Dalai Lama event: Change Your Mind, Change The World.


Collaboratively written by Nelly Martin & Lai Wong

(Both are graduate students at UW-Madison)

The event took place on May 15, 2013 at the Overture Center,Madison, Wisconsin. There were two sessions: morning and afternoon, which took about2 hours per session. The morning session started from 9:30-11:30 am.

There are 5 (five) panelists coming from different walks of life:

1. Don M. Berwick, MD, MPP, FRCP, is the former president andCEO of the institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He is a pediatric bytraining and has served as Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and HealthcarePolicy at the Harvard Medical School, among other roles.

2. Richard J. Davidson, PhD is the William James and VilasResearch of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Weisman Laboratory forBrain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience andFounder and Chair at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds as the WeismanCenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

3. Daniel Goleman (Moderator) is an internationally knownpsychologist. Dr. Goleman reported on the brain and the behavioral sciencesfor The New York Times, and he was the author of Emotional Intelligence.

4. Ilona Kickbusch, PhD is the Director of the Global HealthProgramme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,Geneva.

5. Richard Layard is the Emeritus Professor of Economics at theLondon School at the London School of Economics. Now he is the head at theCenter’s Programme on Well-being.

(Blurbs are taken fromthe brochure)

Messages from thePanelists

The panels are from different fields of life but they are trying to answer the world problems from healthy mind that will lead to healthylife.

First panelist is Richard J. Davidson, Ph. D who believes that based on neuroscience studies, compassionate training can change functionally thebrain, and so people can be more altruistic. He heads a center whose “work is rooted in the breakthrough insights of neuroplasticity – the discovery that ourbrains change throughout our lives in response to experience, suggesting thatpositive changes can be nurtured through mental training.” (Source:<a>http://www.investigatinghealthyminds.org</a&gt;)

Another study also shows that 47% of Americans do not focus onwhat they are doing. Their minds wander.Doing one thing but not focusing can cause unhappiness. This unhappiness maylead to the psychical un-healthiness. In order to solve this problem, we needto practice mind concentration such as meditation.Furthermore, his research to date find that generosity can leadto well-being. A study done by his students, whom had two groups ofpeople given $1000; found that the group who shared with others claimed thatthey were happier. He then concludes that generosity can lead to thehappiness. The more money (or other stuff) you give to others, the happier youwill be, rather than spending it on yourself.

Secondly, Jonathan Patz broke the news of the level ofcarbon-dioxide that has exceeded the threshold level, which may cause more diseases to come up. Per last Thursday news, 50 years ago 300 parts per million (ppm) but now itis now 400 parts per million (ppm). Reducing our consumption fuelcan reduce the pollution issue—There are interdependence within the society and beings – over consumption of fuels by human beings. When we want to overcome some problem, we need to keep in mind that we may have already created another problem. The interdependence issue should be our concern. Because we are interdependent between us, between human beings and our environment, and between all beings, we need to be concerned not only ourselves, but others too – including our environment. We need to be consciously doing our things. We need to be mindful and lead more awareness. Without any concisousness, because more often than not, our bad things can outnumberour good things.

He made asuggestion that we use only bikes in the summer and stop using vehicles that require fossil fuels. This will help us reduce pollution in the atmosphere, and in turn make our environment much healthier for all. Shall we start biking to school, biking to work movement now? that was the question from Lai. And I agree.

Other panelist, Ilona Kickbusch, Ph.D points out that the obesity is not only a problem of the developed and rich country, but it is also the problem of the poverty. The global market of junk-food and soda/soft-drink has shaped the society’s life style. Furthermore, Don Berwick suggests that emotional and physical problems are closely related, based on his studies. He has started to heal his patients’ physical illness, by also treating their mental health. It is then highly suggested that while we actively tryto heal the physical condition, we may also want to heal our emotional well-being.

