Someone asked the Dalai Lama (?) what surprises him most. This was his response.

Via elephant journal
on Jul 31, 2011
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Update: there’s a ton of discussion in comments, as well as elsewhere online, about who said this. What is clear is that the Dalai Lama said something very near to this (he does not speak fluent English). See comments. In any case, it’s quote or sentiment we appreciate, and the 2.0 nature of the internet, in this case, has only served to improve the original, simple offering that is this inspiring quote. ~ ed.

I got chills reading this. Dalai Lama? Nailed it!

Via Reddit.


How We Can (Quickly) Wake Up Our Minds to the Present Moment: 

3 Buddhist Tips for Living Life: 


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137 Responses to “Someone asked the Dalai Lama (?) what surprises him most. This was his response.”

  1. Fuck Tibet says:

    I think dalai lama should live like a buddhit and leave behind his attachment with tibet.

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Dear Fuck Tibet….Please tell us how a buddhist lives.

    • elephantjournal says:

      To honor your undignified comment and username with a real response, he has offered—for decades—to cede independence formally, as long as Tibetans gain rights and self-governance within China. Also, Buddhists have to eat, have a roof over our heads…we can care about something without being "attached" to it neurotically.

      We're of this world just as much as you, or anyone. ~ Waylon

    • dolly llama says:

      I think "Fuck Tibet" should leave behind their attatchment to going on their computer and saying stupid shit. The dalai lama is awesome and he can have attatchments just like everyone else.

    • Human Dragon says:

      The Dalai Lama does not have attachment with Tibet, he has compassion for Tibetans living in Tibet, and he knows how important it is to the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism to have an autonomous Tibet, because the world would be much poorer without Tibetan Buddhism.

    • guest says:

      yeah, from a euro-american perspective I would have to disagree. However, having a lot of chinese friends and students, I've come to learn that there is more to that than Americans and Europeans see.The Dalai Lama is not everywhere know as a peaceful protector (or whatever) of Tibet, to many he is the opposite.

    • Unfortunately, the Chinese gov't has a very active program of people paid to write comments like this. Blog moderators need to just remove such comments when they aren't sincere about adding to the discussion.

  2. Guest says:

    Where did the Dalai Lama say this? The concepts sounds like his, but this does not really sound like a direct quote. Please let me know where this quote came from? Lots of things get sent around the Internet and accredited to the Dalai Lama, many of which he never said. I think it is important to make sure it is something he actually said. I look forward to a reply. Thanks.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Google will tell you just as quickly as it will tell me…and since you're asking, I'll let you find the original source. That said, I love your healthy cynicism. ~ Waylon

      • yogijulian says:

        sounds like alan watts to me…

      • guest says:

        According to the Office of the Dalai Lama this quote is not from him…..


        Dear Amy,

        Thank you for your email inquiring about this particular quote which has been attributed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has made no such remarks, either in speech or in writing. We trust this clarifies it.

        Best wishes,

        Tenzin Gyalpo
        Administrative Assistant

        Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
        Thekchen Choeling
        P.O. McLeod Ganj
        Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) 176219

    • Mike says:

      Agreed. Doesn;t sound like a real quote. The only sites that list this quote are not really ones I would use as valid references.

      • m Andrea says:

        Actually it does matter who said it. If the DL didn’t really say it, then putting words in his mouth is wrong.

        And if the site which published incorrect information doesn’t care to check their sources, then that lack of concern for authenticity seriously downgrades the credibility of this site.

        It’s a good quote and I like it but far too often “great men” turn out to be sexist pigs.

    • Jean LeBlanc says:

      Doesn't matter who said it. Message remains the same whether it was the Dalai Lama or Bugs Bunny.

  3. jimmyjohn says:

    That quote is to spiritual living as a Happy Meal is to nutrition.

  4. BeBe says:

    It so sad to see so much negativity and judgement from people who do not have the truth and knowledge before they simply make such comments. Shocked at such low self respect to call themselves such names. So, sad………… But at least they are looking at this site, so maybe there is hope?!

  5. miss a treehugger says:

    wise words it could have come from anybody it doesn't take away the importance and truth in it! It would be a shame if the Dalai Lama is connected to it falsely as it takes away credibility to the cause of sharing the truth and making people realise that there is a better way to live

  6. JC Curtis says:

    Don’t really know what would surprise the Dali Lama but did he shout “NOT NOW KATO !” ?

