H. E. Dagyab Rinpoche: Being A Good Human Being

We are incredibly fortunate to have the visit of H. E. Dagyab Rinpoche in May at both Jewel Heart Ann Arbor and Jewel Heart New York. As such, we highlight the foreward and first 17 out of 52 topics for contemplation in the 2005 Tibethaus publication, BEING A GOOD HUMAN BEING (Some Fundamental Thoughts on Human Communication).


I am not concerned here with high-level, demanding Buddhist topics such as meditation, bodhicitta, emptiness, tantra, enlightenment, and so forth. All I am concerned with here is the basis of human values, just “being a good human being.” This is the starting point for both social and spiritual communication. If these qualities are lacking I cannot find peace within myself and therefore cannot find it in society, either. If I turn away from them, I shall not only shut the door to my own inner development through Buddhist methods, but to all spiritual and social paths as well. This is the basis of everything.

I think that other people as well, such as my students and friends, might benefit from this, (although) this manner of reflection may not be so customary in the West. Perhaps as a Westerner one needs some experience with the Dharma in order to understand my advice correctly.

The following is important: When I engage in reflection I always do so based on what is the most natural assumption for me; that everything arises dependently and must be understood as existing interdependently. As a rule, people in the West tend to adopt a somewhat one-sided perspective; they do not understand that their perception of the “external world” also arises in dependence on their own mental dispositions.

The following is important, too, since it is often misunderstood in the West; self-confidence and inner strength, the ability to look after oneself and others at the same time as well, has nothing whatever to do with egocentrism. This distinction is most important. Otherwise one becomes more and more entangled in the “net of mental poisons,” expecting too much of oneself in the name of what seems to be altruism, behind which conceit and pride take cover.

In any case, you should take an open and neutral approach to my theses, i.e., without clinging to your own habitual patterns. You (yourselves) must find the right perspective for this. I also encourage you to reflect on these points again and again.


I want to be a good human being! There is no human being who wants to be bad. Therefore I must be mindful of the following points every day:

I. General Considerations

  1. I should begin every morning with a good motivation. This will bring about a two-fold benefit throughout the day, for myself and for others. In the evening I should check on myself by reviewing the course of the day. I recognize my unwholesome actions and I rejoice in my own wholesome actions and in those of others.
  2. “If you can change the things that you are worried about, there is no need to worry. If you cannot change the things that you are worried about, there is no purpose in worrying about them.” The Indian master Shantideva put the matter very accurately!
  3. I am (the one) responsible if anger arises in me. If I give in to it, it will become even worse. If I do not give in to it and instead practice patience within myself, it disappears and causes no further trouble for myself and for others.
  4. “Nobody is perfect.” But wrong attitudes and concepts are not the true nature of mind.
  5. Even if I recognize all of my faults clearly, I should not be discouraged. Guilt feelings are out of place here, what I need are courage and determination.
  6. I am unable to view my concepts impartially. I know that concepts are the extensions of the mental poisons.
  7. I do not search for happiness outside, but rather within myself.
  8. If I really run into difficulties with others, I should seek advice from friends who are able to view them objectively. I should remain calm in my heart and observe my own mind.
  9. There is much to be accomplished before I shall have reached the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, there is no fast, 100% attainment of the true goal. It is therefore very important for me to practice patience and to lead a calm life, free from commotion and stress.
  10. There are many gray zones in life, therefore I should not think “all or nothing,” but rather “both – and.”
  11. Optimism is constructive and supportive. Pessimism hinders me.
  12. Speaking without mindfulness is dangerous. Therefore I must reflect on my intentions and formulations both before and while I am speaking, and not talk too much. “Speech is silver, silence is gold.” The Indian master Atisha said, “While alone, observe your thoughts. When you are with people, observe your words.”
  13. My word is not the only standard there is – others might know more and better than I do.
  14. If I have to make decisions, I must always do so on the basis of a good motivation, taking the welfare of the group into account, of which I am only one single person.
  15. I must learn to listen and to try to really understand the person before me.
  16. It is certain that I can change far more in my behavior and my ways of speaking and thinking than I believe. All I need is courage.
  17. Exaggerating my own suffering and fixating on it causes me to suffer even more and to become depressed.
Excerpt from Dagyab Rinpoche’s book – Being A Good Human Being (Some Fundamental Thoughts on Human Communication), published by Tibethaus 2005
Scroll to Top