Being Nice

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama brings togeth...

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama brings together Buddhists and Western scientists every two years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dalai Lama through his talks and writing says:- Not only is compassion good for you because it will help you feel good and organize your mind in such a way that makes it more open to happiness, but it’s good for others, too, and being good for others mean that we live in a happier world.

In my previous posting I have written about how evolution first found a way for life to just survive, then went beyond that so as to allow individuals to live better within group settings, without grievously harming each other. Evolution continues to adopt or incorporate ideas that are successful through the gene pool of those who practice and are successful with living and reproducing. Those who are successful at living (I like to say living well) pass their genes to the next generation; and the wisdom and the practices of their ancestors gets carried forward to the next generation. Evolution over millions of years continue to refine and adopt useful practices. We maybe at an “evolutionary stage” where we are beginning to appreciate that ‘being nice’ is a better way to live well.

Todays I asked a group of my friends how many people they know who feel content with their lives. The answer was “not many.” There are many reasons for this and I will elaborate on this point on another occasion. Today I want to explore how we can develop sense of well-being and purpose, resulting in contentment and feeling of living well. I think Dalai Lama is wise in recommending compassion. If compassion had bad consequences like shortening your life or causing illness or discontentment I believe he would not recommend compassion. Having practiced compassion all his life, he knows first hand, what the benefits of compassion are and now even the new research is confirming what Buddhist have been saying for thousands of years, that compassion is good for both ourselves and others. The fact is that evolution has provided us with brain system that makes the ‘ the experience of compassion’ possible , and that compassion can organize our brain patterns in certain ways so as to  allow us to be nice. This cultivates within us a sense of well-being and purpose. It will allow us to have and feel compassion more deeply and for much wider group of individuals than just our family and friends.

Paul Gilbert writes:- Throughout the world, people want to care for others, to become nurses, doctors, social workers, teachers and alternative therapist. Throughout the world, people put their lives at risk to save others – think about such services as the police, peacekeepers, fire, sea and mountain rescue services. If we take the capitalist view, or look at how our history has been shaped by the darker sides of our nature, clashes of tribes and dominant males, it’s easy to forget that, although many of us want to have good lives ourselves, we also want to help and make a difference to others. When we fully acknowledge that we’ve woken up in a world of beauty but also one where many live in hellish conditions, we can see that there’s much we need to do with our science, social polices. and legal systems. In the heart of many is a genuine desire to improve the conditions of humans and , indeed, of all living things.

Our patterns of living will need to change if we are to be happy, healthy , able to love and be loved. Our current way of being; with our stress, striving and competitive social mentalities are getting us into trouble – not to mention what we are doing to the world around us.

Compassion, it seems, is our potential antidote.

Compassion is Consciousness...

The Compassionate Mind  by Paul Gilbert

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Being Good

I like to think that basic nature of humankind is goodness. This is a complete opposite to Hobbes view of humankind’s nature. He described man’s natural condition as “war of every man against every man“…he writes:

“In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

I find this view so alien to my experience of other fellow humans that it is inconceivable for me to imagine that this kind of world, even under the harshest conditions could exist. Would humans be humans if there was no love, caring or trust; do we display these qualities contrary to our nature? I choose to believe Hobbes was and is wrong. Hobbes it seems believed that humans are basically nasty but I believe humans are basically good; but under harsh conditions nastiness shows its ugly head. That’s why we have law enforcement and wars.

So how can we “be good” and avoid the ugly head of the nastiness? As Dalai Lama says …..”All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness,the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”

There are only one way to be good but many ways to be vicious; we have to know and act with the right attitude in all interactions with others. We all know what being overtly vicious and causing pain to others is and how to avoid it. What we often overlook is when we are indifferent to others in pain and mistakenly think that it doesn’t matter. How many times I walked past a beggar or poor person in the third world country or in the city and thought it’s not my problem….far too many time, more than I care to remember. I was too distracted or in too much of a rush….. it is easy to be indifferent.

It is no point in increasing ones own pleasure after a certain point because it doesn’t add any more value to pleasure one already has; it doesn’t bring more or lasting joy. However, if we were to take sometime to be compassionate it would bring joy both to us and to the person in need.

Cynicism can also be an ugly trait and one should try to avoid it. A cynic think world is a bad place. He doubts or despises human sincerity or merit. He thinks most people are basically selfish, their apparent concern for others is only a show, while the few genuinely unselfish souls are exploited, so only the bastards thrive. So far the cynic is being pessimistic, and mere pessimism isn’t a vice. But cynic goes further, instead of being saddened by people’s selfishness, he secretly delights in it, he wants the world to be bad and by wishful thinking persuades himself that it is. A cynic denies human goodness because he hates it and wants it not to exist, and that makes his cynicism a simple vice…..just like Hobbes’s….not conducive to being good.

So where is the problem? It’s not the lack of material goods, there is enough of that around. Its not the lack of knowledge. Maybe we have not yet learned to live well. Maybe we are still in the early stages of learning. Some commentators on human condition have said that we have come a long way with technology but not very far in wisdom. That maybe so, but we are loving and caring beings…..still evolving and learning. Let encourage each other to be good and speed up the natural process!


The Best things in Life, by ThomasHurka

Let Fellowship Be Our Purpose, Compassion Our Guide and Tranquility Our Reward.

May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure.

Pierre de Coubertin

Remember and help America remember that the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender in a democratic society.
Marian Wright Edelman

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Dalai Lama

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
Dalai Lama

I realized a while back that I have an innate ability to be compassionate, and I saw that the strength of compassion is something that healers have and healers use.’
Ricky Williams

Great tranquility of heart is his who cares for neither praise not blame.
Thomas Kempis

The real spiritual progress of the aspirant is measured by the extent to which he achieves inner tranquility.
Swami Sivananda






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