I have been unable to attend the Assembly for some time. This is the first time I am attending it since its renovation. I extend my warm greetings and Tashi Delek to all of you. I always say that I do not have any thing new to comment on or present new ideas. Today also I do not have anything new to say. It is possible that you may have made some mistakes in carrying out your responsibilities. Yet, on the whole, all of have done your best. For this, I express my gratitude and support. I do not have anything special to say on this, nor have I adequate knowledge to do that. Today I thought I would make overall comments.
It has been more than forty-five years since we came into exile. As refugees, we have a goal as well as a responsibility. Keeping these two at heart, I do as much as I can. Within these forty-five years in exile, our generation has been changing. For instance, there are many Kalons, Deputies, and staff, including settlement officers, who are now only in our memories. Anyhow, our generation is changing, but our responsibility is for the Tibetan people, and not about a particular individual. Because of this, we continue shouldering this responsibility from generation to generation. We have to carry forward our responsibility through an institution, because we work for the benefit and interest of the Tibetan people, and not for a few individuals. And this institution, no matter how big or small, is the one that works for the freedom of the Tibetan people. It is also in line with the institutions of the present world. We must, therefore, continue our freedom struggle through such an institution.
After we arrived as exiles in India in 1959 except for some emergency work for a year we spent all our time in Mussoorie being engaged in activities aimed at creating a future democratic institution. Then we arrived in Dharamshala in 1960 and gradually established the Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies and the Kashag, which evolved into an institution representing all the Tibetan people irrespective of its religious traditions and provinces. If we make a comparison of the institution of 1959 and 1960 with the present one, then we shall realise that not only has its scope widened but its activities have also been increased tremendously.
Thereafter, we established the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, the Kashag and the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission respectively. I am of the opinion that the present institutional structure has gone down quite well. We usually call it the three pillars of democracy.
In retrospect, for the past forty years we Tibetans in exile have not been deficient in upholding our identity and preserving our religion. Tibetans as a nationality existed since the three Dharma Kings of Tibet, or according to the Bonpo school of thought since 120 BC, when King Nyatri Tsanpo ascended to the throne. It is also a nationality with a rich language
Over the past 2000 years this nationality has both flourished and declined many times. Some of the decline was due to outside influences. However, the principal cause was due to the lack of internal unity, which led to the Tibetan people’s inability to think from wider perspective. Besides, factional infighting, religious favouritism and power struggle amongst the Tibetan rulers also contributed to its decline.
I am not a historian. If we look back at Tibet’s past we shall notice that it has both progressed as well as declined. There were also some instances in Tibet’s history that makes us feel sad. But if we look from a different viewpoint, we shall notice that Tibetans as a nationality existed for some thousand years. Most of the Tibetan people, under the Chinese occupation, although worthy of appreciation and a source of amazement for their sincerity and patriotism, are deprived of freedom.
As inheritors of this Tibetan nationality, I think we in exile, owing to our freedom, have been quite useful for the past forty-five years in the preservation of our rich Tibetan religion, culture, and language. This is a big achievement for us. In 1959, when the conditions were so desperate, we never thought that such things would happen after forty years. Nor did we think that we would have so many people throughout the world expressing genuine concern and support for the Tibetan cause. However, since we have the truth on our side, we have been convinced that the truth would prevail. And with this conviction, we have put a lot of effort and continued our work. But at that time it was not possible for us to estimate that we would achieve the present results.
After forty years, whether or not we call it fortunate, we have achieved unthinkable results. At present whatever work we pursue, in the beginning we will face a lot of difficulties. Therefore, we need to carry on our work for years.
We have been able to create a good organisational structure. But if we now become careless, then it would gradually decline into a state from where it would be too late for us to redeem it. It is very difficult and indeed takes a lot of time to create an institution. However, it is not difficult (and is a natural phenomenon) to see its decline due to our failure and negligence to continue our work. Development and progress are achieved through hard work and goal setting. Whether we will achieve some positive result with this good organisational structure actually depends upon the people. No matter how well the organisation is structured, it would be of no use if the people responsible for implementation lack education, sincerity and capability
<p>Therefore, whether the organisational structure will bear fruition depends on the capability of those responsible for implementation rather than presenting it on mere documents. Be it in the Assembly, the Kashag or the Supreme Justice Commission, we have had some achievements for the past one or two generations, for which I express my gratefulness. I am also thankful to all of you for shouldering the present responsibilities and working very hard.
