The Dalai Lama: Humanness and Oneness in Our World

Over many years of working in education I have been very fortunate to experience some extraordinary events and hear some wonderful people. None so more than when I was privileged to attend a small gathering of students and teachers at UWA to hear His Holiness The Dalai Lama deliver an address with great humour and wisdom; a rare combination in many of today's world leaders.

His key message is the need to keep in mind the concept of oneness in our world. So many times, we default to placing more importance on what we do and the positions we hold. We should understand that our shared humanness is the key to a functional globe. We are born and die the same. In essence, all that most of humanity strives for is to live a happy and purposeful life. When we focus too much on position and official status we are promoting these as being more important than the value of the individual regardless of what they do or the position they hold. Affection and love are the key factors for survival.

Given the forum was for students from many schools, his message focused on convincing them that the youth are our hope and that they hold the key to happiness or misery.

The students were challenged to consider how they could develop a better world that included less cheating, bullying and corruption. He was quick to point out that the answer did not lie in more technology; it could only be achieved through their brain and their hearts working in unity. When we focus on love and compassion between humans, we develop a stronger sense of tolerance and forgiveness in the world, something that is missing in so many places across the globe.

Three topics were addressed, including dealing with modern day stress as a student, the challenges facing Indigenous cultures and the increase in the radicalisation of youth.

In addressing stress, the message is simple in his eyes. Leaving things to the last minute, a fault the Dalai Lama admitted to as a student, just increases the pressure one may experience as part of a busy school and personal life. Lack of sleep is also an issue. Finally, he encourages student to visualize the positive outcomes and success that may result from their study and hard work. Trying to visualise your future can make the journey more palatable. It is always important to set yourself goals in order to provide both challenge and direction.

His Holiness' passion for Indigenous cultures was clearly evident His message about how can we improve on our Indigenous issues, lay in respecting all cultures and their unique origins. Preservation of all cultures is a right for the individual and critical to humankind. It is quite clear that all Indigenous cultures across the world face similar issues. In order to save cultures within a modern educational framework, isolation and separation is simply not an option. Health and education are seminal to addressing some of the key issues Indigenous communities are facing. A lack of either puts Indigenous culture and their people at risk. Indigenous people must have full confidence in their ability to achieve and grow. The brain and heart's capacity for emotions and education are all the same. Surface differences should and must not determine a person's future. We all have the capacity for positive as opposed to destructive emotions.

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On the issue of radicalisation of youth he believed the root of the problem is an ever-increasing focus on material success. This focus leads to exploitation and corruption. People who only value material success are easily manipulated to radicalism and encouraged to eradicate those who are seen as having what they should have. If we teach and promote moral principles purely based on religious difference, then we may create sources of conflict. High levels of religious passion can lead to fundamentalism and an unhealthy culture based on focusing on differences rather than commonalities. Given over 1 billon of the world's population are non-believers; the development of moral constructs purely centered on religion will isolate this group. Secular morality is not the desired outcome.

A more encompassing strategy is to focus on teaching moral development that takes into account three common threads shared by all religions.

Firstly, we must practice the message of love and build mutual respect, not difference. Secondly, we should come from a shared philosophical stance of extending love and acceptance to our fellow humans. Thirdly, we should never underestimate the importance of using stories to impart cultural mores. We need to celebrate difference as opposed to using it as a wedge between other cultures and people.

Focusing on the role of education and schools, His Holiness reminded us all that that we must base our moral teachings in schools through promoting whole heartedness, compassion, and a common experience based on commonsense. Teachers must demonstrate compassion and model action through service. In demonstrating care and uniqueness to their students their message will reach deeply into the students' hearts and minds leaving an indelible impression.

Finally, we all are faced with making decisions based on thinking what is right as opposed to feeling what is right. We must always canvass multiple views when making any decision. An individual still holds the key to their own moral compass and every situation must be treated as unique requiring new thought and consideration. Too often poor decision-making is based on generalizing from one situation to another.

Unfortunately, in a world where we face many challenges, it would appear that in many cases, fear and violence are given equal weighting to love and compassion.

As one would expect the message from his Holiness is simple yet profound. In a world where complexity and division are so prevalent, it was refreshing to hear a message of simplicity, hope, well-being and balance. The path to inner peace cannot be found in the pursuit of materialism, but through acting with compassion and love towards fellow human beings. The very act of assisting those less fortunate will bring us a feeling of satisfaction and happiness.

It is no coincidence that our College's core values focus on integrity, service and stewardship. Every word imparted by the Dalai Lama can be lived out through paying attention to what we already stand for at Scotch. Our focus on community and service, our International Baccalaureate curriculum and the learner profile and our membership of the Round Square group of schools will continue to ensure that our boys are exposed to an education that can never be fully measured by a simplistic and narrow University rank.

We must endeavor to value-add in the things that really matter; the development of Humanness and Universal Oneness.