Tibet: The Dalai Lama on Addressing Challenges Nonviolently
During a press meeting in Newark the Dalai Lama elaborated on how to face global challenges nonviolently and also expressed his views on the status of Tibet and its relations with China and India.
Below is an article published by DalaiLama.com:
Talking about his first commitment of promotion of human values, His Holiness said that we are all the same human beings; we all want a happy life. He said that people mistakenly think that happiness can be achieved through material development. He added that we needed to realize that the source of happiness is within ourselves. He emphasized that these human values needed to be promoted through an approach that did not touch on religion to be inclusive of all human beings.
Referring to his commitment to the promotion of religious harmony, His Holiness said on a few occasion, and particularly yesterday’s development (May 11, 2011 when he heard a Christian nun and a gentleman at a panel in the University of Fayetteville in Arkansas talking about their Christian religion inspiring them in their work) confirmed his belief that all religions have the same potential to inner peace notwithstanding their philosophical differences. He said the real purpose of all religions was the same: to promote love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and self-discipline.
His Holiness outlined the history of contact with the Chinese leadership. He said direct contact began in 1979 and there was real hope in the early 1980s, but that things became difficult and contact ceased in early 1990s. He said, “again we renewed direct contact with Central Government” in 2002 and since then there have been nine rounds of talks but no positive result. He said even our sincere proposals under the Chinese constitution was described as disguised independence movement. In the meantime, His Holiness said the situation inside Tibet had been becoming worse and worse. Nevertheless, he said from our side always we are always open for talks.
His Holiness said there is problem in Tibet but that Chinese officials refuse to accept that. He suggested that journalists should visit Tibet to see the situation and to see whether there is problem or not. Sooner or later we have to tackle this problem, he added. “Once the Chinese central government really addresses the real situation we are always ready to help,” His Holiness said.
On the issue of his succession, His Holiness said that major Tibetan religious leaders in exile have been meeting occasionally in the past and this issue of successor of Dalai Lama has been a topic of discussion in the past few years. However, nothing has been finalized, he said adding that perhaps there could be another conference of top religious leaders within this year. He joked by asking the people at the press meet whether, by looking at his face, they could tell there was any need to hurry in deciding on his succession or not.
His Holiness said there was a need for a long-term strategy. He said people should seriously address the issue of gap between the rich and the poor, not just in the United States, but also in India, China, etc. This gap is leading to feeling of discomfort among the poor who then become frustrated. Frustration leads to anger, which in turn leads to violence, he said.
His Holiness said education was important in changing the situation. The education system needed to incorporate moral teachings through a secular way. His Holiness explained that secularism does not mean disrespect of religion but respect of all religions, as well as for non-believers, as was the case in India.
To a question about the appropriateness of violence in the name of justice with regard to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, His Holiness reiterated his long standing opposition to death penalty and said that he was a signatory to a campaign by Amnesty International to abolish the death penalty. He said right from his childhood when he learnt of the hanging of German leaders after the Nuremberg Trials he felt sad, as these people were already defeated. He also referred to the hanging of Saddam Hussein, who was already defeated. He said death sentence in such cases appeared to be out of revenge and not preventive. His Holiness said there were different views on the issue of the killing of Bin Laden. Some support it while others say it was wrong. He said he was among those who think it was wrong.
His Holiness recalled that during the commemoration of the first anniversary of the September 11 tragedy in Washington, D.C., he had the opportunity to mention that we should not be against a whole community just because of the mischievous action of a few people. He said mischievous individuals were in all religious communities.
When asked about his view on Tibet House USA, His Holiness said that he knew Prof. Robert Thurman from a long time. His Holiness said he appreciated the founding of Tibet House to bring awareness to Tibetan culture. While saying that Prof. Thurman was living his life in the spirit of Tibetan Buddhist culture, His Holiness drew attention to the difference between Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhist culture. He said Tibetan Buddhism was for the individual while Tibetan Buddhist culture was for the community. He talked about a community of Tibetans who were Muslims but still their way of life was Tibetan Buddhist culture.
To a question on the Indian Government’s position on Tibetan independence, His Holiness said that in the late 1940s and the 50s there seemed to have been serious discussions among Indian leaders, including Sardar Patel, which resulted in the formulation of a policy on Tibet. He said the successive Indian governments have consistently followed this policy. His Holiness clarified that we were not seeking separation and that Tibet had been materially backward and Tibetans wanted modernization. Therefore, it was beneficial to remain with the People’s Republic of China but that Tibetan Buddhist heritage as well as our language and script were such that needed preservation through meaningful autonomy for Tibet. His Holiness expanded on the fact that Tibetan Buddhism is richer than other Buddhist traditions, including Chinese Buddhism. For example Buddhist logic was something that was present in Tibetan Buddhism and not in Chinese Buddhism, he said. He said Tibetan Buddhist culture was of concern not just to the six million Tibetans but for many million more people in the Himalayan region as well as Mongolia and in the Russian Federation, who follow Tibetan Buddhism.
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