"In today's workplace environment, there's often a focus solely on production, productivity-produce, produce, produce. Now, this may be changing slowly, with more companies paying attention to creating a more humane environment, but in many cases the organization doesn't care about the personal welfare of the employees, or the inner state or satisfaction of the workers-all it cares about is the bottom line, making a bigger profit, keeping the share prices high. And this type of environment creates the conditions for all kinds of inequities, unfairness, stress for the employees, and so on. In view of that, how can we maintain a feeling of calmness and inner satisfaction in an environment that is focused only on production and profit?"
The Dalai Lama laughed. "Howard, some of your questions are so impossible! It is almost as if you are asking, 'How can beings in the hell realm learn to practice patience, tolerance, and tranquility?'
"There are not always easy answers. In modern society, you find many examples of unfairness-for example, corrupt leaders giving jobs or promotions to relatives instead of based on merit. These things are plenty. Now here, it's difficult to get satisfaction. How to deal with these things? That's a problem. Like in the Tibetan case, we're honest, we're not anti-Chinese, but the Chinese falsely accuse us of things and engage in bullying tactics in Tibet. Under those circumstances, legally they are wrong, we are right, but still we suffer. We're defeated. Under those circumstances, trying to get some satisfaction or some kind of peace of mind, now that's hard work.
"Millions of people are subjected to various forms of unfairness, isn't it? We need to fight against injustice outwardly, but at the same time we have to find ways to cope inwardly, ways to train our minds to remain calm and not develop frustration, hatred, or despair. That's the only solution. We may find help from our belief systems, whether we believe in karma or in God, but we can also use our human intelligence to analyze the situation and to see it from a different perspective. That will help," he said with conviction.
Referring to our many conversations over the years, I continued, "In the past, we've often spoken of training the mind as the key to happiness, and that one way to train our minds is to use our human intelligence, to use human reason and analysis to reshape our attitudes and outlook. In fact, this is a process which you've called 'analytic meditation.'"
"That's right," said the Dalai Lama.
"So, I'm wondering if you can take me through a specific example of this process. Let's say that we're going for a promotion at work, and we didn't get it. We're feeling really upset, we're feeling that it's unfair or we're jealous of the person who got the promotion. How do we deal with that?"
He replied thoughtfully, "It begins by deliberately analyzing whether responding with anger or jealousy, for instance, will benefit us or harm us in the long run. We have to deeply reflect on whether responding in this way brings a happier and more peaceful state of mind, or if those emotions serve to make us more unhappy. And we need to relate it to our own past experiences, thinking about the effect that these emotions have on our physical health, as well as our mental state. Think about times when you felt strong jealousy or hatred in the past and find out whether it made your life more satisfying or helped you achieve your goals. Think about how others responded to you when you were showing strong anger or jealousy, and analyze whether that helped you to have better relationships. So, think about these things until you are fully convinced of how damaging it is to ourselves to constantly respond to situations with hostility or jealousy, and how beneficial are the positive emotions like tolerance or contentment."
From The Art of Happiness at Work. Copyright The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Riverhead Books.
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