. In the US it’s estimated that stress and anxiety and depression cost two to three hundred billion dollars yearly.
Yet we know that based on a number of scientific studies, that when individuals work in an environment that is felt to be compassionate, this is when they function at their best and are most creative. Some feel that the obligation of business is to maximally extract the most from every worker, believing that workers are an easily replaceable commodity.
We are unique in Silicon Valley in that the top engineering talent is probably our greatest asset and is not easily replaceable, and thus we see companies who bend over backwards to offer what they perceive as every benefit – free food, shuttles, a variety of other services. Yet what is the greatest expenditure in healthcare costs for these companies? It remains stress, anxiety and depression.
Healthcare is a business in the United States, a huge business now consuming almost 20 percent of our gross domestic product. It is the most costly care in the industrialized world with the lowest rate of patient satisfaction. It also scores in the lowest quadrant in metrics regarding healthcare outcomes in the industrialized world and remains the most expensive.
Until the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act we were the only one of ten industrialized countries in the world that did not offer universal healthcare to its citizens and relieve the burden of the 40 million who did not have health insurance.
I spoke of the epidemic of depression, stress and anxiety in the workplace. This plays itself out in the hospital workplace as well. In fact, the hospital environment in the US by percentage of employees affected have some of the highest levels of stress and anxiety among its workers including physicians and nurses, many of whom are deeply dissatisfied by the reality that medicine for them has become a business, it seems.
In terms of patients, outcomes are affected by this reality and many are dissatisfied with their care. What are the ethical obligations of business to its employees? What is the solution to the epidemic of depression, stress and anxiety? Is there a different approach to the business of business and the business of healthcare that will translate into a happier and more productive workforce, and in the context of healthcare, better outcomes for the patient.
Today we have two individuals, extraordinary in their own ways, who will be sharing their experience and insights – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who for over three decades has travelled the world to educate us on the importance of compassion and caring. But what many of you may not know about His Holiness is that he has been at the forefront of the scientific research, the neuroscience research related to the effects of meditation on the brain, and the effects of compassion on the brain. And this has stimulated a revolution in science and we are starting to see the reality that being compassionate increases one’s health, increases one’s well being, and increases one’s longevity. Today he will share his insights into the importance of compassion in all areas of life, and especially in regards to the workplace where many of us spend the majority of our waking hours.
Our second speaker, Lloyd Dean, arose from humble beginnings to head one of the largest healthcare chains in the United States. He has transformed Dignity Health from losing a million dollars a day for the three years prior to his becoming CEO, from what was then known as Catholic Healthcare West, to one of the most fiscally sound healthcare companies in the United States, while maintaining its original mission to serve the poor and the sick. He continues to transform the company and the healthcare industry, focusing on what Francis Peabody said in 1927, which is that the secret of care of the patient is caring for the patient. The tagline for this initiative is called Human Kindness, demonstrating what the scientific literature has shown, which is that human connection helps us heal. Today he will share his insights regarding the business of medicine, our ethical obligations to our fellow humans, and his personal insights into how to make the business of medicine more human.
We will begin with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Thank you.
Dalai Lama: Respected elder brothers and sisters, and younger brothers and sisters. Indeed I am very happy having this opportunity to sit together and talk. An amount of huge crowd here. Some are long time my friend. [Talking to translator] [Laughing]
Audience: We love you, Dalai Lama.
Dalai Lama: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. [Laughs] Then wherever I go I always talk how to become a happy individual, happy family, happy society, or community. Then, finally, there are 7 billion human beings—actually everyone has the right to be a happy person. But really, generally, I think too much emphasis about material value. I think neglect about our inner value. I think that is the reason for a lot of trouble, a lot of unhappiness persons, in spite materially quite successful, but as a human being, unhappy person. That’s been noticed.
So now here I want to say in the beginning, those small children, who beautifully sang, when I saw these young children, I automatically reflect on my own childhood. So, my family, not wealthy or influential, but simply ordinary farmers. I think in my family the richness is my mother’s affection. Because of my mother’s affection, in our home: full of joy.
