Excerpt from Ethics For The New Millennium by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D., plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ethics For The New Millennium

by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Ethics For The New Millennium
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 1999, 237 pages
    May 2001, 237 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

If this seems improbable, consider our differing response to kindness and to violence. Most of us find violence intimidating. Conversely, when we are shown kindness, we respond with greater trust. Similarly, consider the relationship between peace-which as we have seen is the fruit of love - and good health. According to my understanding, our constitution is more suited to peace and tranquility than to violence and aggression. We all know that stress and anxiety can lead to high blood pressure and other negative symptoms. In the Tibetan medical system, mental and emotional disturbances are considered to be a cause of many constitutional diseases, including cancer. Moreover, peace, tranquility, and others' care are essential to recovery from illness. We can also identify a basic longing for peace. Why? Because peace suggests life and growth whereas violence suggests only misery and death. This is why the idea of a Pure Land, or of Heaven, attracts us. If such a place were described in terms of unending warfare and strife, we would much rather remain in this world.

Notice, too, how we respond to the phenomenon of life itself. When spring follows winter, the days become longer, there is more sunshine, the grass grows afresh: automatically our spirits lift. On the other hand, at the approach of winter, the leaves begin to fall one by one, and much of the vegetation around us becomes as though dead. Small wonder if we tend to feel a bit downcast at that time of year. The indication here is surely that our nature prefers life over death, growth over decay, construction over destruction.

Consider also the behavior of children. In them we see what is natural to the human character before it has been overlaid with learned ideas. We find that very young babies do not really differentiate between one person and another. They attach much more importance to the smile of the people in front of them than to anything else. Even when they start to grow up, they are not very interested in differences of race, nationality, religion, or family background. When they meet with other children, they do not stop to discuss these things. They immediately begin the much more important business of play. Nor is this just sentimentalism. I see the reality whenever I visit one of the children's villages in Europe, where numbers of Tibetan refugee children have been educated since the early 1960s. These villages were founded to care for orphaned children from countries at war with one another. To no one's great surprise, it was found that despite their different backgrounds, when these children are put together, they live in complete harmony with one another.

Now it could be objected that while we may all share a capacity for loving-kindness, human nature is such that inevitably we tend to reserve it for those closest to us. We are biased toward our families and friends. Our feelings of concern for those outside the circle will depend very much on individual circumstances: those who feel threatened are not likely to have very much goodwill for those who threaten them. All this is true enough. Nor do I deny that whatever our capacity to feel concern for our fellow human beings, when our very survival is threatened, it may but rarely prevail over the instinct for self-preservation. Still, this does not mean that the capacity is no longer there, that the potential does not remain. Even soldiers after a battle will often help their enemies retrieve their dead and wounded.

In all of what I have said about our basic nature, I do not mean to suggest that I believe it has no negative aspects. Where there is consciousness, hatred, ignorance, and violence do indeed arise naturally. This is why, although our nature is basically disposed toward kindness and compassion, we are all capable of cruelty and hatred. It is why we have to struggle to better our conduct. It also explains how individuals raised in a strictly non-violent environment have turned into the most horrible butchers. In connection with this, I recall my visit some years ago to the Washington Memorial, which pays tribute to the martyrs and heroes of the Jewish Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis. What struck me most forcefully about the monument was its simultaneous cataloging of different forms of human behavior. On one side it lists the victims of acts of unspeakable atrocity. On the other, it remembers the heroic acts of kindness on the part of Christian families and others who willingly took terrible risks in order to harbor their Jewish brothers and sisters. I felt that this was entirely appropriate, and very necessary: to show the two sides of human potential.

Reprinted from Ethics For The New Millennium by His Holiness The Dalai Lama by permission of Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.