The Wisdom of the Dalai Lama in Person.


The Young Minds Conference being held at Sydney Town Hall had a lucky guest for the opening session on the 17th of June - His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

I was fortunate to be a part of the fantastic panel that flanked the Dalai Lama, including the moderator Simon Longstaff, and Professors Deborah Harcourt and Carla Rinaldi.

Check out the official conference's blog here...

What a session! The topic was huge, "How to grow a good person".

What a topic indeed...


Justice cannot be done to the morning by recounting a few simple words, but I will do my best!

An unexpected surprise was the Dalai Lama's candour and sense of humour (especially at his own expense - it's awesome to know I'm not the only one who laughs at my own jokes!). It is easy to forget in those simple moments that he is Nobel Laureate and the religious leader of his people.

What did he say?

He talked about the importance of family and the kindness of his mother, who 'never showed an angry face'.

He laughed about life as a young student who was only interested in playing, as all kids are.

He ruminated on the secular nature of ethics and morals...

He took us on a journey of a spiritual man who sees goodness as not being the sole property of those with religion, but of humanity.

This, he stressed.

'We should teach morals and ethics as a curriculum subject!'

His emphasis was profound.

To him, the values of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, respect and the like are not values that we should, as religious folk, be protective of but should share, as they are humanity's values.

Instead, they are secular morals that are based on biological factors that are about keeping humanity going. It was an interesting argument, and one that gives much food for thought.


A profound experience. I've had the blessing of speaking with His Holiness before, however this experience was a little different. Perhaps because I saw his obvious love for children; for their predilection to play, enjoy and be affectionate. We had a number of young people join us on the stage to ask questions; he would hold their hands, laugh with them, get them to sit on his lap...much like any elder gentlemen would treat his own grandchildren perhaps?

Let children be children, let them play and let them love, was his message.

However, don't let us forget that we can learn from children, from their abandonment, for their honest curiosity and humanity. Let us learn from them. Let us focus on secular morals and value them more in society.


Some among us have a wealth of wisdom to share.

The Dalai Lama is one of these men.

Regardless of differences in belief, it is important to reflect on the wisdom shared, relate it back to one's own beliefs and understand the univeral importance of humanity.

There is beauty - flawed and imperfect - but beauty nonetheless, in our collective humanity. For that reminder, I am grateful Alhamdulilah!

Moving past the 'Faceless Victims' mentality.

Faceless Victims by ramdaffe on DeviantArt  

How are we all this week? I have been slightly AWOL, mostly as I no longer have an operational laptop. Interesting learning how dependant I had become on a piece of machinery...anyhow, enough about me!


In the wake of the London attack last week alluded to here, Mohamed Ghilan published this interesting piece named 'Faceless Victims'. His lanugage is a little aggresive but he makes a pertinent point:

As if the “American” label grants him [Abdulrahman, an American boy who was killed by a drone strike] some sanctity as a human being that the innocent others killed with him, and thousands of non-American innocents killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Myanmar, Palestine, etc. don’t have the right to.

This is not about comparing casualties. It’s about indiscriminate humanization [emphasis added].

Unless we recognize that it’s humans, not dehumanized statistics, who suffer on both sides of armed conflicts, we can forget about obtaining peace at any time in the future. As long as we continue to discuss these matters with tribalist language that qualifies the importance of one’s life based on nationality, we will always view the alien other in terms that denies them what we grant for ourselves. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki is only one example of many.

The sanctity of human life should transcend religion, politics, economics, and state interests. Humans suffer on both sides of war, but we only pay attention to one side while we ignore the other. We need to stop viewing people in economic terms or as means towards political ends, and to make the public equally relate to those who fall as victims to human madness by giving them faces.

His comment rings true.

A deep frustration for the migrant and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Western nations such as Australia is the portrayal in their new adopted countries of their communities 'back home'.

This is particularly grating for the younger generation that has grown up in the West. How does one reconcile the fact that they see themselves as Australian in every way (in language, accent, cultural norms and behaviour) with the fact that the country sees those who look like them as 'the other'?

