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Video: Dalai Lama: Humanity is getting better

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    ANN CURRY, anchor: Back now at 8:18. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people . Born to a farming family in northeastern Tibet , he was enthroned as a Dalai Lama when he was just four years old. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his message of compassion, peace, nonviolence and happiness during his travels to more than 62 countries on six continents. And this morning we are touched to have him bring his message to our studio in his first live morning show interview ever. Your Holiness , good morning.

    DALAI LAMA: Good morning.

    CURRY: Mm-hmm. You have spent your entire life bringing this message of compassion, of tolerance, of forgiveness...

    DALAI LAMA: Hm.

    CURRY: ...and contentment to people all over the world . But today people all over the world , including here in America , are experiencing so many

    difficulties: a bad economy, war, disaster, the oil spill. So many things are plaguing the spirits of people. How can we find contentment in this world at this time with so many difficulties?

    DALAI LAMA: Hm. Basically, these problems are temporary.

    CURRY: These problems are temporary.

    DALAI LAMA: Uh-huh. We human being basically more, what's it, a gentle nature .

    CURRY: We have a gentle nature .

    DALAI LAMA: Uh-huh. And also, we have the, what's it, the creativity nature there. So these problems -- of course, some problems , major disaster ...

    CURRY: Mm-hmm.

    DALAI LAMA: ...that is something little different. But many other problem which essentially man-made problem .

    CURRY: Hm.

    DALAI LAMA: Our own creation. So logically, we also have the ability to overcome these problems .

    CURRY: Of course we want to overcome these problems , yes.

    DALAI LAMA: Uh-huh. I think general atmosphere on this planet, I think last two centuries or one century, we are not acting with true human spirit . We -- I think sometimes we too much sort of stress on the superficial level and then -- and short-sightedness. Due to that, a lot of problems we see happen. Now what we learned? We must think holistically, broadly and long-term. I think this is -- this is just the beginning of 21st century . I think compare 21

    century and 20th century even with......century, early part of new century, later part of new century, much change. These change not come from sky but come through humans -- human experience. And we're becoming more realistic. So now 21st century , I think there is every reason this 21 century will be much happier, much peaceful, much compassionate century than the 20th century .

    CURRY: Mm-hmm.

    DALAI LAMA: This I'm quite sure. But you see, everything different on our own sort of action. The positive action -- in order to carry positive action , we must develop here a positive vision and sincere motivation, and our conduct should be often, what's it, honest, truthful, transparent. Then I think many problems can reduce. This my feeling.

    CURRY: You're saying that if we are honest and truthful and find it within ourselves to have generous lives, you're saying that the problems that we're having in the world today don't have to -- won't be here and this will end, the suffering won't be as difficult.

    DALAI LAMA: Oh, can reduce.

    CURRY: Can reduce.

    DALAI LAMA: Can reduce. That's certain. Many man-made problem , if we develop

    certain kind of right attitude and......method, many of these, our own sort of created problem , it certainly eliminate. And if not, reduce.

    CURRY: Reduce.

    DALAI LAMA: That's -- that is certain.

    CURRY: But you said just now that that is not always true for when there is a natural disaster . And you yourself have been tested.

    DALAI LAMA: Hm.

    CURRY: You know, there was just this last April...

    DALAI LAMA: Mm-hmm.

    CURRY: ...a terrible earthquake...

    DALAI LAMA: Yes. Yes.

    CURRY: ...in Tibet , in the place where you were born, and you could not return. Thousands were killed. You could not return to help people. So how do you handle the sadness in you when you cannot do what you want to do?

    DALAI LAMA: Oh. I always -- whenever I saw some problem , some tragedy, I always remember one advice from one ancient Indian Buddhist master. A tragedy happened, then think, analyze the situation. If there is a way to overcome that, then no need worry. If there is any way -- no way to overcome that suffering, that tragedy, then no use to worry.

    CURRY: So you're saying...

    DALAI LAMA: But however, I think not like 20th century , not like the tsunami problem and also the serious earthquake in...

    CURRY: Hm. Haiti.

    DALAI LAMA: ... Haiti and Chile and now the last -- two years ago in the Sichuan

    area, and now this year was in the......area, response from the rest of the world is immense. I think in -- through the centuries or early part of the world, early part of the time, I don't think the suffering -- just people carried the suffering, no one take care. Now it is completely different situation. These are positive sign , however.