  7. steven says:

    it doesnt matter if he said this in these words or not but he has said this many times in many other words. its up to us to think about the thought and try to be more present. one doesnt have to be a buddhist to believe this. its all about a more peaceful and gentle world. if someone has a better answer or message let's hear it. in our lifetime he is a great man, even though i do not believe in following any one person.

    • elephantjournal says:

      That's my feeling…even if he didn't say it, he very well could have—Buddhism is in line with the above. In any case, happy to correct it if someone finds it's not by him.

  8. Bulbul says:

    man sacrifices health TO LIVE BY FEEDING HIMSELF. many animals sacrifice their health for food (i.e. foraging) how does this make us any different. dalai lama is as fake as they come

    • Hmm says:

      The guy was talking about how messed up society is. Keep an open mind, dude.

    • Carly says:

      In regards to most people living above the poverty that still work themselves to near death so they can pay homage to their god of consumerism, they ARE working past the need of simply feeding themselves. This makes us different. No cow ever chose a plasma screen over their ability to eat and keep themselves healthy.

      • YOuvelostyourself says:

        how do you know that? cows roam looking for greener pastures. they don't stay in a brown grass less field.

        • Bri says:

          Yes but there's a difference between roaming looking for greener pastures and passing up greener pastures in hopes of finding even greener ones which is what we, as humans, do. Where as a cow would settle and graze in a perfectly green pasture, we'll walk ourselves to death looking for a greener one with wildflowers in it. Our greed makes us work ourselves to death and when it comes time to die, well, we never enjoyed all those green pastures we passed through in our search for the wildflowers.

    • james says:

      yeah, im thinking the Dalai Lama didn't say this. Couldn't find anything on snopes…
      seems like a spiritual happy meal to me. Besides, the quote doesn't really help. it says a lot, but (as Lao tzu would have you know) saying a lot does not mean helpful.

  9. joe olausen says:

    The people were slaves to the Dalai Lama before he fled to India. All religions promise a paradise to their believers whom noone could prove, not the living anyway.Man created the gods and this is certain.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Everything you learned about Tibet you learned from Chinese Communist videos on youtube about Tibet? I grew up around Tibetans, they long for and miss their world and life in their homeland.

    • Human Dragon says:

      First of all, Buddhism states clearly that there are no external gods who are independently existent (that is, real from their own side, which includes everything else as well, by the way!), so Buddhism would definitely agree with you there.

      Secondly, Buddhism does not promise anything to believers, Buddha's dying words were that his followers have to work hard to discover their own minds. Godlike-realms may result for those with particularly good karma, but then after that karma is used up the person gets reborn in some lower realm.

      The Tibetans are now so much more enslaved than before the Communist Chinese invaded, their land so much polluted and stolen, their culture (songs, dances, religion,etc) replaced by some Chinese version. There is no comparison. You could say that the quote is talking about the Communist Chinese who destroy and pollute to get quick money, and now have to spend a lot to try to get well again, and who worry about the future so they don't have the present to live well.

    • Allyson says:

      Joe, Buddhism isn't a religion. There is no promise of paradise. And they speak of no God. You're not educated. You should really go spend time at a Buddhist Temple before you comment freely in the universe.

      • Sunil says:

        Buddhism is a religion. Unfortunately, the term "religion" as used in the West is a limiting word to the Eastern mind. It is a way of life, a practice.

    • Patrick says:

      You obviously have limited understanding of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, and Buddhism… try doing a little research.

    • Jerry Olwell says:

      I think God created man

    • Charl says:

      Sorry you are wrong. God created man…but one day you'll see that. So don't stress about it now…it will happen for you.

    • pjb says:

      your making a flawed conclusion that organized religion and faith in god are one in the same. to discount a higher spiritual consciousness as mere man made fiction, is as ignorant, and close minded as people who follow an organized religion to the letter of their man made documents.

  10. Guest says:

    To Joe Olausen….I'd love to see you when you try to explain this to God…

    • smarterthanyou says:

      and the joy you perceive in others judgment is just as bad as what they do

    • anon says:

      I would explain this to god by saying if you designed me, than you designed me to think and live by what i can prove and is logical not by what was written two thousand years ago by shepards in another language than translated and changed to support the current politcal views.

    • aknight says:

      Do you also believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny?