The dehumanising of the 'enemy' is a common and well established tactic in warfare. It is easier to see the enemy as an object, a one dimensional evil. This allows you to forget that they are people, with lives, hopes, dreams, expectations, flaws, just like you or your neighbour.

Until there is true understanding of the other, not a superficial picture painted by those in power, but a deep, nuanced understanding of the people on the other side of the conflict, as Ghilan says, there will never be peace. It is only through understanding and empathy that we can start striving towards common goals.

It is for this reason that I personally, am not a fan of aggressive - be it verbal, or physical - attacks of the 'West', of whomever is deemed the 'enemy'. Yes, actions on both (or all) sides of a conflict are horrific, but if we buy into a cycle of anger and revenge, there will be no relief. We must learn to forgive.

Easier said than done of course, but there are many examples of the success of forgiveness.

Nelson Mandela was released after 27 - take a moment to think how long 27 actually is - years of jail and forgave his captors.

It was this attitude and actions such as this that led to the fall of the apartheid.

"When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive." - Nelson Mandela

The Prophet Mohammed (SAW) who many Muslims strive to emulate, was also renowned for forgiveness, particularly towards non-Muslims, regardless of the suffering inflicted on him. His visit to the city of Taif, where the gangs of the town drove him out and stoned him for his message, is one such example. After this particular incident, all his words were:

"Oh Allah, guide these people, as they did not know what they were doing".

If we are to create change, we must speak to the hearts of others. Only by bringing people on the journey with us, forgiving and showing true mercy, can anything change.

There is a reason all the wise people of the world talk about the power of forgiveness. We would do well to heed their words.


Insane, sickening attacks: Let's not let 'them' win.

This article in The Conversation strikes an appropriate tone: Terror on the Streets of London, but don't jump to conclusions yet.

If you haven't heard yet, there has been a random and vicious attack in broad daylight on the streets of London, where a man (believed to be a soldier) has been hacked to death in a busy street.

Aljazeera has more details here: 'Soldier hacked to in London'.

The incident is being called a 'terrorist attack', the likes of which 'we have seen before' by news and politicians in the UK (that quote by London Mayer, Boris Johnson).


This is a sickening, terrible attack and one that is sure to garner much media attention, speculation and a strong backlash in London itself due to the demographics of the super-metropolis. It is interesting that even though atrocities are being committed in Syria daily, we become desensitised...

...but the streets of London are not a warzone, and the attack happened near the gates of a primary school.


For those who will premetively speculate or link the attack to Islam, stop.

We (as a society in general) must not let sick violence hijack our peace and work towards harmony. We (as Muslims) must not let people commit terror in the name of the religion that we believe in and stay silent.

Islam explicitly forbids killing innocents.

"Nor take life -- which Allah has made sacred -- except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is helped (by the Law)." [Quran 17:33]

Thus the term 'Muslim Terrorist' is an oxy moron (see more on this here).

It is a shame that every time there is attack we (as Muslims) must go on the offensive, denying any link, defending our religion. It is frustrating that we must constantly justify our way of life and our beliefs.

Unfortunately though, this seems to be the status quo.

In a world where Islam and the cultures of the East are 'Othered' and misunderstood, is it the responsibility of Muslims living in the West to educate on the true values underpinning the religion? Perhaps. But it can also be exhausting.

In the Aljazeera article, a Muslim resident of the area echoed similar sentiments:

"This has nothing to do with Islam, this has nothing to do with our religion. This has nothing to do with Allah," he said. It's heartbreaking, it's heartbreaking."

Defenses aside though, the purpose of the attack is still unconfirmed.

I think a harder question that must be asked though is why.

Why do young men feel the need to commit such acts of terror??

What sickness is in our society, what are we missing, that allows such motivations to exist and fester into action? Be it the numerous shootings in the United States or even Norway, to the hacking attack in London; these are not the results of well balanced and harmonious communities.

Is it foreign policy stances? Is it family structures and issues growing up? Is it lack of support and understanding as a society as to what young men are experiencing? Is it mental health or the lack thereof? Is it misunderstanding? A combination of all the above?

These are the hard questions that need to be asked if we truly want to work towards preventing and eliminating sickness and violence in our socities.

*Featured photo from Twitter (@BietLe_)