His Holiness, having mentioned the short period of ill health he underwent last year and assured the audience that his recovery had been swift and complete, spoke of his own experience of the great benefits of compassion and inner peace in dealing with all situations, however difficult. Love and compassion have profound effects on health, and indeed their sources lie on the biological level, especially that of motherhood. Emotional and physical stability in adult life are determined to a large extent by the care and affection each of us receives from our mothers; love and affection sustain many physical functions and particularly the immune system as well as having an obvious importance in human relations, while hatred and anger have deeply destructive ef fects on one’s own body, as well as alienating and harming others.
Based on these considerations, it is clear that ethics can be seen in a biological context, and as such need not be associated with specifically religious concepts. Indeed, as such a huge proportion of the world’s population has little or no deep religious interest, it is important to establish a system of ‘secular ethics’ to complement ethics based on religious belief, whether theistic or (like Buddhist practice) non-theistic. A recognition of the biological benefits of having a compassionate, warm-hearted approach to others, and the recognition of others as having feelings and rights no less important than one’s own, can form a powerful basis for the development of such secular ethics, he said. Furthermore, this approach can and should be applied by all of us on an individual level. It is no use waiting for the building of a more compassionate society in any other way than each of us applying these ideas first in our own minds, then in a family context, and then in wider and wider circles like the ripples on a pond. No-one, said His Holiness, should feel he or she cannot contribute.
Read the whole story and all of the remarks at the Official Website of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama: http://www.dalailama.com/news.391.htm