We should not divide the common Tibetan people based on its provinces,religious traditions or gender. We should not make distinctions between Tibetan people such as early or newly arrived Tibetans. We all have a common responsibility on our shoulders. Therefore, no matter where Tibetans are, we must show keen interest in education, have concern for and be proud of our Tibetan heritage. Tibetans should strive hard to create the necessary conditions to engage in different kinds of jobs. For example, they should seek every opportunity to become members of the Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies.
Similarly with regard to the Justice Commissioners, it is important that they study international law so that they are able to better undertake the legal responsibilities of the Central Tibetan Administration. When meeting with the judges from different parts of the world, they should be able to confidently talk about and discuss legal matters with them.
As regards the Kashag, it must ensure that the staff of the Central Tibetan Administration is well versed in every aspect and able to leave legacies in their respective departments rather than just clearing the entrance test of the Public Service Commission. It is extremely important to provide education to the staff so that they can gain self-belief and confidence in themselves. Since the Tibetan people directly elect the Kalon Tripa, it is very important for them to elect someone who is educated, experienced and sincere and can lead the Tibetan people and effectively carry out his or her duties.
Usually, when we look for persons to fill a vacant post, it becomes quite difficult for us to find a suitable candidate. Perhaps, this could be due to lack of communication. Anyhow, we have spent around forty years doing this. Our many Tibetan students who have graduated from universities should take responsibilities. Instead of criticising from outside, it is very important for them that they come forward to work in our institutions. Therefore, I wish to appeal to the Tibetans that it is of extreme importance that, no matter wherever they reside,they come in to take responsibilities with a sincere motivation after having fulfilled in themselves the necessary conditions. The present organisational structure needs to be improved and it would be very good if it can match the standards of the other world institutions.
I also wish to say something about myself. I do not know modern education, nor have I studied it. I have studied some Buddhist Dialectics. I have not gone through other Buddhist texts. Even I have not studied Buddhist Dialectic in great depth. However, because of my own karma and prayers I shouldered Tibet’s spiritual and political responsibility from around the age of sixteen.
We became refugees in 1959 and gradually came to know a lot of people. Similarly, when we see human problems of various kinds on this earth, we realise that every one in this human society wants to seek happiness and avoid suffering. And since most of the continuing problems can be attributed not just to external conditions but to our mental outlook as well, Tibetan community is happier and has fewer problems than other world communities. This is basically because of the innate positive qualities present in human beings such as love and compassion. Through my own experience, I am convinced that love and compassion are very important, and indeed extremely helpful in overcoming human suffering. Therefore, if we human beings want happiness, it is possible only through leading a compassionate life. This will easily solve any problems we encounter in life, and helps ensure the avoidance of a lotof new problems.
Whenever I reach any destination around the world I always talk about the ‘promotion of human values’ and the people also pay enough attention to and love it. Although this does not have a huge impact on the lives of every person, it does help a lot of individuals with regard to how they lead their lives. There are in fact a lot of people, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists, who claim that it has made a lot of difference in their lives.
The six billion people on this earth are equal in that all are characterised by the three delusions attachment, anger and ignorance and that they all wish to seek happiness and have the basis for positive qualities such as love and compassion. Therefore, from my own experience I see a lot of benefit in sharing our thoughts with each other. I consider this as my first responsibility.
My second responsibility is that although I am an ordinary Buddhist monk I hold the title of Tibet’s spiritual leader. Therefore, without any discrimination I express equal amount of faith in and study all the religious traditions of Tibet. This great tradition is in existence in Tibet for a long time. It has captivated me, and I work for its preservation and promotion.
Not only this, the other great religions of this world, although they differ with Buddhism in theory and ideology, equally promote the message of love, compassion, tolerance, contentment and so on. All these religions help and are necessary for human beings. Therefore, I respect all religions and with a positive attitude towards them I strive for religious harmony.
I think, amongst Buddhist monks, probably I am the only one who has, as friends, a lot of Jewish, Christian and other non-Buddhist priests and practitioners. Amongst my friends I have a lot of Christians. They are sincere, and truly respect Buddhists. This is not because of the Buddhist ideology, nor is it because I try to propagate Buddhism through all means by claiming it the best of all religions. It is due to the fact that I work with a sincerity that invokes respect and trust. Therefore, I always say that my second responsibility is to promote religious harmony. I will continue shouldering this responsibility till my last breath. As a Tibetan saying goes ‘drops of water make the ocean’, I will do as much as I can even if I contribute just a drop of water. I will continue to work for religious harmony even after the Tibetan issue is resolved.
