The Dalai Lama on Healthy Living

At a conference on longevity, co-hosted by Tibet House U.S. and the Columbia Integrative Medicine Program, leading scientists and Indo-Tibetan scholars met to discuss how combining Eastern and Western medical practices can help people live longer, healthier lives.

Discovery Health Channel's Dr. Mehmet Oz co-hosted the event with Buddhist scholar Robert A.F. Thurman, and also interviewed the guest of honor, His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.


Here, the Dalai Lama shares his views on ...


It is extremely important to keep a compassionate attitude toward your enemy. That kind of mental attitude, certainly then much less cause for anxiety or stress ... With training and daily practice and then, I think, analytical meditation, the usefulness about compassion and altruism and harmfulness about anger, hate and these things-that makes differences in mental attitude.



It is very essential for a calm mind, compassion is the key factor - intimate compassion or unbiased compassion ... and also I firmly believe, deeds are the seed of compassion, biologically we all possess it and biologically secrete that because it's needed, because helpful to survive, I think including health. So I think the first day after birth is the strongest experience, with mother's sort of care, mother's participation. So through that way, this body builds. So rest of our life, without that, I think difficult.



It is very important to realize suffering. So therefore, the first Buddhist teaching: truth of suffering. So that creates desire or interest to look whether there's a possibility to welcome or not. For that, go to the seed or causes or conditions of the suffering.

Also, I think that those people passing through difficult experiences then of course, when we face difficulties, there are two possibilities. One, loss hope and demoralize. One, desire-determined - face it! So usually those people passing through difficulty I think are physically and more importantly mental level, tougher.


Can Americans take Tibetan practices like meditation and use them without the spiritual element? Will it still work as effectively?

We can learn from these things. Like Yoga, used to come from India-spirituality, but now it's a part of physical health - it's used for physical health. And so like that, some meditation, some training of mind from East tradition, can implement without becoming follower of tradition. That should be. I think calm mind very much is based ... I think another factor is your attitude should be realistic. Become realistic, and when you face some problems, "Ah, this is simple, problems I have to face. Nothing can be done." As far as the future is concerned, preventive measure is still possible in your own hands. So no need for exhilaration, no need for surprise, OK ... So I think in order to become realistic, I think ancient Indian concept - law of causality - everything due to it's own causes.


What can westerners learn from Tibetan medicine practices?

I always take Tibetan medicine and really works. And as a preventive measure, it's extremely good, but in some emergency case, Tibetan medicine I think too slow to react. So, therefore, for preventive medicine, I think Tibetan medicine is really good.

People who are involved in the health field, doctors and nurses, besides their professions training, I think some training of compassion - that may be useful. Some doctors treat patients just like a machine, without much feeling. So, I myself sometimes receive treatment from doctors or physicians. While carrying the treatment, showing human feeling, smile and warm feeling and I feel much safer, much happier ... The patients' mental enthusiasm or will is crucial so in order to develop that, the surroundings - sometime equipment brings more fear, a lot of equipment, but the people who handling it, they smile and give human affection, then of course the patient is much more fresher and happier. So that's my suggestion.


Is longevity only good for you if you're a good person?

I think the troublemaker, I think deep inside, fear is an important part of their emotion. More hatred towards others automatically brings more fear. More open mind, more compassion mind, less fear. These go together.



I usually say, those emotions which come spontaneous instinctively is based on ignorance. But another emotion is based on reasons or analyzation or wisdom. That emotion based on reasons and fact, can develop infinitely, so usually the first category of the emotion are usually, harmful the second part based on reason and analysis are positive.