I often am telling people: When I was there, I’m the youngest child, so naturally mother takes more care about the youngest. So, as a boy in farm land, no other facility play all these things, but my mother used to carry me on her shoulder while she’s working in farms or looking after animals like that. So I really enjoyed when my mother used to carry me and then go here and there. Then eventually I tried to control my mother’s movement, hold my mother’s two ears. If I wanted to go this side, go like that, this side, go like that. If my mother don’t follow my wish, then go like that. [Pounds fists up and down]
So I feel fortunately, all my university brothers and sisters, I think we never saw our mother’s angry face. Really wonderful. Really wonderful. So I feel now, I always feel, Oh, that’s the real blessing I grew up with—that blessing from my mother. So certainly later, of course training involves the value of compassion, in combination with human intelligence, so that immense help. But the original seed comes from my mother.
So then here is everybody in the hall, and a further look, seven billion human beings, all received maximum affection from their mother, from their parents. So these young, young children, at young age, the real value of affection is very, very strong, very fresh. Now the question, why seven billion human beings come from their mother, and nurtured by mother’s milk, then grown up with mother’s affection, or parents’ affection, then why does many people never bother about this inner value, but rather it is just because of the human intelligence, and then sometimes intelligence with self-centered attitude and materialistic life. So then these sort of unhappy people happen. And then also not only unhappy individually, but really create a lot of problems and don’t care about others’ rights, and manipulate others’ rights, and use or exploit other. So a lot of unhealthy sort of things among the humanity, not only in the past human history, but even today happen.
So now that situation is truly now helpless if there is nothing one can do about it? No. Basic human nature is more gentleness because as I mentioned earlier, we are all equipped with affection. And after all, we are social animal. So biologically there is strong tendency in our emotion, something which bring together. So individual survivor depend on rest of the community. So cooperation, as is in the lyrics of one of the songs talked about cooperation. By nature, as a social animal we really need that. So full of hatred, full of suspicion and distrust, how can we develop genuine cooperation?
So therefore basically we are equipped with the seed of compassion. Now the problem at the young age, these are very, very fresh, very alive, but then grown up, neglecting these things. So in a materialistic way of life, then these are not necessarily of relevance. So therefore we need special effort to educate people, to remind people the affectionate feeling or attitude that this whole rest of life is something very important. With that strong feeling, every human activity can be more compassionate action, no matter what field.
Now, for example, economy. Economy development meantime creates corruptions, or gap rich and poor, exploitations. These clearly show lack of affection. Lack of respect for others’ right. Lack of awareness about others’ feeling.
Any other human activities—even warfare, carried with human affection, the damage would really be limited. So therefore warm-heartedness or affectionate sort of mental attitude is something very, very important if we want seven billion human beings on this planet more happier ones, we need that.
And also, environment issue. Just self-centered attitude and materialistic thinking, then no worry about environment. Individual environment not directly immediately affected, but when we think in terms of seven billion human beings, then ecology is so important. And other animals. In some cases it’s over-fishing. Some now fish and the number disappeared. Terrible. So we have no sort of sense of respect of lives.
So therefore, now the main thing I believe, through education, through kindergarten up to university level, we must include teaching of compassion or teaching of warm-heartedness. Not simply love, compassion is something holy or something important, precious, not that way. It’s something very relevant in order to become happy human being, happy family.
Now, health also, now very much needed, as you briefly mentioned. Health also. Medical scientists now really found through their research and experiments a more compassionate mind automatically develops calm mind, because compassionate mind creates self-confidence and inner strength. So that brings more calm mind. That’s extremely helpful to maintain healthy body. With inner strength, more compassionate, less anxiety, less stress. No matter what busy work, but will not create much stress.
If you take a more self-centered attitude, then more anxiety, more stress. That is what automatically creates hypocrite way, saying something nice, doing something different. That destroys trust from others. Without trust, how can develop genuine friendship. And you yourself will not be happy, but deep inside, lonely feeling. You can’t trust in this, can’t trust in this. And you carry your life more hypocrite way, and deep inside, much anxiety.
Anxiety brings anger. Anger destroys our health and friendly atmosphere in our home. So, you see, thinking deeper way, then the compassion is something very, very important. Every human activity carried with compassion then become more human way and constructive and beneficial.
