Notes & Quotes: My Spiritual Journey by the Dalai Lama

The following are my favorite notes from the Dalai Lama's My Spiritual Journey.
  1. No material object, no matter how beautiful or precious it is, can give us the feeling of being loved, because our deeper identity, our true character, is rooted in the subjective nature of the mind.
  2. Every human action becomes dangerous when it is deprived of human feeling. When they are performed with feeling and respect for human values, all activities become constructive.
  3. When I speak of kindness and compassion, I am not expressing myself as a Buddhist, or as the Dalai Lama, or as a Tibetan, but rather as a human being. And I hope that you also consider yourselves as human beings, rather than as Americans, Westerners, or members of one group or another. Such distinctions are secondary. When we speak as human beings, we can touch the essential thing.
  4. Each person's happiness can make a profound, effective contribution that can improve the entire human community.
  5. Real compassion is not just an emotional response; it is a firm, thought-out commitment. Therefore, an authentic attitude of compassion does not change, even faced with another person's negative behavior.
  6. True compassion is impartial and bears with it a feeling of responsibility for the welfare and happiness of others.
  7. An outburst of anger is in infallible sign of weakness.
  8. You must understand that even if your adversaries seem to be harming you, in the end their destructive activity will turn against them. To rein in your selfish impulse to retaliate, remember your desire to practice compassion and your responsibility to help others avoid suffering the consequences of their own actions.
  9. We must devote our efforts to developing peace of mind. According to my own experience, the highest level of inner calm comes from the development of love and compassion. The more concerned we are with the happiness of others, the more we increase or our own well-being. 
  10. In Tibetan monasticism, there are 253 rules for monks and 364 for nuns. By observing them as scrupulously as possible, I free myself from useless distractions and everyday concerns.
  11. As a Buddhist, I accept death as a normal process of life. I accept it as a reality that will occur for as long as I remain in samsara. Knowing that I cannot escape it, I don't see the point of worrying about it. I think that dying is a little like leaving behind used old clothing. It is not an end in itself.
  12. We all want to avoid suffering and be happy. We have an intimate experiential knowledge of both happiness and suffering that is common to all sentient beings.
  13. I believe the purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.
  14. Transforming the mind involves first learning to know it, then identifying how it functions so as to eliminate the three main mental poisons, which are ignorance, desire, and hatred. 
  15. By developing altruism, love, tenderness, and compassion, we reduce hatred, desire, and pride.
  16. The Buddha is called the Bhagavan -- in Tibetan, "One who has destroyed the four Maras," which are death, distractions, pride, and the emotional obscurations.
  17. Aryadeva tells us: "In the beginning, we must abandon all negative actions; in the middle, all attachment to ego; and in the end, all extremes, opinions or concepts."
  18. "If we haven't transformed ourselves, how will we help others transform themselves?" asks the Tibetan saint Tsongkhapa.
  19. Medical studies have shown that people who, in the language of everyday life, use the words "I," "me," or "mine" the most are more subject than others to cardiac diseases.
  20. We can do without religion, but not without spirituality.
  21. Religion implies a system of beliefs based on metaphysical foundations, along with the teaching of dogmas, rituals, or prayers. Spirituality, however, corresponds to the development of human qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, or a sense of responsibility.
  22. Human beings have constitutions, elaborate legal systems and police forces, religions, remarkable intelligence, and hearts endowed with the ability to love. But despite these extraordinary qualities, in actual practice we lag behind the smallest of insects.
  23. In the present circumstance, no one should assume that someone else will solve his problems. Everyone must assume his own share of universal responsibility.
  24. The practice of nonviolence applies not just to human beings but to all sentient beings. Everything that is animate possesses consciousness. Wherever there is consciousness, there are feelings like pain, pleasure, and joy. No sentient being wants to suffer. On the contrary, all beings search for happiness.
  25. It is not reprehensible for humans to use natural resources to serve their needs, but we should not exploit nature beyond what it strictly necessary.
  26. A clean environment is a human right like any other.
  27. In order to transform the situation outside, we must transform ourselves from within. If you want a beautiful garden, you must first sketch it out in your imagination and have a vision of it. Then the idea can be made concrete, and the external garden will materialize.
  28. Destruction of natural resources results from ignorance, from a lack of respect for the living things of the Earth, and from greed.
  29. When one is motivated solely by a selfish wish and cannot get what one wants through logic, one resorts to force. Even in the framework of a simple family argument or friendly disagreement, if you support yourself with valid reasoning, you will tirelessly defend your position, point by point. If you lack reasonable motives, however, you are soon overcome with anger, which is never a sign of strength, but of weakness.
  30. Without global solutions that include aspirations of the peoples most directly concerned, half-measures or expedients will only create additional problems.
  31. I have always forbidden my people to resort to violence in their efforts to put an end to their sufferings. I do believe, however, that a people has every moral right to protest against injustice.