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: 

Image: Christopher Michel/Flickr


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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.

  2. Padma Kadag says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. jimmyjohn says:

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

  7. 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?!

  8. 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

  9. yogijulian says:

    sounds like alan watts to me…

  10. JC Curtis says:

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Guest says:

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

  16. queen says:

    god has been so wonderful

  17. guest says:

    Dolly Llama lolololol

  18. 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.

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Your comment is to wit and having a point as a Happy Meal is to nutrition. Seriously, brother, it's just a short quote. I thought it was dead on.

  20. elephantjournal says:

    I looked, and it's all over google, and I couldn't find the source. It sounds to me like the Dalai Lama, edited of course since his English is limited and simple. But I don't know more than that. I have no reason to doubt the source unless we're given a reason to doubt it.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. smarterthanyou says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. Siona says:

    Heh. See below.

  27. Hmm says:

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

  28. bh021552 says:

    Nice sleuthing. This sounded too professional to be the Dalai Lama, tho' he might agree.(Not sure what would surprise him; maybe China getting a conscience before it travels through it's new imperialism as it supplants the US?)

  29. Rojomo says:

    Not all men Mr.Lama

  30. zenslinger says:


  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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?

  34. elephantjournal says:

    Siona, you're on it! Anyone at that talk in Lisbon?!

  35. 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.

  36. Guest says:

    That's not Carlin. That's Louis C.K.

  37. sean says:

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

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. Siona says:

    Does it matter? That Lisbon talk was in 2007; the Paler translation is from 2005. (And who knows when his "Interview with God" was written) My money is on the Romanian activist / writer.

  43. Ernie says:

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

  44. 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!

  45. Jean LeBlanc says:

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

  46. Kenyetta S. Rose says:

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

  47. 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.

  48. Geez, people–
    Who gives a [email protected]&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…

  49. ARCreated says:

    seriously!!!!! amen !!!

  50. ARCreated says:

    heh what's up doc 🙂