I think we, humans of history, the medical as they said, usually taking care about others’ life, others’ well-being. I think modernized medical care, then, as you mentioned “business.” [Laughs] One time I heard some of my friend, she told me some financial field is the construction of prisons. So a lot of construction of prisons, so need prisoner. [Laughs] Strange. And I think only business way we need more sick people, then more opportunity to make money, isn’t it?
So these things really only think of money. Then also if you think only money, then those military factory, you see, use more bullet, more production, more weapon for selling weapons in different parts of the world. Really terrible. So business field certainly more ethics are very important, then of course health or education in every field. Then I think basically compassion brings mental peace, mental comfort. Economy, material bring us physical comfort. Since we have this mind and physical, we need both. If you only talk compassion without thinking material government, then that’s unrealistic, not practical.
We need, now today, out of seven billion, a lot of people are under poverty. Really terrible. In big cities, particularly in Asia, a lot of homeless people, street children, same as you and me. I feel there is not sufficient resources to take care of these, but quite often we see just ignored.
The other day in Delhi, two or three months ago, one day I’m passing through in the car. A lot of people coming and going. One girl, handicapped, cannot walk properly, with two sticks she was walking. Then her eye, I noticed, with sunken eyes, a glaze over them, because of an indication of hopelessness. A lot of people coming and going, nobody pay attention about that. I really feel very sad.
So we really need to educate about sense of concern of others’ well-being. So this is for one’s own happiness—concern about one’s own happiness, more taking care about others’ well being, give more happiness to others, you get maximum happiness. Forget others’ well being, tend to one’s self, the result, you suffer more. So that way we can teach people.
Since many years I have expressed: We are selfish. But be wise selfish rather than short-sighted selfish. So these things really depend on education. So that’s my view. Thank you. Now some furthermore…
Lloyd Dean: Thank you, well done, thank you very much.
Dalai Lama: Thank you!
Lloyd Dean: Thank you! Thank you! Let me begin by saying good morning to all of you. Today is truly, truly one of the greatest days of my life. To have this opportunity to be on this stage with His Holiness is a dream come true. And I am so honored and so thankful and want to thank His Holiness for his wisdom and for his inspiration to all of us.
I will tell you, when I got the invitation for this wonderful event, I asked the person, I said, “Where is it going to be held?” And he said, “It’s going to be, you know, where the Broncos play.” I said, “But I love the 49ers.” And they said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, you’re going to be fine because it’s going to be in Santa Clara at this wonderful, wonderful institution and you will be very close not only to the Broncos but to your San Francisco 49ers.” So I am happy to be here.
You know, one of the great things that we all have is friends, and I was so excited about this opportunity, I called one of my friends, and I said, “You aren’t going to believe this. I am going to be on stage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” And like a true friend, I thought this individual would be happy for me, would be excited. He said, “Uh-oh!” He said, “Who’s going to speak first?” I said, “His Holiness is going to speak first.” And he said, “Uh-oh, you’re in deeper trouble than I thought, because have you ever heard him speak?” and I said yes. And he said, “There is nothing that you can say that will be on par to his wisdom and to his words.”
But I am thrilled to be here, and I can tell you that I am going to be brief with my comments. But I thought it would be relevant to highlight my organization, Dignity Health, as one example, and only as one example of an organization that is trying to build a culture of compassion for those that we are privileged to serve and for our employees.
In some ways, all of the folks here who are associated with organizations and businesses are very much the same, but in a few ways, we are different. Dignity health is a non-profit healthcare provider. Our roots as an organization go back more than a century, when eight Sisters of Mercy arrived in San Francisco to care for the sick. They were not concerned about money, they were not concerned about the complexities of running a large business. They were concerned about providing healthcare to the poor and to the underserved.
In those eight sisters, the Sisters of Mercy, and now Dignity Health is sponsored by seven orders of religious women, still today have the same mission that they did back a century ago. And that was to do everything humanly possible to heal the mind, the body and the spirit. It was their faith that inspired them to do so. But to do that, they deployed kindness and love. In fact, some of the threads of our Catholic heritage and social teachings are very closely related to Buddhist thought, particularly around the encouragement of healing human beings from the inside out, as well as treating people with dignity and with respect.
