A Call for Revolution from the Dalai Lama

I decided to read this book due to my interest in Buddhism and Penguin’s recommendation that I do.  I hadn’t seen much about the book, as to know what to expect, so I read this with an open mind on what The Dalai Lama’s manifesto would entail.

It is evident from the beginning of the book that His Holiness believes the young generation, the “third millennials”, are best to repair the world going forward.  He explains the younger generation give him hope, as they are committed to ensuring universal democracy, equality and solidarity by resisting control from dictators.  Also, when expressing disagreement, this generation does so by peaceful protests. These attitudes contrast the bloody history of Europe i.e. both World Wars.  By comparing the two, the Dalai Lama says where force is used, the problem isn’t resolved, only suppressed.  Thus, the peace-wanting younger generation are better suited to mending the world’s problems.  Although, His holiness is certain the younger generation will follow in the footsteps of history, if they give into violence.

‘Be the first generation on an earth that declares itself committed to peace and the good of all humankind.’ (p.21)

The Dalai Lama highlights many current issues from global warming, to Europe’s migrant crisis and the history of world conflict. All of which he has witnessed in his 82 years of life.  The destruction of the world comes from a place of ignorance like destroying the environment by air pollution. However, we are not ignorant in some instances, as we blindly accept the deforestation of the planet’s “last lung”, the Amazon forest. All generations should strive to fix this, but as his focus is on the younger generation, it is them who should primarily fix this. These problems threaten people’s human rights such as the right to life, as we are literally removing our clean air we need to breathe to live.  In addition to this, he claims the values of nationalism and patriotism encourage division and hostility between humans; increasing the likelihood of conflict.  He wants anything (such as ideologies) that divide people, mindsets and countries to be left in the past.  To move forward, people need to look to the past and learn from it.  Additionally, His Holiness identifies that integration (and shared solidarity) are key to prevent conflict, which resembles the original principles of the European Union.

‘It is vital to study history in order to avoid repeating the errors of the past.’ (p.31).

I particularly enjoyed learning about the Dalai Lama’s personal background, for instance, he helped establish equality in Tibet through the creation of a judiciary and ensuring the separation of powers throughout the 1950s/1960s.  Furthermore, he identifies as a Marxist, but regrets how Lenin and Stalin swerved Marxism toward totalitarianism.  He also claims he is a feminist by explaining both men and women have equal capacity for knowledge.  His Holiness encourages women to engage in their country’s political life, and to promote the bettering of their country and the world. Something that both impressed and shocked me, was the Dalai Lama’s belief women are more likely to govern countries without turning to war and violence, as mothers have compassion, and history shows it is men that have been behind extreme bloodshed and war.

Ultimately, the message in A Call for Revolution is the Dalai Lama’s request the younger generation kickstart the Revolution of Compassion.  The world needs to have a collective model on sharing, to break away from individualism as it leads to alienation.  This outcome is evident in increasing loneliness of the elderly.  We need to become more accepting of each other and accept love and compassion as our primary motivation in life.  However, I found myself asking, if we need a Revolution of Compassion, what should we look to that defines such compassion?

‘I am convinced that one can train oneself in the art of compassion’ (p.54).

We need to teach children to have a holistic reason based understanding originating from compassion, rather than our current ethical stance of the blame game for errors in judgement and actions.  He even says that we should show compassion to those who are hostile towards us. This, I felt, would be a stretch for many people.

The book opened my eyes to the treatment of other humans across the world. At one point, His Holiness discusses behaviour that is considered a threat to national security in Tibet, which, in my understanding of my liberties, is censorship.  Similarly, I have realised humans must garner a greater awareness of their carbon footprints, and their actions that affect the health of the planet by worsening plastic and air pollution.

My concluding thoughts on this short book is, it most definitely highlights past, present and future social issues.  I believe it illustrates the necessity for change in human thinking toward many global issues that should be high in priority.  Yet, I do think the book could have expanded on the events it cites as evidence for change, to thoroughly immerse the reader’s understanding of the points made.  I enjoyed reading this brief manifesto, however, it has left me feeling rather void.  I’m unsure how we can achieve the Revolution in Compassion.  Moreover, from my recent studies, I learned there are no societies across our world with no form of religion.  The Dalai Lama refers to how divisive religion is – which I do agree with.  But, with the presence of religion, different values (toward things like compassion) exist.  Thus, I don’t believe His Holiness’ plea for a better world will be achieved peacefully.  That is, of course, my individual opinion, that explain my sense of uncertainty after reading the text.  Although, I still remain encouraged, and perhaps, the Dalai Lama has answered my problem.  He explains that the young generation’s access to this internet makes them global citizens of the world, which is not limited to the geography of their country, thus there is less restriction on achieving connection.  It is well written by Sofia Stril-Rever on behalf of His Holiness; I believe anyone could pick this short book up and read it.

Overall, I feel The Dalai Lama’s message is beautiful and inspiring.  Personally, I’m unsure if it is attainable, but I very much hope it is.  I’d recommend everyone read it in the chance it would help such efforts.

The 14th Dalai Lama (Photo: The Telegraph, 2011)

Thanks for reading!

Wishing peace and positivity your way…


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