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Making the Mind Lotus bloom

The Dalai Lama talks to Rajiv Mehrotra on the power of meditation.

entertainment Updated: Jul 12, 2009 00:34 IST

Your Holiness, what is meditation?

Meditation, from the Buddhist viewpoint, is something like an instrument to channel our minds and to increase our mental capacity. It means samadhi — that is, channeling our mental energy. Meditation is an instrument to increase our mental energy and mental sharpness, or alertness.

Can meditation be secular, or does it have to follow a a particular tradition?

No, no! It is simply a training of the mind.

Is there any relationship between meditation and religion?

Meditation is the instrument to shape or transform the mind. Whether you are a businessman, scientist, doctor or teacher, if your mind is more alert, more calm, and sharp, it’s very useful for you. The mind is a prime mover, so the training of the mind is very useful in all fields. So meditation is essentially not a religious subject.

In fact, all of the world’s major religions carry the same message of compassion, love, forgiveness, and spirit of harmony. However, this does not mean that if you accept these values, you must accept religion as a whole. We have to make a distinction between purely religious subjects, such as faith, and basic good qualities.

I think all major religions simply strengthen the basic good qualities, nothing else. So long as we are human beings, and we want to be happy human beings and live in happy human societies, there is no point in neglecting these basic good human qualities. Clearly, without them the individual or the family or the community will not be happy.

How is meditation linked to achieving happiness?

I have always believed that the very purpose of our lives is happiness. There are two kinds of happiness — one comes from physical comfort, and the other through mental training. Obviously, between the two, mental comfort is superior and more influential because if our mental state is calm and happy, small physical discomforts — even small pains — can be subdued. On the other hand, if our mind is restless, we will not be happy even with the best facilities. Therefore, the mental experience is more important than the physical one.

— From All You Ever Wanted To Know From His Holiness, Hay House India, 2009