The Dalai Lama, Climate Change and Joy


Last week, the Dalai Lama’s Facebook page featured a recent video of his appearance at The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spoke, with several others, about the human response to climate change. Intrigued by the blend of mindfulness and matter in this subject, I watched the almost-two hour video, twice. I took notes. Twice. The same points jumped out at me each time, and I decided to write a blog post around them.

His Holiness is a smart and compassionate man. He paid tribute to science, and to statistics. He honored those in their professional capacities, and framed his own as that of a student of Buddhism. He spoke with equal attention, solemnity and good humor to adult scientists and to youth activists alike. Some of his words were presented through the voice of his translator, and I found that taking notes was helpful in staying with the weave of His Holiness’ own thought process, in my own mind.

The Dalai Lama says we ought to encourage the media to lead the change. To shine a light on that which is serious in the spin-off effects of climate change, and to spend more of the time focused upon solutions. To lead with courage, rather than with fear. To emphasize the potential and ability of people to overcome circumstances.

His Holiness encourages compassion, and seeing the billions of us in oneness – all of us in it together. He encourages mothers to spend more time with their children, in teaching compassion. I would add, it’s not just mothers who teach compassion, it’s fathers too, and all adults who can bring a loving and compassionate experience to children, whether or not they are immediate family. Family is what we make it. Family is all of us.

His Holiness encourages group meetings, more often, and made public, to meet on the issues and solutions around climate change. He does not debate the science. He encourages connection between people, and especially in the younger generations. He points to rural areas as neighborly, and encourages climate dialogue to occur there, where the community connections are already strong. The phrase I wrote down more than once, in his words: “altruism must be translated into action.”

I think he’s right. Compassion, care for the self, the family and the community, as well as a sense of our connectedness: these are the cornerstones of our foundation for moving out of our current context. Compassion, care, connectedness. How do we move toward those three essences? What actions do we take?

I’ve come to find with many difficult aspects of life – and climate change is certainly one of them – it seems that when we approach our target from the perspective of a joyous inner feeling, different (clearer) solutions rise, and they rise faster, and resonate with key people, more of the time. It makes the targets more seen, in their variety, and less pigeonholed, in their narrowness. Joy opens windows and doors to solutions faster than anything else can.

I’ve seen that a state of joy – or even its partial counterweight of contentment – allows for receptivity. Of information. Of sensory experience. Of intuitive inspiration. It’s in those human aspects that creative solutions are discovered. Revealed. Innovated. Brought to light.

Am I crazy to think that joyousness could hold a solution to the issues that spin off from climate change? Let the light in that crack and see what happens. Let yourself off the hook. You don’t have to have to come up with a solution, just let yourself feel joy. Feel appreciation. Appreciate elements in your midst. Focus on what’s working, and celebrate that. From that place of clarity, seek the creative solutions we desire.


12 thoughts on “The Dalai Lama, Climate Change and Joy

  1. “Joy opens windows and doors to solutions faster than anything else can.” exactly. because i have tried the other dark way. it only gets darker. It’s logical, actually.
    Very happy to have found your blog. i’m off to explore your Gratitude Wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love where you’re going here Maia – I truly think that people gravitate to joy, inspiration and contentment, and that all solutions can be found there. We don’t need more fear and darkness – we’ve tried that, and as Kaylar said, it doesn’t work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this most important of topics – and what a lovely blog you have. I look forward to reading more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…to spend more of the time focused upon solutions. To lead with courage, rather than with fear. To emphasize the potential and ability of people to overcome circumstances.” I love this. Joy sure does feel better! Thanks for summarizing for us. And thanks for following “Anything is Possible!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Maia, and thanks for the follow at Self-help Health. I always appreciate when someone decides to do that, plus it helps lead me to what they’re up to, like this great blog and post of yours. When you were initially talking about focusing on joy, I thought “oh, I’ll have to leave a comment about gratitude being the same kind of door-opening, solution-finding kind of energy.” Then, by the end of the post, you’d already added that. And I love the idea of the Appreciation Wall. I just checked it out and will see if I can find a pic of something to send for it.

    BTW, are you familiar w/ A great site for posting what you’re grateful for each day and good place for meeting light/like-minded people and feeling like you’re having an exponential effect on the planet due to the power of group energy. I now have spiritual family in Australia, England, India, Germany, Bermuda, Africa and elsewhere due to the connections made there.

    Glad to have found you!

    p.s.I also have another blog called Evolution Made Easier and I think this post of yours will make a great link to feature in an upcoming post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Maia – what a relief to connect with others around the priority of joyful presence when facing great trials. This is sometimes difficult (but possible) for me when faced with a personal tragedy or a larger global issue. I just know that my body, heart and soul say “meet this with a joyful willingness to engage” and that is what I move toward.
    Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to hearing more from you!


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