His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke with news broadcaster and meditation app creator Dan Harris this week for the news program Nightline and the podcast Ten Percent Happier. In the interview, which is scheduled to be aired on Nightline on 28 May at 12 a.m. US Eastern Time, the Tibetan spiritual leader said he has been in isolation in recent months in order to ensure his health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Usually I [am giving] some lecture and some teaching from time to time, now [I] no longer [have] the opportunity,” the Dalai Lama said. (ABC News)
Speaking on his daily schedule in isolation, the Dalai Lama said that he watches some television, reads, and continues his meditation practice of four to five hours per day.
For television, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said he especially appreciated shows documenting the lives of animals. “Sometimes the animal, tigers or leopards, these sometimes [can be] a little bit uncomfortable. But deer and [similar animals are], very peaceful, very peaceful,” he said. “I found to look [at] animals . . . you appreciate this, your life.” (ABC News)
Always quick to seek to alleviate the suffering of others, the Dalai Lama offered two points of advice for those who are having a difficult time dealing with the restrictions imposed as a result of pandemic. The first is to meditate.
For those who are struggling with life in isolation or are having a hard time managing the anxiety that goes along with adjusting to life around a global pandemic and restrictions, the Dalai Lama suggested practicing meditation in the early morning.
Even if at first your meditation is only onesecond at a time, he said, you can work your way up to “one minute, five minutes, 10 minutes.” (ABC News)
His second piece of advice was to practice compassion toward others in this difficult time, and to continue to lessen our attachments to ego as we look to those around us who may need help.
“Taking care [of] other[s] is actually taking care of yourself,” the Dalai Lama advised. “To just take care of yourself is narrow, foolish, [and] short-sighted. As much as you love yourself . . . you should take care of [others] more.” (ABC News)
“As soon as I wake up, I always think [of] altruism. That really brings inner peace . . . inner strength,” he told Harris. (Apple Podcasts)
The interview with ABC was conducted remotely by video link, with the Dalai Lama in his Dharamsala residence in northern India. It was coordinated by The Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which was founded by long-time collaborator and friend of His Holiness, Dr. Richard Davidson, who also joined in the discussion.
The Dalai Lama halted his public audiences in February to safeguard his health and to prevent the spread of the disease among disciples.* Since that time he was largely cut off from public life, returning only this month to resume his public teachings remotely.**
The Dalai Lama’s advice comes as the United States reported the grim milestone of 100,000 confirmed deaths caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Globally, more than 355,000 people have died as of this writing, with more than 5.8 million confirmed cases.*** The first known case of COVID-19 was in Wuhan, China, in December of last year, and the disease has quickly spread throughout the region and the world.
* Audiences with Dalai Lama Halted Over Coronavirus Risk (Buddhistdoor Global)
** Dalai Lama Returns to Public Teaching with Two-day Global Webcast (Buddhistdoor Global)