[from: Tibetan Bulletin (March-April 1994)

           Universal Responsibility and Our Global Environment
                       His Holiness the Dalai Lama

  As the twentieth century draws to a close, we find that the world has 
  grown smaller. The world's people have become almost one community.  
  Political and military alliances have created large multinational 
  groups; industry and international trade have produced a global 
  economy. Worldwide communications are eliminating ancient barriers of 
  distance, language and race. We are also being drawn together by the 
  grave problems we face: overpopulation, dwindling natural resources, 
  and an environmental crisis that threatens our air, water, and trees, 
  along with the vast number of beautiful life forms that are the very 
  foundation of existence on this small planet we share.

  I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will   
  have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of 
  us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or 
  nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility 
  is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world 
  peace, the equitable use of natural resources and, through concern for 
  future generations, the proper care of the environment.

  That is why it is so heartening to see such non-governmental 
  organisations as yours. Your role in forging a better future is 
  absolutely essential. I have come across many such orgaisations built 
  by dedicated volunteers out of genuine concern for their fellow human 
  beings. Such commitment represents the forefront of both social and 
  environmental progress.

  Whether we like it or not, we have all been born on this earth as part 
  of one great family. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, belonging 
  to one nation, religion, ideology or another, ultimately each of us is 
  just a human being like everyone else. We all desire happiness and do 
  not want suffering. Furthermore, each of us has the same right to 
  pursue happiness and avoid suffering. When you recognise that all 
  beings are equal in this respect, you automatically feel empathy and 
  closeness for them. Out of this, in turn, comes a genuine sense of 
  universal responsibility -- the wish to actively help others overcome 
  their problems.

  The need for a sense of universal responsibility is present in every   
  aspect of modern life. Nowadays, significant events in one part of the 
  world eventually affect the entire planet. Therefore, we have to treat 
  each major local problem as a global concern from the moment it 
  begins. We can no longer invoke the national, racial or ideological 
  barriers that separate us without destructive repercussions. In the 
  context of our new interdependence, considering the interest of others 
  is clearly the best form of self-interest.

  We need to appreciate interdependence in nature far more than we have   
  in the past. Our ignorance of it is directly reponsible for many of 
  the problems we face. For instance, tapping the limited resources of 
  our world -- particularly those of the developing nations -- simply to 
  fuel consumerism, is disastrous. If it continues unchecked, eventually 
  we will all suffer. We must respect the delicate balance of life and 
  allow it to replenish itself.

  Ignorance of interdependence has not only harmed the natural 
  environment, but human society as well. Instead of caring for one 
  another, we place most of our efforts for happiness in pursuing 
  individual material consumption. We have become so engrossed in this 
  pursuit that, without knowing it, we have neglected to foster the most 
  basic human needs of love, kindness and cooperation. This is very sad.  
  We have to consider what we human beings really are. We are not 
  machine-made objects. However, since we are not solely material 
  creatures, it is a mistake to seek fulfillment in external development 

  To pursue growth properly, we need to renew our commitment to human  
  values in many fields. Political life, of course, requires an ethical 
  foundation, but science and religion, as well, should be pursued from 
  a moral basis. Without it scientists cannot distinguish between 
  beneficial technologies and those which are merely expedient. The 
  environmental damage surrounding us is the most obvious result of this 
  confusion. In the case of religion, it is particularly necessary.

  The purpose of religion is not to construct beautiful buildings, but 
  to cultivate positive human qualities such as tolerance, generosity 
  and love. Every world religion, no matter what its philosophical view, 
  is founded first and foremost on the precept that we must reduce our 
  selfishness and serve others. Unfortunately, sometimes in the name of 
  religion, people cause more quarrels than they solve. Practitioners of 
  different faiths should realise that each religious tradition has 
  immense intrinsic value as a means for providing mental and spiritual 

  I have been extremely heartened to follow the recent developments in 
  the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Laying down 
  guns on both sides, and talking face-to-face is, in my opinion, the 
  only way to resolve such disputes. We must learn to live together in a 
  nonviolent way that nurtures the freedom of all people.

  There is a wonderful verse in the Bible about turning swords into 
  ploughshares. It is a lovely image, a weapon transformed into a tool 
  to serve basic human needs, symbolic of an attitude of inner and outer 
  disarmament. In the spirit of this ancient message, I think it is 
  important that we stress today the urgency of a policy that is long 
  overdue -- the demilitarisation of the entire planet.  
  Demilitarisation would free great human resources for protection of 
  the environment, relief of poverty, and sustainable human development.

