A fascinating interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama appears in the Daily Telegraph online today.
…a short, squat man runs through the rain from his garden into his sitting-room, his maroon robes flapping behind him. The broad face, set into permanent laughter-lines, is unmistakable. He is chuckling.
“At least monks don’t need hair-dryers,” he says, chortling. His readiness to break into laughter is his most striking characteristic: his laugh is uncontainable and uncontrollable, ricocheting around the room even when he is discussing atrocities.
On life in the West…
“It is fascinating,” he says, speaking in slightly stilted English. “In the West, you have bigger homes, yet smaller families; you have endless conveniences – yet you never seem to have any time. You can travel anywhere in the world, yet you don’t bother to cross the road to meet your neighbours; you have more food than you could possibly eat, yet that makes [some people, with eating problems] miserable.”
The West’s big problem, he believes, is that people have become too self-absorbed. “I don’t think people have become more selfish, but their lives have become easier and that has spoilt them. They have less resilience, they expect more, they constantly compare themselves to others and they have too much choice – which brings no real freedom.”
Like all Tibetan monks, he eats an early breakfast, then lunch and no supper. “My younger brother, who lives with me, teases me and says I rise so early only to get to the table first because I am so greedy. I eat what I am offered. It’s the pig diet – a little bit of everything: porridge, meat, Tibetan dumplings, vegetables.
On marriage and happiness…
He has lived as a monk since childhood, but the Dalai Lama views marriage as one of the chief ways of finding happiness. “Too many people in the West have given up on marriage. They don’t understand that it is about developing a mutual admiration of someone, a deep respect and trust and awareness of another human’s needs,” he says. “The new easy-come, easy-go relationships give us more freedom – but less contentment.”
“To be happier, you must spend less time plotting your life and be more accepting.”
So, how about wedding “plotting” as a practice of mutual admiration and being more accepting? Nice to mix this into all the catering, stationery, and other details that have seeped into my once-upon-simple life.
Wondering, too about those couple of hours I spent this morning absorbed in economic data and financial investing. Not always so simple to know (and accept) that we already have what we need!