  11. queen says:

    god has been so wonderful

  12. guest says:

    Dolly Llama lolololol

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Evelyn Ruut A friend of mine insisted that this sounded like it was not an authentic quote. I shared it which started the discussion. Any particular reference available that might authenticate it?

    # It does sound edited, which all of the Dalai Lama's writings and talks in English are…he has limited, simple English. The above is simply put, and consistent with Buddhist thought…seemed real to me, and I'm a Buddhist. That said, if you have another source, let us know and we'd correct. That said, in any case, the point above remains just as powerful and touching whomever uttered it—Buddhism isn't about gods, it's about all of us having inherent wisdom and insight. ~ W.

  14. Zenslinger says:

    Here is another quote that is of a similar nature… attributed to the Dalai Lama

    We have bigger houses but smaller families:
    We have more degrees but less sense;
    more knowledge but less judgements;
    more experts but more problems;
    more medicines, but less healthiness.
    We've been all the way to the moon and back,
    but we have trouble crossing the street
    to meet the new neighbour.
    We build more computers
    to hold more information,
    to produce more copies than ever,
    but we have less communication.
    We have become long on quantity
    but short on quality.
    These are times of fast foods,
    but slow digestion;
    tall man, but short character;
    steep profits, but shallow relationships.
    It is time when there is much in the window
    but nothing in the room.

    • monkeywithglasses says:

      Not trying to be flippant or funny or nasty… this sounds a lot like George Carlin, he liked to play with language that way and definitely had the same philosophy, especially later in life.

    • Human Dragon says:

      In any case, it is sadly true and well stated, Zenslinger. Parents give their kids everything except the loving attention the kids need. Kids are too busy texting to friends to bother talking to their parents or to sleep enough. Government is too busy spending or cutting the budget to implement what the people really need. People are too busy trying to be happy to even bother to vote in a so-called democracy. And you can quote me.

    • sockase1 says:

      this looks like it is adapted from Dr. Moorehead, minister, author, and former pastor of Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington.

  15. Zenslinger says:

    This quote is pointing out the hampster wheel of karma that we are on. Timely, and the logic is farely inarguable as far as I'm concerned.

  16. Rojomo says:

    Not all men Mr.Lama

  17. Scott K says:

    I believe that some may be forgetting that the Dalai Lama is a "modern man". One born in this age and tied to it intellectually as well as spiritually. His language has always been both a reflection of the times and ancient wisdoms. What some maybe confusing is the difference between Buddha and the Dalai Lama.

  18. This is so true! To get out of this loop we have the option of finding the core of peace. What toughts and state of being do we need to be in to know the truth of this peaceful state?

  19. sean says:

    You know what really surprises the Dalai Lama? When someone spills hot coffee on his robe

    • Mary says:

      Actually, I saw him have something spilled on him once, though I have no idea if it was coffee. He simply blinked, gently held his robe away from his body until it dried, and continued to answer questions.

  20. Ernie says:

    This is not the dalai lama's, this is from a website called the interview with god. Nice stuff though.

  21. Jean LeBlanc says:

    Oh, how Thoreauvian! Frankly, I couldn't care if Thoreau, the Dalai Lama, a Romanian writer, or Bugs Bunny said it: the important thing is the message (though I must admit, I kinda wish it was Bugs Bunny).

    Thanks for posting this wonderful quote Waylon!

  22. Kenyetta S. Rose says:

    In the words of the great Eddie Griffin "Fuck the messenger, did ya get the message?"

  23. Geez, people–
    Who gives a s@&t who said it?
    Look inward–DOES IT APPLY TO YOU?
    What surprises me most about most people is their fetish for focusing on anything but that which would truly serve their growth.
    Yet, we teachers (and bloggers) soldier on…

  24. […] via Elephant Journal […]

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  28. Teri Dillion says:

    Elegantly said. If only we all knew how to truly live in the present.

  29. […] from Elephant Journal (thank […]

  30. Guest says:

    Awfully easy to say stuff like that when you have a nation walking around behind you to dress you, feed you, house you and pray to you. The rest of us have to work to live. The rest of us have to put up with jerks who will try to harm us. In short, the rest of us aren't the dalai lama.

    • YOuvelostyourself says:

      oh so true. oh so true.

    • Kat says:

      food for thought: do you have any idea how many jerks have been trying to harm the Dalai Lama and his family and his followers, his whole life? just an entire government! i do hear your point, but just wanted to say that sometimes that certainly applies, but not as much with the Dalai Lama as with many other people in positions such as his. thanks!

