TODAY   |  May 20, 2010

Dalai Lama: Humanity is getting better

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, has dedicated his life to delivering a message of compassion, peace and happiness. He sits down with TODAY’s Ann Curry to share spiritual words of wisdom.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

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 ...