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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Report: The Dalai Lama's message to future teachers

October 22, 2009

How to prepare our youth to lead compassionate and ethical lives
By Pauline Théoret
Canadian Teachers' Federation
October 20, 2009

His presence is disarming, his smile is
comforting, his laugh is contagious, and his
message is clear: compassion and ethics are at
the root of happiness, and happiness can be
learned!! This brought a round of applause from
500 teacher trainees who attended the Dalai
Lama's morning presentation at McGill University
(Montreal, Quebec) on Oct. 3, 2009.

For the last 50 years, the Dalai Lama has spent
time learning from world audiences and sharing
his global vision in return -- discussing issues
of great importance for all humankind, and the
common good. In his message, he emphasized
compassion, ethics, and happiness as the
necessary elements that embody world peace, a
reality that has eluded us to date.

He reminded us that we all have one thing in
common -- we are all reproduced biologically and
through pure mother-child attachment at birth, we
encounter our first moments of inner happiness --
a happiness not derived from external factors.
Over the years, the manufactured values of
competition, power and self-centeredness trump
that inner happiness. As a result we redefine our
perception of happiness to one that is tied to
our identity in relation to all things material -- a physical happiness.

He went on to define ethics as the conscious
physical and emotional actions of one being that
bring long-term benefits to another. In this
context, he spoke of all mammals' survival being
dependent on the actions of others, and how the
outdated concept of wars and its devastating
impact on humankind, with 200 million related
deaths in this last century alone, are not
exercises in ethics. Since actions are conscious,
and carry with them positive or negative
emotions, then positive emotive actions can be
learned. The Dalai Lama believes that we can
develop compassion through training and
non-biased reasoning once we fully understand the
depth or our interdependency on one another.

He believes the successful universal promotion of
"moral ethics" can only be done through the
education systems, which are a part of every
community in every country. Unfortunately, the
education system has never paid sufficient
attention to moral ethics since the foundation
for it is based on market and economy. He
espouses that "moral ethics" education and
training, based on compassion, should start at
kindergarten and go on to university. A program
of this kind would overshadow the pervasive
material happiness so many of us seek and live
daily, and return us to being consciously aware
of our humble selves, the impact of our actions
on others, and reopen the door to our inner
happiness. An educational program of this kind
could change an entire generation into thinking
"what can I do today for my fellow human being?"

The Dalai Lama left us with parting words, both
for teachers, and for students: "Teachers must
maintain a sense of concern and caring for the
student. Some teachers express impatience and
intolerance but deep down they have altruistic
qualities ¨that's what makes a good teacher. In
turn, students must maintain a profound
aspiration to continually learn about the world
around them and the world they live in.

"Learn to recognize and release your inner
happiness. From there, ethics will take a life of its own," he concluded.

The Dalai Lama's Oct. 3 video presentation can be viewed on www.learnquebec.ca

* Pauline Théoret is the Coordinator of the Green
Street program of the Canadian Teachers' Federation
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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