So compassion isn’t just a business strategy, it is at the core of who we are. And for each of you, compassion and kindness should be a key element of your business or your enterprise. Now, all of us in business face similar challenges, as we do. We are confronted with difficult decisions every day. Those decisions may be operational, those decisions may be financial. All of us, we operate at a time of tremendous change within our society, within our world, and within our various business sectors. And we are all being asked to do more, but with less.
Our employees are working long and tortuous hours. They are working in environments that is demanding constant change and constant movement. But within all of that there is one common element, and that is, ladies and gentlemen, that we are all human beings. I believe, and His Holiness has said many times that within us holds the potential for limitless compassion and kindness and love. It is not always easy in the hustle and bustles of the lives that we live to remember that and to bring those values to the surface of what we do each and every day.
So it is one thing for all of us to hold hands and to agree on the importance of kindness and compassion as a guiding value, but it is through our acts, through our decisions that we make, where the truth really comes forward. So the question is, how do we bring this truth, this kindness, this humanity, to life? How do we build, as His Holiness has called for, a culture of compassion?
I will acknowledge that his work is difficult and it’s ongoing. None of us are perfect, certainly not myself. So there is a lot of trial and a lot of error. But there are a few broad principles we try to follow that I think may and hope will resonate with you, your companies and your organization.
The first principle has to do with how we make big important decisions. We have a process that we call our values-based decision-making process. What that means is that we must hear and we must listen to the people who are going to be impacted and affected by these decisions that we make. And we must carefully weigh how will our employees, how will our patient, how will our communities be impacted by our decisions?
An example. We have a hospital in Southern California, in the Los Angeles area, and today that hospital continues to lose money. It is a very difficult community, even though it is going through a transition. But it is a community that serves the poorest and the most vulnerable within the LA basin. We are not there because it makes money. We are there to fill a need. If we were to close or if we were to leave that hospital, that community, patients would have to go to other communities for their services – if they would be served. So in many situations, if not us, then who?
The second principle has to do with encouraging not so random acts of kindness. We have something that we call no one – no one dies alone. And what that means is that we are committed to insuring that for every patient who faces that juncture in life, that there is another human being there by their side touching them and giving them the love that they can.
The third principle I believe applies to every business in this country. And I believe that demonstrating kindness and demonstrating humanities to communities is an obligation. It is not a nicety. We are called to do that as corporate citizens.
We must also be good stewards of our environment. I am deeply troubled every day when I turn on the news and I look at the weather. Our world is upside-down. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is not by accident. So we must focus on not just what we do, but how we do it. And if we do that, I think we have the highest probability of doing what is right, what is moral, and what is ethical.
I want to end on two quick stories. The first came from my own experience. As was said in the introduction, I grew up in a family of nine kids, my father worked in a factory on and off, and I think all the way through junior high we were on public assistance, we were on welfare. And in my community there was not one health services, nothing, nothing. No community-based services, nothing.
I watched my grandfather die at an early age from something that if he was living today he would live a long and prosperous life. I watched my grandmother die from a disease that with immunization she would have lived a more longer and fruitful life. So every day my friends and their parents, looking at them, I witnessed the toll that the lack of compassionate healthcare can have on communities and an individual.
So I said to myself in a prayer that if I ever have the opportunity to be in a position within a healthcare organization – and I have that opportunity with what I think is one of the most wonderful organizations providing healthcare – I was not going to let those that I could help die early because of a lack of healthcare because of where they life, for no other reasons.
Let me end with this. One of our housekeepers went into a room. We now call the environmental service workers, but for the sake of our discussion, housekeepers. And when she went into the room to clean the room, she saw this wonderful woman laying there, and she started talking to her about her situation. And the lady said that I am here because I just had surgery from breast cancer. And the housekeeper immediately said, and connected, and said, “I also had surgery from breast cancer.” And they talked and shared their experiences. And this housekeeper took the time to touch her, to listen, and to be kind, and to be compassionate.
Later the patient did very well, and when she got home she sent us a letter back. And she said the following: “I want you to know the clinical care was excellent, but it was your housekeeper who saved my life. She gave me hope.” So that is why I stand here today. I don’t believe that compassion and kindness is an extra. I believe that it is a right and a calling that we must answer. And every business, every business should have as its principle how in what we do will it impact our community individuals and are we doing the right thing on this quest to reach our other obligations?