My third responsibility is that as a Tibetan and holding the tittle of the Dalai Lama, I have to shoulder Tibet’s spiritual and political responsibilities. This responsibility has rested with the Dalai Lama since the Great Fifth. As requested by Tibet’s deities and its people, I undertook Tibet’s spiritual and political responsibilities at the age of sixteen. I undertook such responsibility at a specific time not from the day I was born. Therefore, it is possible that in my lifetime there may or will have to come a time when I have to stop carrying those responsibilities.
Particularly, as I said earlier, we have been able to achieve success in our efforts for so many years to create a democratic institution and in the past few years, the Central Tibetan Administration has a Kalon Tripa directly elected by the Tibetan people. So far Rinpoche has worked very hard. I am really at ease with myself. Since the direct election of the Kalon Tripa, I am saying with pride that my position is one of semi-retirement. Since then, my responsibility towards one of the working areas has lessened. This has really helped and benefited me a lot. I classify my responsibility towards the Tibetan cause into two categories. The first is to struggle towards resolving the truth of the Tibetan issue. As it is related with my karma and prayers, I will continue taking this responsibility until the truth of the Tibetan issue is resolved and we achieve our desired results.
The other responsibility is that of the workings of the exile Tibetan community. Overall this is going quite well. Therefore, as I said earlier, I do not have any new ideas. Since there are people who are more intelligent and experienced than me, it is extremely important that everyone undertakes the responsibility of the exile Tibetan institution as if the Dalai Lama is no longer present. In recent times, we have been able to carry forward our responsibility without any failures. In fact, I have spoken several times in the past about this to the Assembly. For instance, I said that I would not be able to do many things such as reading the budget documents and giving consent to them. I do not understand such types of formalities, nor do I find them useful enough to do it. We have to carry on our work after understanding the meaning of it, rather than being formal, which I think is a waste of time. I do not think it is useful, even if others consider our work very formal. However, such things have decreased. I wish we further reduce such formalities and do not necessarily have to be engaging in them, unless it is of extreme necessity.
Usually I have to attend the Assembly once every two years. I will attend if I have anything new to say. Otherwise, I do not think it is really necessary to attend it just to fulfil the custom and traditions. In essence, I think that I do not have to be involved too much in the activities of the exile Tibetan community, which is being done with a lot of hard work by our institution. As I said earlier, it would be very good if I spend my time and energy on promoting human values and religious harmony. With regard to the recent Sino-Tibetan contacts or any other issues, it would become very clear if the Kashag held discussions and question and answer sessions on them. Other than this, I do not have anything special to say.
Finally, I would like to tell you about one elderly Tibetan from Amdo. He is no longer alive. He told me that he had to spend a lot of years in prison due to his nationalistic sentiments. He said that he led a very sad life in Tibet, and finally came into exile in India with a lot of hope. Here in exile, he noticed that Tibetans are not united, and that the exile community is characterised by favouritism based on religious traditions and provinces and that staff of the exile Tibetan administration, rather than working through co-operation and with consent, are jealous of each other. He said that the nature of the Tibetans in Tibet is such that if someone initiates a good work, they try to discourage and undo it rather than extending co-operation and support. He continued that such things also happen here in exile, saying “I lived a very sad life in Tibet, and I think I will probably die in exile in sadness”.
I did not meet him later. These were like his last words. I always say that we must hope for the best and prepare for the worst. We should know where we are failing. As one is not a stranger to what one feels, you should analyse and investigate yourself. It is very important that we consider the law of karma as witness to our work, be honest, and not feel ashamed of ourselves. I would like to conclude that since we all are characterised by the three delusions, the power of sincerity and the three delusions are always at odds with each other within our consciousness. During such time, it is very important for us to ensure that the power of sincerity and not that of the three delusions wins. Finally, I urge you all to grant me more holidays. Tashi Delek! Thank you!
<strong>Note:</strong> His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivered the above speech extempore in Tibetan. This English translation is not issued by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and any comparison, therefore, should not be made with the one in Tibetan. This is only for information of the visitors who can’t read Tibetan. In case of doubts, consider the original speech in Tibetan.