In a recent discourse between Franz Alt and the Dalai Lama (leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India), the latter proposes the introduction of secular ethics, which he cautiously, yet optimistically believes will be responsible for long-lasting global peace and harmony. What’s most startling about this venerable guru, is that he acknowledges both the corrosive and beneficial nature of religion, believing it is superfluous to a certain extent. He instead puts paramount importance on human beings needing to have inner values (i.e. secular ethics).
The Dalai Lama outlines the difference between ethics and religion through a tea and water analogy. Ethics established upon religion is tantamount to tea, he maintains. This is since tea, although mostly composed of water, also has other ingredients in it, such as tea leaves, spices and sugar in certain cases. It’s these paltry ingredients, which add further flavor and gusto in drinking water. Notwithstanding, the key ingredient in tea will always remain water. Therefore, we can live without tea, yet not without water. Similarly, upon nascence, we are not born with religion, but with compassion. It’s this compassion which will be responsible for equitable and buoyant future countries and states, he believes. I hereby leave the reader with an excerpt of the dialogue:
“I see with ever greater clarity that our spiritual well-being depends not on religion, but on our innate human nature, our natural affinity for goodness, compassion, and caring for others.” – Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama (2015-06-01). An Appeal by the Dalai Lama to the World: Ethics Are More Important Than Religion (Kindle Location 65). Benevento. Kindle Edition.