Compassion and kindness, ladies and gentlemen, costs very, very little, but yields endless returns, and we must seize this moment. Together we can unleash a force of positive change that our world and our society so desperately needs. May God bless you and thank you for being here.
Dalai Lama: Wonderful. Thank you, thank you.
James Doty: Your Holiness, you heard Lloyd talk about his own background of suffering, which in many ways has defined his actions as a business leader and his actions and interactions towards and with others. Sometimes individuals grow up in very affluent backgrounds where they do not have a need and oftentimes this imbues them with the sense that they deserve everything or they don’t appreciate what they’ve been given. Sometimes they lack gratitude. How can individuals who sometimes don’t see the suffering of others – and we’ve seen scientific evidence that in fact demonstrates that oftentimes individuals of higher socioeconomic classes don’t appreciate the suffering of those around them.
Dalai Lama: I feel sometimes, I think President Assad, Syrian president, I think he needs some compassion, but if you meet him, how can you teach him compassion? I think it’s difficult. [Laughs] So these things, it’s very difficult to come up with something that you can just use it right at the moment, at that very moment. Like I think physical health. For example, in the case of physical health, it’s a gradual development that creates a physical constitution. So similarly these mental sort of qualities also through training a person who never sort of pay attention to these things makes it difficult to give them some kind of conviction. I don’t know. Unless they have some immediate misfortune they experience. Then perhaps someone is showing empathy or concern, then he or she may then appreciate the value of affection.
So that’s why we need a systematic sort of plan to educate people. I believe this is just the beginning of the 21st Century. So if we plan properly and implement, then mid part of the 21st Century could be more compassionate society. Could be. That’s the only way. We have to think, we have to sort of make an effort. Now fortunately in many places the word compassion now becomes more and more significant. That itself is one positive sign, a sign of hope. So now various fields, various professional fields, we see more research and more effort. I think perhaps 20 years ago I think very few people sit talking about the value of compassion, these things. Now including scientists sit talking.
Religious people, of course, a thousand years talk or practice love, forgiveness, tolerance, these things, but it has been limited. Now the problem, humanity’s problem, so humanity, out of seven billion, today’s population, out of seven billion, over one billion actually non-believers. So I say we need besides religious training, we need some way of approach which can include all those non-believers. So usually I call according to an Indian sort of tradition, the secular. The secular in the west, they have this sort of impression, secularism, and it is some connection, according to Indian understanding, the secular means respect all religions. Appreciate all religions. Then also you should respect non-believer.
So that’s why the modern India’s constitution is based on secularism, not at all some kind of negative towards religions, but respect all religions. I think so we can – we need, I feel, the approach towards humanity to promote compassion of modern ethics through secular way than I feel that is more universal. So anyway, some scientists and also some educationists, are already sort of working, and in this country some organizations, implementing the promotion of secular ethics through secular way. Your response now.
Lloyd Dean: Before I respond I just want to say His Holiness, would you be willing – I think it’s so cool having an interpreter – could I borrow your interpreter for about six months? Because he’s very good, I like him.
Dalai Lama: Good. [Laughs]
Lloyd Dean: I like him, I need an interpreter. But to the question I would say the following. Back some months ago we commissioned a study, and that was a study of a number of people from all social economic stratas – rich and poor – all ethnic diversities. And here’s what the study told us. And I think it’s very relevant to your question. That without regard to one’s social economic status, we asked the people the question: When you think about your healthcare experience, what is it that is missing? And in unison they said it is kindness and compassion and me being treated not as a number but as a person and a human being. And that I would like for my healthcare professional to look me in the eye and address me by my name, not patient Dean in 309.
So regardless of ethnicity, regardless of economic position, we are all humans, and we all want the same thing. We want to be treated with dignity, we want to be treated with respect, and we want to be acknowledged that we are here in the presence. So I think every organization, in every company, and regardless of the walk of life that we all come from, we can do that. We can do that. Is that too much to ask that we treat you different than we as human beings would like to be treated?
