Heart is Noble
Changing the World from the Inside Out
Focusing on developing an open heart toward all others, the Karmapa, a youthful Tibetan Buddhist leader, offers encouragement to look at the causes of the world's problems and to take small steps toward changing systems and ways of thinking that seem immovable. Speaking from his experience growing up as a nomad on the Tibetan plains, and then living in monasteries in Tibet and India, he shares his perspectives on habits of consumption in different parts of the world, and how wealthy societies subjugate impoverished societies without being aware of it. The book is based on intimate conversations held during a month long session where a group of American college seniors met with the Karmapa. The guidance presented here is timely and inspiring for anyone who feels helpless in the face of global changes.
Topics addressed by the Karmapa include the importance of healthy, honest relationships; exposing the causes of greed and consumerism; how to find meaningful livelihood; protection of the natural environment; the meaning of social justice, as well as justice in food and fuel production; and how to sustain a lifetime of kind and compassionate activity.
"This is not a book about Buddhism. I don't want to talk about Buddhist theory or practice, but about our experience of life. The shared ground we all meet on is our shared concern about our lives and our world, rather than philosophical views. On that ground, we can meet as friends." Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
"The teachings in this book are tools for clearing away everything that keeps us from recognizing and connecting with our own noble heart, and for opening that heart to others in the most radical way. I am most grateful to His Holiness the Karmapa for offering these transformative teachings, and I recommend this book to everyone who wants to change the world, beginning with themselves." Pema Chodron.
"The Seventeenth Karmapa shares his deep wisdom and compassion as a lens on topics ranging from global hunger to healthy relationships and to the meaning of life. His message shows how we can each be heroes in daily life in ways large and small, and that bringing a noble heart to whatever we encounter enriches everyone." Daniel Goleman.
"The result is not so much a presentation of a Buddhist point of view, but an example of the contribution Buddhist ideas can make to contemporary convsersation. Rinpoche repeatedly explains how we can tap into our basic good human qualities, the noble heart of the title, as a source of good motivation and positive action. The important thing is to go beyond mere good wishes to actually taking action, whether it concerns dealing with emotions and transforming the mind or steps to protect the natural environment." The Dalai Lama.
Read an extract of this title
INSIDE EACH OF us there is a noble heart. This heart is the source of our finest aspirations for ourselves and for the world. It fills us with the courage to act on our aspirations. Our nobility may be obscured at times, covered over with small thoughts or blocked by confused and confusing emotions. But a noble heart lies intact within each of us nonetheless, ready to open and be offered to the world. Our task—the task of this book—is to recognize this noble heart within us and learn to connect with it, to make it the basis of all that we do and feel. When we clear away all that blocks it, this heart can change the world.
Although I am a Buddhist monk, this is not a book about Buddhist theory or practice, but about our experiences as human beings. The shared ground that we meet on is our concern about our lives and our world. On that ground, we can meet as friends. My formal study has been in Buddhist philosophy and religion, so I may use some Buddhist terms on occasion. But this is only because I have found them helpful in my own life, and hope they might also open up useful perspectives for you. Please do not take my words to be an authoritative representation of what the Buddhist texts say. I really am speaking from my own experience.
I am now twenty-five years old. Since the time I was recognized as the Seventeenth Karmapa when I was very young, I have also been aware that I am carrying the nine-hundred-year-old reincarnation lineage of the previous sixteen Karmapas. But I see myself as a human being, not “the Karmapa.” I am just a human being with particular responsibilities and opportunities. I may have a unique role because I received the name and position of “Karmapa,” but we all have responsibilities based on what we receive from the world.
Although I have had extensive training in order to meet my duties as Karmapa, my initial spiritual education came from my parents. This may be true for many of us. While my mother cannot read, she is sincere, affectionate, and loving. My mother and father were my first spiritual teachers. Our parents bring us into the world and raise us. No matter where we come from, as young children we were all cared for by someone—by parents or by other guardians. This is an experience we all share.
We also share the same planet. We have been living on it together since we were born. We just had not been introduced to one another before. It is good that we can now meet through this book. This meeting of ours doesn’t have to lead anywhere. I will be sharing my aspirations for the world with you in this book. If we recognize that we share many experiences and aspirations, that will be enough.
As we go through our lives, we all experience a great deal of change. Tremendous material progress is taking place everywhere around us, before our very eyes. We have all observed our own bodies growing rapidly from childhood, and as we mature we can watch ourselves continue to evolve. This physical development should be matched by mental development. Along with outer growth, we should also look for a deepening of our wisdom, and our ability to distinguish what is beneficial from what is harmful. Just as we can experience the bloom of our youth physically, we can also have an inner blooming of our heart and mind. We can bring this freshness of youth to the world. Later, we can also bring the ripening of our mature wisdom to it.
As we go through life, there is a great deal we can learn from one another. I have been touched by the genuine aspirations of many of the people I meet. I have learned from them. I have many hopes for the world, but I try not to have any expectations. Whether I can actually fulfill my aspirations or not, I wish to let them shape me and guide my actions in the world.
Focusing on achieving results can make us too attached to our goals. Our dreams do not necessarily have to be fulfilled in order for us to be happy. Nurturing hopes is meaningful in and of itself. It is worth working toward them, regardless of the outcome. When we make this shift away from results, we will find greater courage to act on our aspirations for the world. We will find our nobility of heart.
Until now, we have been sharing this earth without recognizing that fact. Now, we can also share our hopes for our common home. We can have common aspirations for ourselves and for each other. We do not need anything more complicated than that. Sharing aspirations and experiences can bring us together on a basic human level. Just that can bring us happiness.
Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje