His Holiness the 14th
Dalai Lama and Alaa Murabit, M.D.
It is not so long ago that the word “power” would ever be in the same sentence as “care.” But that is so last century! At the recent Mind & Life Dialogue Europe, held in Brussels, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama hosted scientists, religious leaders, economists and artists for three days to discuss the need for “care” to be one of the most important competencies of the 21st century leader. Our era, HHDL emphasized cannot afford the world wars that marked the past century. Instead, he made the appeal for a century of peace. Today scientists know that mammals are hardwired for care and have observed the chimpanzee in which not only mothers but the entire community all participate in the nurturing of a newborn, including Alpha males. Humans, however, have tended to compartmentalize roles along sharply drawn gender lines. When moderator, Scilla Elsworthy, asked HHDL how to bring masculine and feminine elements back into balance, he responded that love and compassion are always key factors as long as they are not bound up with attachment, but rather a genuine concern for others’ well being. With practice, he said, it can become effortless. This is important to cultivate because in our interconnected world we are dependent on others, “so it’s in our interest to pay heed to their welfare.” Because HHDL is pro-active his main concern is always about educating our youth. Neuroscience can now map distinct brain areas such as cognition, affect or emotions, as well as perspective taking. The latter is a crucial competency–i.e. that of taking into account other cultures. That is why a tool such as imaginement® which came out of my teaching non-western cultures a both community college and universities for the past 25 years is useful. I have have guided and observed firsthand how young adult students develop their perspective-taking through cultivating their imagination opening them up to true social justice: that developing the intelligence requires cultivating the imagination which, as John Dewey points out, is not telling others how to improve their lives but developing a “faith in the social utility of encouraging every individual to make his own choice intelligent.”
*origninal watercolor by the author, Terri McNichol