    • elephantjournal says:

      Riiiight. The Dalai Lama has it easy.

      I have no problem with him making a living. He offers far more than many of us. ~ Waylon

  31. L knowles says:

    This was enjoyed1

  32. canna says:

    Should be,
    Man lives knowing he is one day going to die so lives life in the present to the full making him relaxed to look to the past and would never sacrifice his health for wealth
    DaLee Lama haha

  33. Ron Ledford says:

    That was a Happy Meal quote: Sounds Good, Not good for ya!

  34. […] On and On by Mission to the Sea Someone asked the Dalai Lama what surprises him most. This was his response: “Man, because he sacr… […]

  35. […] More. Waylon Lewis, founder of & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green content two years running, Changemaker and Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards & Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | | | | | Google+ […]

  36. Deborah says:

    It sounds like something I read in "Finding Happiness in a Troubled World"– I think that was the title. I don't own the book, but read it a few months back, as I had checked it out from the library. It is a book based on a series of interviews with his holiness over a period of a couple of years. The writer both quoted and paraphrased the lama, and specified when doing so. If you wish to find the source so desperately, you may try this publication. It shouldn't be difficult to locate.

  37. pirtath says:

    I just read a post that the Dalai Lama wrote. It's short but up front.

    "I believe China is doing the right thing. If the Tibetans would realize that India is such a greater life then there they would move out also. And never return as I have."

    It's true he said it.

  38. Joshua Hayes says:

    True nuff, but i think the 'meme' has been travelling around the net for some time…it used to be attributed to George Carlin!

  39. Baek says:

    In other words "They are not conscious human beings but still only animals!

  40. mmillr says:

    Noticed there was some question as to the origins of this quote, regardless of its source one of the problems with such comments is SO WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT? Anyone can with the greatest poetry declare that the world is going to heck in a handbasket BUT WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT?! If this quote is from the Dalai Lama and if it leads to the answer to that question then I think he has succeeded.

  41. […] However, the Dalai Lama also owns the record for the most effective use of 66 words. Click here to read. […]

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  43. Chispa says:

    Well The Dalai Lama DID say that Buddhism is a work in progress and that if anything is proved that is the opposite of Buddhist beliefs, that Buddhism would change (my paraphrase not his exact statement- just to avoid the nonsense). So it seems to me that he wouldn't be disturbed by cobbled together pieces of what he said creating a quote such as this 66 word one.

    And he also has said in many ways at many different times that the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the diaspora of the Buddhists (not the Tibetan people, the monks) could be viewed as karma because of the corruption and greed that was present and had in the past been present within the monasteries and among the monks.

    I hope he does live into his 90's and that after death he does reincarnate in the western world – as my neighbor!

  44. Calvin says:

    if im living in the now, life on the pursuit of love & happiness with my heart & mind over money any given damn day: may i please use your meaningful artwork of the dalai lama @ his finest next to this photo below in my novel, 2012 G. Code.

    I am not writing the book to make $ but for the good of man and woman of this beloved planet, 12/21/12 = renaissance and I’m voicing the change that can truly help “we the people” of this glorious earth, if given permission to use this I can send you a copy with 3 options of reimbursement

  45. Barreto says:

    If he did or did not say it, it doesn't matter as long as it's an amazing quote along the way.

  46. arif says:

    exactly exactly and 100 percent true

  47. Greg Eckard says:

    very eloquent quote. Carpe Diem!

  48. Janus says:

    The purpose of sharing this post is to inspire people, not to start an argument. It also serves to wake us up, if we want to be waken. Great stuff!

  49. Naomi says:

    The Dalai Lama never said this. You should check first before attributing this stuff to him. It sells but it's not the truth.

  50. Anders says:

    This is obviously a hoax. The Dalai Lama would say anything as moralistic and condescending as this. I am, to be honest, surprised any Buddhist would fall for it.

    • Anders says:

      That is, "the Dalai Lama would NEVER say anything as moralistic and condescending as this."

      • elephantjournal says:

        Well, you sound nicely condescending, so you've got him covered. Read the other comments—he said something very close to this. Obviously he doesn't speak fluent English. As I said in the updated intro, he didn't seem to say exactly this. But whomever said this, it's worth contemplating. ~ Waylon.

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