When I was in Ladakh, I visited the Shanti Stupa built on top of a hill where one can sit in the coffee shop right next to it, have a cup of tea and enjoy the astonishing scenery.
As I was waiting on the counter for my tea, I glimpsed to my right where there was a big poster of the Dalai Lama with a quote attributed to him (but apparently written by Dr. Bob Moorehead):
“We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We’ve built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communications; we have become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These times 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.”
~ Dr. Bob Moorehead
Upon reading this quote, I stood still and read it again. I kept on reading it and meditated on its validity. Never before, have I read something that struck me like this quote did—it is simply true in every word.
“We have bigger houses but smaller families”
Sadly, it’s correct. We always aim at making our houses bigger with the most sophisticated furniture. We want to feel proud with the marble wall we have in our living room when a neighbor comes for a visit. We try to build perfect houses instead of perfect families. Most of our big houses lack love and kindness.
“More conveniences, but less time”
Truth is, the older we are getting, the more things we have to do. Our schedule has basically become full to the brim. We only have 24 hours a day and we are using every single hour. The sad part? We work till we’re exhausted, we party till we crash, we watch TV until our eyes hurt and we can’t even find 20 minutes a day to meditate.
“We have more degrees, but less sense”
It has become a trend nowadays to have a whole lot of degrees and hang them on the wall of our bedroom. We compete with our brothers and sisters and brag about our achievements. We collect those pieces of papers and in couple of years forget what we needed to learn in order to get those degrees and certificates in the first place.
“More knowledge, but less judgment”
Human beings have become so knowledgeable in almost everything—we discuss science, photography, art and music. We know how telephones and computers were invented and we enter debates concerning every subject. Although we did gain knowledge on everything, we unfortunately lack the correct judgment on whatever we excel at.
“More experts, but more problems”
Try walking down a street in any city and notice how many experts there are: “tattoo expert,” “health problems expert,” “hair expert,” “fashion expert,” “yoga expert…” We have all sort of experts these days but our problems outweigh the number of all specialists.
“More medicines, but less healthiness”
Never before have the world witnessed this amount of sickness. The more medicines they create, the more illnesses we face. Unfortunately, we have grown accustomed to medicines which makes it hard for our bodies to heal naturally, without the need of medications.
“We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor”
We created rocketships to land on other planets, luxurious buses to cross distant places and airplanes to go from one country to another. We can basically dedicate a good amount of energy and time to go really far from where we are, but we don’t have one minute to visit people who are close to us.
“We’ve built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communications”
Not only have we built computers, but we built all sorts of devices that are supposed to help us communicate better. But the question is, are we really communicating? Are our communications truthful and fruitful?
“We have become long on quantity, but short on quality”
I believe this can be applied to everything in our life. We have a lot of friends but few authentic friendships. We have a lot of clothes, a lot of devices, books and cars. We have the quantity, but the quality is what is controversial.
“These times are times of fast foods but slow digestion”
We no longer devote time to properly cook or to organize a healthy diet. Vegetables and fruits are slowly making their way out of our diet. Yet fast foods are quickly replacing them as they’re basically fast, “more delicious” and desirable.
“Tall man but short character”
Nowadays it is very common for us to take care of our looks and appearances and completely forget about our insides. We wear catchy clothes, go to the gym, work on attaining a perfect bod and get the latest haircut. But unfortunately, our character isn’t as appealing as the muscles we are working on.
“Steep profits but shallow relationships”
Nowadays we have many relationships but so many are formed because of personal profits. Quite often the relationships we have are shallow and actually flimsy. They have no meaning and are prone to break in a flick of a switch.
“It is time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room”
Everyone might interpret this last line in a different way but the way I did, however, is that the window represents our life and the room represents us. Our life is busy, full of activities, full of work. But the room—ourselves—is basically empty. We work on perfecting everything in our life but rarely do we think about working on ourselves. We banish the inside and solely work on the outside.
This quote really hit me the hardest. It represents the reality which so many of us deny—at least I know that I deny most of what he said.
If only we can face the truth and start fixing what has gone awry in humanity. As Gandhi puts it, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”.
More wisdom from the actual Dalai Lama:
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Daran Kandasany/Flickr