His Holiness the Dalai Lama is interacting with neuroscientist Richard Davidson. Photo: screenshot

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Dharamshala, India — "Happiness is very much related with our emotions. If our mental state is calm and peaceful, then external factors can not disturb our mind. The mind can be trained to build constructive emotions and reduce destructive emtions," said His Holiness the Dalai Lama, while interacting with scientists as part of the Science & Wisdom of Emotions Summit.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama engages in a dialogue with neuroscientist Richard Davidson and psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman online from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India, as part of the Science & Wisdom of Emotions Summit organized by Mind & Life Institute and the Awake Network.

Neuroscientist Richard Davidson stated "in neuroscience we used the term well-being which means genuine happiness which has been described in different ways, although there is lack of agreement over the factors that make up genuine happiness. And so the question that we have is Your Holiness , what are the key elements of genuine happiness ?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama answered by saying, "Happiness is very much related with our emotions. Many factors can influence our mind, but the most important factor is our mental state, if our mental state is calm and peaceful, then external factors can not disturb our mind. The mind is very important; one good thing is that, it can be trained,through trainning, can build constructive emotions and reduce destructive emtions. positive emotion is based on the reason while negative emotions are based solely on emotion, in long run, emotions can be changed, destructive emotions can be reduce and elimate by mind training".

"Human Beings being social animals, our life entirely depends on Mothers affection and our family’s affection, we have to take serious concern about the group or circle our life is dependent on".

Author Daniel Goleman asked His Holiness, ‘What do you think makes an emotion destructive?’

His Holiness said, "characterization of a particular state of mind has a destructive or constructive, it really has to be understood in relation to our basic disposition. It is not something we human beings have but essentially all sentient beings have this natural drive to seek happiness and to avoid suffering. So anything that leads to, or is contrary to this disposition can be categorized as destructive in a broad sense".

Daniel Goleman posed a pertinent question about anger, ‘you included anger as a destructive emotion but when I think about anger , examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King come to thought, they are angry at social injustice but they use their anger , can you tell us how we can have something known as constructive anger ?’

His Holiness answered, "this example of anger in the context of confronting injustice , what I would argue actually one could confront these injustices quite effectively without anger , without resorting to anger by using compassion. Many of the acts of injustices are either coming from a place of ignorance or befalling victims to destructive emotions, or discriminatory sort of bias attitude on the part of the perpetrators whose understanding of fellow human beings are lacking".

"In the case of Tibetans, we are fully cognizant of the injustices which are taking place back home in Tibet, yet at the same time we are trying to carry a struggle where we strive to ensure that we never lose sight of the humanity of the other side, always remembering the humanity of the other side. And whatever resistance is being offered is from a place of wanting to be helpful to both sides. So, clearly anger can be a motivating factor but one can also bring ‘compassion’ as a powerful lens against injustice".

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