Dalai Lama Hosts “Abundance without Attachment” Symposium with American Enterprise Institute
His Holiness the Dalai Lama hosted 38 delegates from Washington, DC-based think tank the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and guests including government officials, businessmen, and representatives of various communities at his official residence in Dharamsala, India, on Wednesday for a symposium entitled “Abundance without Attachment, Pursuing Happiness in a World of Economic Growth.”
His Holiness welcomed his guests to the two-day symposium to discuss dignity and meaningful living in the face of poverty, escaping poverty through entrepreneurship, the power of free enterprise, and morality versus the market. “Of course, India has long been my spiritual home, but for the last nearly 57 years it has been my physical home too—welcome to all of you,” he said. “I’d like to say at the start that this is an informal meeting among fellow human beings.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
In his opening words as moderator, AEI president Arthur Brooks urged those gathered to discuss actionable ways to lift people out of poverty through free enterprise. Referencing the three pillars of the Buddha’s teachings, which he’d learned from the Dalai Lama—moral living, concentration, and wisdom—Brooks noted that His Holiness regarded wisdom as something that arises from examining what is true, something about which we have to reach our own conclusions.
Brooks emphasized the urgent need to reduce the wealth gap in modern society, which would be the focus of the agenda for the next two days, saying, “Development is not just big buildings and big factories in a concentrated place. In India, rural areas still remain poor. So I think real development should take place in the rural areas.” (Phayul.com)
The Dalai Lama observed that several cities in the United States had declared themselves cities of kindness or compassion, suggesting that a similar initiative be adopted in India. “We need to bridge the gap between rich and poor. We need to find ways to lift people up,” he said. “Here in India as people continue to flock into the cities I think there is an urgent need to bring development to the rural areas. What the rich can do is to respectfully provide facilities and education. But the poor have to work hard and develop self-confidence; wallowing in anger and resentment wins nothing.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Panel-member Paresh Shah, a Los Angeles-based business executive and yogi, recommended viewing material wealth as a form of energy that has to flow and be shared to be beneficial. Rather than hoarding, we have to share, and as we share more comes, he said, adding, “What we learn is that our inner world shapes our outer world—through our own emotional hygiene we can touch everyone.”
The second session, moderated by Danielle Pletka, senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, discussed building business opportunities in India’s slums. The AEI has taken a particular interest in a Mumbai slum called Dharavi, estimated to be home to between 700,000 and 1 million people.
Slum resident Akran Shah, who has been a tailor for 25 years, said that what the community needed from the Indian government was improved healthcare facilities and measures to contain communicable diseases such as dengue fever. He praised the social harmony that exists in Dharavi despite the overriding poverty, with members of all the major religions living peacefully in the same community.
The Dalai Lama underlined the importance of living with compassion to create a world based on respect for the oneness of humanity: “If we try, we can create a more equal, more compassionate world, although I don’t expect my generation to live to see it,” he said. “People need to find a way to be useful while maintaining their dignity. If they can’t do that they are likely to waste their lives. I believe we each have the ability to do something to change the world, not from the top down, but starting as individuals. I don’t think praying to God will solve our problems, because God didn’t make our problems; we did. So we need to find a solution to them.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The AEI is an independent non-profit organization conducting research on the issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare. Its stated mission is “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty, and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate.”
AEI Symposium - Abundance without Attachment - day 1 (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
American Enterprise panel convenes with spiritual leader of Tibet (The Tibet Post)
Dalai Lama participate in conference on poverty alleviaton (Phayul.com)
American Enterprise Institute