    CURRY: So are you saying that humankind -- right. So you're saying humankind is becoming more compassionate.

    DALAI LAMA: Yes. Certainly.

    CURRY: So the state of humankind today, are we getting worse or are we getting better as a people? What would you say ? Is...

    DALAI LAMA: Better. No question. Some mischievous -- handful mischievous people always there. I think last several thousand years it's been that, and for future also. You see, some handful mischievous people always there. But problem , you see the news or media -- I think it interesting you're also the media. You see, usually you see they sort of highlight these negative things.

    CURRY: Difficulties.

    DALAI LAMA: These positive thing is usually we take for granted. So not news, so not come. That my feeling.

    CURRY: Your Holiness -- Your Holiness , you have been a major factor. And if world and the humankind is getting better, a lot is owed to you. Thank you so much for being here this morning and for joining us. And I know that you'll be leading three days of teachings at Radio City Music Hall to spread -- continue to spread your message. Thank you so much ...

By
TODAY contributor
updated 5/20/2010 10:47:09 AM ET 2010-05-20T14:47:09

The news all seems to be bad — natural disasters, an environmental catastrophe, wars, an economic meltdown, terrorist attacks. But in a quiet voice of optimism, a small, bespectacled man in a robe and sandals struck a note that seems to be heard all too seldom nowadays.

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The future, the Dalai Lama said Thursday, is bright.

Human beings are becoming more compassionate and better, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet told TODAY’s Ann Curry in New York in his first live interview on a morning news show. “Better, no question,” he responded without hesitation when Curry asked if humans are getting worse or better.

The problems facing the world may seem overwhelming, but, the Dalai Lama said, “Basically, these problems are temporary.” Other than natural catastrophes, most are “manmade; our own creation. So, logically, we also have the ability to work on these problems.”

Signs of hope
The Dalai Lama pointed to the overwhelming outpouring of support, aid and money sent by people all over the world to victims of a series of earthquakes that have rocked many countries, including Chile, Haiti and his native Tibet.

In the early part of the 20th century, he told Curry, people didn’t leap to the aid of people halfway around the world as they do now. “These are positive signs,” he said.

In New York to give four lectures at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Buddhist monk arrived at 30 Rock in a black limousine with blacked-out windows. As a former head of state, he had a Secret Service security detail.

The Dalai Lama, dressed in a burgundy robe, greeted his hosts with hands clasped as if in prayer and bows. Smiling and serene, he stepped out of his simple sandals and sat cross-legged on a chair, as limber as a teenager at age 75.

After finishing his interview, he gave TODAY co-anchors Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer gleaming white silk scarves.

Good news is no news
Smiling throughout his interview, the Dalai Lama said that evil will always be with us, but that’s not news.

“Some mischievous people always there. Last several thousand years, always there. In future, also,” he said in his distinctive idiom.

Like so many others, he wagged a gently chiding finger at the news media for highlighting the negative.

“The news, the media highlight these negative things. Positive things take for granted; not news,” the Dalai Lama said.

In exile since the Chinese crushed an uprising by Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama continues to attempt to negotiate autonomy for his native land and his own return there with the Chinese, who occupy the Himalayan nation.

TODAY
Ann Curry greets the Dalai Lama as he arrives at the NBC studios. The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet said that human beings are becoming more compassionate and have the ability to overcome the world’s problems.

Named the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of 2, he took office two years later and was raised by monks in monasteries. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent efforts to resolve the conflict in Tibet. He has also become increasingly involved with environmental causes.

Spirituality and science
Before coming to New York, the Dalai Lama was in Wisconsin to help dedicate the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The center was created to study positive human qualities such as happiness and compassion, and was inspired by his teachings.

The Dalai Lama believes that there can be a connection between Buddhism and science. Among other things, Richard Davidson, the center’s founder, studies how meditation changes the human brain.

The monk has been preaching that the 20th century was the century of bloodshed, and the 21st century should be one of dialogue.

TODAY
Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira display their white scarves, gifts from the Dalai Lama, on Rockefeller Plaza.
The growing sense of caring among people, he said, is the result of human action.

“These change not come from sky, but come through human experience. We [are] becoming more realistic,” he told Curry, who has visited him in his home in exile. “I think there’s every reason this 21st century will be much happier.”

But, he added, it will depend on our own attitudes.

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision,” the monk said, pointing to his head.

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