In September 2000, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Lerab Ling, an international retreat center in the south of France to give a teaching entitled "The Path to Enlightenment." An audience of 10,000 people attended his teachings about the key principles of Buddhism. When a journalist asked the Dalai Lama about his destiny, he said:
"All human beings have an extraordinary destiny! Sometimes things bring us joy and, at other times, sadness. But these ups and downs are part of everyone's destiny. I believe the most important thing in this existence of ours is to do something that can be of benefit to others. What we need more than anything is to develop an attitude of altruism that is what truly gives meaning to life." This attention to serving the needs of others is at the heart of all religions, and the Dalai Lama emphasizes how important it is to practice kindness, love, compassion and other virtues in everyday life. This emphasis also colors the second part of the book where he presents a commentary on Longchen Rabjam's Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation on the Great Perfection.
The first section covers the four noble truths, interdependence, absolute and relative truth, the continuity of mind and matter, the disturbing emotions, and enlightenment. One of the many gems in the text are the Dalai Lama's thoughts on aging and the mind:
"Our physical bodies age and lose their strength. Despite all our anti-aging creams and pills and rejuvenating treatments of every kind, slowly the wrinkles creep across our face and our hair turns grey. Regardless of what we do to care for our bodies, eventually they grow old, and we can do nothing to stop that process. In the case of consciousness, there are certain states of mind that have become familiar to us over the years and that continue even as we grow old or live with illness. If we have always been cheerful and calm, for example, we will continue to be cheerful and calm even in our old age. So the qualities of the body will eventually disappear no matter how much we might do to try and safeguard them, but the qualities of the mind, if we have really trained and cultivated familiarity with them, will remain for as long as the mind itself continues. That is why we can say that the qualities of the mind can be developed infinitely and boundlessly."
Training the mind can make conscious aging an adventure rather than a chore or a nightmare. Cheerfulness and a calm mind replace the effort to try to be forever young. Several times the Dalai Lama talks about the Buddhist practice of contentment as an antidote to the dissatisfactions of materialism in the consumer society. Those who have never experienced contentment are the poorest of all beings. It is the true source of inner wealth and happiness.