  I have always envisioned the future of my own country, Tibet, as 
  founded on this basis. Tibet will be a neutral, demilitarised 
  sanctuary where weapons are forbidden and the people live in harmony 
  with nature. I have called this a Zone of Ahimsa or non-violence.  
  This is not merely a dream -- it is precisely the way Tibetans tried 
  to live for over a thousand years before our country was tragically 
  invaded. In Tibet, wildlife was protected in accordance with Buddhist 
  principles. We enacted decrees to protect the environment, but it was 
  mainly protected by the beliefs which were installed in use as 

  I would like to conclude by stating that I feel optimistic about the 
  future. There are a number of recent trends which show our potential 
  for achieving a better world. The rapid changes in our attitude 
  towards the earth are a source of hope. As recently as a decade ago, 
  we thoughtlessly devoured the resources of the world as if there was 
  no end to them. We failed to realise that unchecked consumerism was 
  disastrous for both the environment and social welfare. Now, both 
  individuals and governments are seeking a new ecological and economic 

  It is true to say that as late as the 1980s people believed that war 
  was an inevitable condition of mankind. The notion prevailed that 
  people with conflicting interests could only confront each other.  
  This view has deminished. Today people all over the globe are more 
  committed to peaceful co-existence, as is evident here in the Middle 
  East. This is an astonishingly positive development.

  After believing for centuries that human society could only be   
  governed with rigid authoritarian discipline, people in all corners of 
  the world have woken up to the virtues of democracy. Speaking from 
  their hearts, they have shown that the desire for freedom and truth 
  and democracy stems from the core of human nature. Recent events have 
  proved that the simple expression of truth is an immense force in the 
  human mind, and as a result, in the shaping of history.

  One of the greatest lessons for all of us has been the peaceful change  
  in Eastern Europe. In the past, oppressed people have always resorted 
  to violence in their struggle to be free. Now, these peaceful 
  revolutions, following in the footsteps of Gandhi and Martin Luther 
  King, have given future generations a tremendous example of 
  successful, nonviolent change. When, in the future, the need arises to 
  change society, our descendents can look back to 1989 as a paradigm  
  for peaceful struggle: a real success story on an unprecedented scale, 
  involving more than half a dozen nations and hundreds of millions of 

  Meanwhile, there has been a growth of awareness of human rights.  
  Crude power can never subdue mankind's basic desire for freedom, truth 
  and democracy, which are our fundamental right. People simply don't 
  like a person or a system that bullies, cheats and lies. These 
  activities are essentially opposed to the human spirit.

  All these encouraging signs reflect a renewed appreciation of the 
  benefits of basic human values. Because of the lessons we have begun 
  to learn, the next century will be friendlier, more harmonious, and 
  less harmful. Compassion, the seeds of peace, will be able to 
  flourish. At the same time, I believe that every individual has a 
  responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.  
  Good wishes alone are not enough, we each have to assume 

  I hope and pray that in the days ahead, each of us will do all we can  
  to see that the goal of creating a happier, more harmonious and 
  healthier world is achieved.

  [This is the text of the address delivered to the Society for the 
  Protection of Nature, Israel, on March 22, 1994]


                         DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT

 TITLE OF WORK: Universal Responsibility and Our Global Environment
 AUTHOR: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
 AUTHOR'S ADDRESS: Thekchen Choeling, McLeod Ganj
    Dharamsala, Distt. Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India
 PUBLISHER: Tibetan Bulletin
    Department of Information & International Relations,
    Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala - 176215, H.P. India.
 DATE OF PUBLICATION: March 22, 1994
 ORIGIN SITE: BODY DHARMA * Berkeley CA 510/836-4717 * DharmaNet (96:101/33)

 The author/publisher retains all rights to this work and hereby grants
 electronic distribution rights to DharmaNet International. This work may
 be freely copied and redistributed electronically, provided that the file
 contents (including this Agreement) are not altered in any way and that
 it is distributed at no cost to the recipient. You may make printed copies
 of this work for your personal use; further distribution of printed copies
 requires permission from the publisher. If this work is used by a teacher
 in a class, or is quoted in a review, the publisher shall be notified of
 such use.

 It is the spirit of dana, freely offered generosity, which has kept the
 entire Buddhist tradition alive for more than 2,500 years. If you find this
 work of value, please consider sending a donation to the author or publisher,
 so that these works may continue to be made available. May your generosity
 contribute to the happiness of all beings everywhere.
       DharmaNet International, P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley, CA 94704-4951