Dalai Lama: My only experience, of course to say some occasion I was hospitalized, then doctors, nurses approached to me with smile, with some kind of senses of expression, and I feel safe. Sometimes the nurses carry some instrument, no smile, no sort of showing any sort of human affection, and sometimes I’m getting feeling, Oh, this person may carry some experiment on my physical. [Laughs] So doctor may be very, very professional, expert. But here now is a Tibetan saying, they say—I used to hear this when I was young in Tibet, in Lhasa. People used to say of such and such physician: very good sort of profession, but heart not that much good. So his medicine not very helpful, effective. So such and such a doctor, profession may not be very high but very warmhearted, so his medicine more effective.
So we are living beings. I think the trees or flowers, some people say even flowers, showing more sort of positive words, the flower grows better, or scold, scold, scold the flower, that I don’t know. But we are living, so the feeling is very, very important. So compassion provides them enthusiasm, the will. So as far as illness is concerned, willingness or inner strength, the patient side, they recover much faster. And in order to develop that, the doctors and the nurses must provide patients – kind or some kind of encouragement.
Lloyd Dean: I would just say I’ve had the opportunity to read some of His Holiness’ comments about the power of a smile, and he was just commenting on when he has been in the presence of a doctor and a nurse that if they’re not smiling, he gets worried.
Dalai Lama: And also, the smile also – there are different kinds of smiles. Some sarcastic smile. Some diplomatic smile. So these sometimes instead of feeling happy, sometimes develop more suspicion. So genuine human smile, that’s really wonderful.
Lloyd Dean: I agree, because you reminded me, I was thinking, and all the males in this audience know that once you get 50 there’s an exam that you get once a year. And when they put on that glove and they’re smiling, that’s problematic. That is a serious, serious situation. So I agree with you, that’s not the time we want a smile, that’s right.
James Doty: I’m not sure where to take it from there. [Laughter]
Dalai Lama: [Laughing] Good example.
Lloyd Dean: He said that was an excellent example.
James Doty: Uh, where were we? One of the things I had mentioned earlier was the fact that here in Silicon Valley we have this incredible engineering talent, and these incredibly profitable companies who try – I think they feel – to give employees these incredible benefits. But what happens I think sometimes is that by giving the benefits, maybe it’s not compassion they’re giving them, but creating a situation where they work even harder, thinking that by giving these types of benefits it somehow benefits them. We see a situation where we continue to have extraordinary levels of depression, anxiety and stress within some of our most well known companies in the world at this point, of which have originated in Silicon Valley.
What do you feel could best be done to alleviate these types of stresses that are so prevalent in the workplace, and actually are so injurious to our longterm health?
Dalai Lama: I think you can give I think better answer. I don’t know. I have not much experience with these things. I think you know better.
Lloyd Dean: I would say the following. And I know and have friends that work at a number of the companies that you are referencing, and I would say that they are great companies but the question that you raise is relevant and one that I think needs to be explored. Many of the benefits that these new up and coming companies are giving I think are good. The fact that people are getting childcare facilities placed upon their campuses, I think that’s a good thing. The fact that people can exercise and that these campuses are being built not only environmentally friendly but built in a way that people have to walk, and these kinds of things are encouraged.
I think where the damage happens, and where I think your question is rightly focused, is that when the benefits – really it’s the intention that goes with it. If the benefits are so that people never leave work and work 16 hours a day, whether you’re giving me a free dinner or a free lunch becomes irrelevant because you’re helping me increase stress and not have a good quality of life.
So I think that it’s really, Jim, about intent, purpose, because you’re right, you look at some of the statistics, it says that some of those companies have higher prescriptions of Xanax and higher stress levels and even some of the young employees are experiencing all kinds of traumatic, if you will, symptoms that are clearly induced by the work environment.
So I think there’s a delicate balance there between good intent and appropriate benefits, but I think we have to be very, very cautious that it is not being driven by a profit motive behind that, and that there is a goodness and there is an objective of having a balance. Yes, we want people to work hard, and God knows in healthcare our people – our nurses, all of our professionals and clinicians, and all of our employees work very hard. They work very long hours, they’re in very stressful situations. But for me to give someone that’s working a 12-hour shift a dinner, and then ask him to work 18 hours, I think is in conflict with our values and that issue of the whole person – the mind, the body, I think, begins to be compromised.