Interestingly in the session wewent, we learned that health is not just about physical health, but also mental and emotional health. Overall theexperts are finding in their respective field of scientific studies that there are many cause of health issues, and our current health care delivery system and policies are not focusing on the right target. We spend more resources and capital on healthcare technology that does not raise the quality or amount of health care services we need. Focusing on healthy mind and health life style will give us better return on investment on ourhealth care expenses. We need to address the issues at multiple levels: individual, institution, state and federalgovernment policies, and etc.

Roots causes of the problems can come from economic; environment, health and healthy mind can be one good Kindness, compassion, altruism, forgiveness, mindfulness and well-being. We need to be both physically and mentally health. Many smart people may not be spiritually healthy. So, they can make a decision, a smart one but not necessarily a wise one. For the health issues – the problems can come from individuals,community, consumerism, industrial pollution, health care delivery system,policies, laws and so forth.

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a humorous, smart and sensitive to world problem, in our opinion. During the panel discussion, he would try his best tomake some humor out of it in a very smart and witty way. When Dr. Jonathan Patz was choking for a couple of times due to his own concern about the environmental world from his studies’ results, the Dalai Lama cutely and compassionately handed him a bottle of mineral water. Another time was when Ilona Kickbusch, Ph.D stated that there are 13,000 obese children in developing countries. TheDalai Lama asked, ” Why did you mention only the developing countries? Don’t you think the children in the developed countries also have the obesity issue?” with his cute expression. The sense of being cynical was not there.

The DailaLama shared some information in the session that are helpful – just like theHoly Quran:

Be aware, beeducated. Be more self-responsible. Cultivate deep awareness bycombining our own experiences. Thisrequires our own effort. Focus onconstructive emotion. Need to beeducated, acquire the knowledge and apply it through action.

Society canbe firmly engrained in its way (habits) of (poor) operation. With new information/ understanding of thetruth, we must educate people by finding ways to explain to them. We should speak more about the issue, and howthe issues are related to what people want fundamentally (e.g. longevity).

People need the knowledge, and they need to know the seriousness and danger for notaddressing the issues. They should alsothink about the long-term interest, not only for the individual but also forthe society. We all need a sense of responsibility.

People have very simplistic view of what mind is. We need to reckon that there is a complex relationship between the mind andemotion. That is why our brain is complex.

If we have fear and hatred, the issue will not be resolved. If you love people, the harmful emotion will not come. So compassion is important. We need to educate people how to achieve peace of mind by loving and by being compassionate, not by fear nor hatred.

In essence, the world problems can be answered from the healthymind.

Additionally, as a final note, one important message for me (Nelly) is that diversity and differences in our life are certain. We need not to be against each other, but let’s collaborate but not compete. Let’s get to know ourselves, so we know others better. And if we think more compassionately, more lovingly, we can make the world a better place. Only people who have sincere faith will be a well-being and with sincere faith, we will not hurt others.

One thing that resonates in me from the session this morning (I will put it with my own words): As much as we don’t want to be unfairly treated due to our religion and belief, we also need togive rooms to the non-believers who are also human beings like us. The fact they are un-affiliated with any belief doesn’t make them less human. This point is sternly highlighted during the morning session that being secular doesn’t necessarily entail to some negative meaning and definition.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female andmade you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the mostnoble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allahis Knowing and Acquainted”. (Al Hujurat, verse 13).

At the end of the session, while I was waiting for my two otherfriends, I was approached by the Wisconsin Public Television broadcaster andcameraman. They asked me what message I got from the session.

These are the blurb of the questions and answers.

Q: What is the take-away message from the session?

A: You may come from different religion and background, but youneed to remember the essential things in life that we’re all human being. Weneed to respect each other and be compassionate to anyone, regardless.

Q: How are you going to apply this value to your own life?

A: As a Moslem living in the States as a minority, I can saythat I received some unfair treatment due to my belief, I will not return theirbad deeds but I will be a more compassionate person.

As cliché as it is, the moral values are there that we need tobe more compassionate, more aware, and more connected to others and to theenvironment.

“Let’s not forget that essence of life is that we are all humans.

eyes meet eyes, hearts meet hearts”.

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