The founding member of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformation of Values, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tenzin Priyadarshi, inaugurated in Colombia the program for transforming values in which enterprising leaders linked to Recon, a foundation that promotes projects of social impact in the country took part.
Priyadarshi, born in India, entered the monastery at the age of 10 and was ordained a monk by the Dalai Lama. Today, the center that bears the name of his mentor promotes critical
thinking at a time when corruption highlights the need to work on the values that govern modern societies. El Tiempo spoke with Priyadarshi about it.
What are the main challenges of ethics at a time when there is the idea that you have to be successful at any price?
We need to be more aware of the way we want to see the values reflected in our society, and, more importantly, the values we want to remain in future generations, values such as empathy, compassion, trust. If we begin to explore models that promote values, there will be more chances of creating a world in which there is peaceful cooperation.
How to make society give ethics the importance it has?
If we look at the state of leadership, we see that there is a deficit of resolution of values. A challenge to the way we traditionally think of ethics, be it religious, historical or social, is that we need to change, innovate, promote a value-based system that shifts into critical thinking. Ethics is not only a belief system, but it has to be deeply related to critical thinking, and those tools must be given to younger generations. You have to understand what the exchanges are, that is, if I do not practice these values, what is the cost of that, what is the personal cost, for my family, for the world in which I live.
We need to be more aware of the way we want to see the values reflected in our society
Corruption is closely linked to the lack of ethics, but it is widespread, can we say that ethics are in crisis?
Yes. That’s why it’s not enough to create a romantic idea around the corruption boom. It’s not just fixing things quickly, it’s disinfecting the system altogether; and in order to do that we have to train people, which means you cannot give them messages about ethics, but you have to train people on how to be ethical. It is important to extend the good values that society has. Colombia is a resilient country, and that has to be amplified; for example, using resilience as a platform to build a sense of trust, transparency and empathy.
There are people who believe that capitalism and ethics are incompatible. What do you think?
Each system is driven by a set of values; capitalism also has an established set, and that does not mean that in the long run it is the right set of values. It is a system that promotes the idea that greed is good, but I also believe that capitalism is useful in terms of innovation, personal growth, experimentation, taking risks, those things are useful.
A constant excuse for the way we act is that violence and cruelty are inherent in our nature …
People have the ability to be violent, the ability to be altruistic, to have compassion, of being selfish and also, of caring for others. All these models exist in human societies. The problem is what we should externalize. The important thing is that people recognize that there are certain values that should not be nurtured because they cause harm.
And, continuing with the theme, how can we transform those negative behaviors?
It requires effort on the part of individuals, of society. It is not something we can change in one night; even individual habits do not change overnight, but you have to start working on it. Recognize what the alternative is. In Colombia we have a crucial time, one way is to work with hope and optimism to create a better country, or be regressive and return to the system 20 years ago.
And how can people begin to exercise control over their values and emotions?
That begins with reflection on what are the values that govern our daily decisions. Because it is not the absence of values what is in people, there are values that overlap others. The issue is in deciding which ones we are going to use, which ones are going to be reduced and which ones are going to increase.
See note HERE