James Doty: Your Holiness, one of the students, and we had students submit questions, and in some ways related to this in that they wanted to work at a prominent company, but at the same time they were concerned that it may compromise their values. Do you have any advise for young people who on the one hand want to be what maybe their parents described as successful, but are very concerned about the cost it may have for them. What advice would you give them in terms of making a career decision?
Dalai Lama: Difficult to say, difficult to say. I’ve got the impression, modern society and lifestyle and basically materialistic lifestyle, including existing education, some kind of materialistic culture. So something like big mission, you are part of the mission. Unless gradually some sort of a change, the whole sort of mission, individual, whether individual accept and are are happy or not, have to go according to that big mission. That’s my view.
But then you say how to change this? Again, not easy. The only hope is through education and also family values, gradually I think the whole generation will have a little bit different thinking, not only materialistic values, but some other values. Then businessmen or businesspeople, politicians, administrators, the various fields who come from that kind of education and that kind of culture and environment, then I think some real change. Otherwise this idea of good, system good, but individual who carry this, then very difficult.
I think the 20th century, I think different ideas, different sort of system, the original motivation may be good, but then a person who involved that, not morally ethical, then quite often… Of course, my knowledge is very, very limited. But look at those socialist countries. The idea, for example, Marxist economy, very much concerned about equal distribution. Idea good, but people… Now look at China. Supposed socialist country, huge gap between rich and poor, a lot of corruptions. Difficult. India also. Very religious-minded nation but a lot of corruptions. Everywhere, I think everywhere.
Lloyd Dean: And I would just respond to that young man or young lady with this. My experience has taught me that if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, and if you are not passionate about what you’re doing, and if every night you go home questioning the morals and the ethics of what you’re doing – my mother had a phrase, and I think it’s relevant here. She said, “What is done in the dark will eventually come to the light.” And what that means is that eventually that job or that opportunity is going to wear and you will become frustrated. And while it may answer an economic question, it will create personal angst for you.
You know, I have two kids, and one of them is here today. And I have to be honest with you, I was pretty thrilled when they got a job after college. As a matter of fact, I was ecstatic when they got a job. But as a parent, I would not want my children to be doing something that ethically and morally they felt they were being forced to do, when within their value construct they felt it was wrong. And I think that applies all around the world if we have a choice.
James Doty: Thank you. We are running out of time and I told Father Engh that I would give him a question, since he’s been so patient sitting there. So the question is, what advice do you have for your students regarding the decisions they’re going to make about their future?
Father Engh: And that’s close to the question that I was going to ask His Holiness. Because so many young people are trying to find their way in what they believe. They’re not sure what they believe, what path they should follow. And here at Santa Clara we teach our students to be people of competence and conscience and compassion. So many want to be compassionate and they want to follow conscience, but they’re looking for that in their life, that ideal that will guide them. I was wondering what advice you would give them in terms of discerning that belief to follow. Where do they look for that? Where do they find that – that belief that they can follow in life?
Dalai Lama: I usually feel, as I mentioned earlier, too much self-centered any action, too much self-centered attitude actually is harmful to one’s own interest. So these, human intelligence is telling us, are you remain honest, truthful, you will be successful. So one important factor is how to be able to use your own personal capacity for discernment. So then for your own interest it is better if there’s a possibility to help other, serve other, at least if not, resist in harming other. So then your activities can be honest, truthful, more compassionate.
So that must come to awareness—the value of these things, not some kind of … I think friendly speaking, with religious people it is sometimes something like compulsory to practice love and forgiveness. Not much the real conviction. So therefore among the religious people, also corrupted people there. So deep inside, not fully developed conviction about these values. So these not easily come through faith. Love God. As a Buddhist, love Buddha. But real firm conviction about his teaching, something really beneficial, short term, long term, real conviction there. Then the person sincerely implements this. Without conviction, then sometimes…
I was in Mexico, at a theological college, they invited me for some talk. Then I just expressed, sometimes religious people, our faith on our dress. So long as you dress that, you look small, religious person, holy person. When your dress is put aside, then no longer holy. [Laughs] So your faith must, must inside. So must be part of your life or your thinking. And that comes only through awareness from conviction through reasoning. So awareness, drawn from the application of discernment really is a key factor.