A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision For Our World

Notes from the Book: A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision For Our World - Daniel Coleman

In this book, we explore some of Dalai Lama's views on the problems of the world. He is surprisingly a huge supporter of science.

Rich-poor divide

"We all have the same potential but not the same opportunities." p.182

Change from within

"If you want to change the world, first try to improve - change within yourself. That will help change your family. From there it just gets bigger and bigger." p.318

Corporate Charity

Marc Benioff, CEO of the cloud computing company Salesforce,  uses a "1:1:1" principle, giving 1 percent of profits, 1 percent of product, and 1 percent of employees' time to worthy causes. p.177

On Warfare

"To my surprise. the Dalai Lama says that warfare itself can be relatively humanised if it is fought with a compassionate motivation, taking care to minimise casualties and civilian deaths. He contrasts that with impersonal, mechanized destruction, "full of hatred," where "murder is seen as a form of heroism".  p.252

On Religion

"The real purpose of faith is the practice of love - it's all the same."

"I believe no religion endorses terrorism.  The essence of all major religions is compassion, forgiveness, self-discipline, brotherhood and charity. All religions have the potential to strengthen human values and to develop general harmony." p. 255

Disarming as a way to build bridges and handle bullying

Jock: Oh, so you're going to play soccer? *dripping in sarcasm*

Pudgy fellow: Yes, I'm going to play soccer. I'm not very good at it. What I'm good at is art. Show me anything and I can draw it real well. You, you're really great at soccer. Someday I'd like to be as good as you are.

Jock (disarmed): Oh, you're not so bad. Maybe I can show you a few moves that will make you better.

The intervention: You say something positive about the other person and say something positive about yourself. The conversational strategy is taught as an on-the-spot response to bullying. Called a 'put-up', it tends to deflate the energy behind the put-down and taunts bullies deploy. p.261

On feeling hopeless faced with the onslaught of seemingly impossible problems in the world

"Impossible things become possible. So what seems impossible at this moment can change if you make the effort." p.296

"If we make an effort, it may be possible to achieve. Even if it seems hopeless now, never give up. Offer a position vision, with enthusiasm and joy, and an optimistic outlook." p.332

On blaming governments

"Society is the aggregate of us all. A government has no brain, no mouth - just offices and some papers. A government, like a corporation, is really just individuals. "

"Sometimes we feel all the world's problems are huge. But who creates these problems? Humanity is only a collection of individuals, so change must come from each of us. The individual is very, very important, but the real effect comes from a mass movement." p.310-312

Eco Footprint VS Handprint

With our continuous diet of bad news, we feel powerless, that things are out of control. When people study their eco footprint, they tend to feel guilty, ashamed and uneasy. This leads people to tune out in order to feel better. 

"Norris had his students at Harvard calculate their personal footprint - the impacts of everything they owned and did. Many of them felt that the world would be better off without them. 

"I realised that no one's footprint would ever get to zero, because everything we buy carries a history of impacts. - Norris" P.224

The 'handprint' is a way to track our personal impacts. This engages our positive motivations and keeps us going. 

Examples of 'virtuous cycle' projects and world's first net-positive products on p225-227. Blankets can change the world!

By the way,  you know most of China's lithium and all its chromium (used in electronics like phones) are mined in Tibet? Dalai Lama invites you to think about your own footprint too. A single phone involves 6,175 independent processes, like mining coltan, a rare mineral in Congo.  p223 Definitely another reason for me to hold off upgrading my phone.

Pretty interesting book that shares the general view of the Dalai Lama and how he uses his role in the world to spread compassion and do good. A recommended read for anyone who wants to think about how to help the world, or anyone who just feels burnt out when faced with the never-ending problems of the world. This book may relight your optimism and encourage you to continue your good work! 

The book also offers examples of self-perpetuating charity and eco work that corporations and organisations have started. (Ariel Investments uses $20k to start investment plans for college for the students. Upon graduation, the students give $20k back to the incoming first-grade class so that the program can be self-perpetuating. p.193) Very interesting take!