After speaking on the theme, ‘Real Change Happens in the Heart’ at the Manchester Arena, His Holiness answered several questions from the audience and the last came from a Chinese student, who said she was sorry for what had happened in Tibet and was concerned for the survival of Tibetan culture, which attracted applause. Regarding His Holiness’s assertion that the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama would be for the Tibetan people to decide, she asked how the Tibetan people’s voice would be heard. He said,
“Some people think that the continuation of the institution of Dalai Lama is essential for the preservation of Tibetan culture, but it is not. The two key questions are, whether it should continue, and if it should, how the next Dalai Lama will be found. In a detailed statement about this last year, I said I would reconsider and consult Tibetan spiritual leaders about this when I’m about 89 years old. So, you’ll have to wait 12 years to find out – but I suspect other factors will have changed by then.
“China has made unprecedented economic progress, but remains a closed society constrained by censorship. China must open and censorship must stop. The 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality of their situation and once they know the reality, they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, censorship, which is morally wrong, must stop.
“Likewise, the Chinese judicial system must be raised to an international standard. The world trend today is towards greater democracy, religious freedom and individual freedom. For the Chinese authorities to oppose this trend is impossible; change must come.
“I admire the Chinese people, a realistic, hard working people, and it’s only a question of time before things will change. Once the Chinese authorities heed Deng Xiaoping’s dictum, ‘seek truth from facts’ the Tibet issue can be solved in a matter of days. For reasons of economic development it is in our interests to remain with China, but we have our own language, our literature which contains the greatest resource of Buddhist knowledge that is of interest not only to Tibetans, but also to many of the 300 million Buddhists in China. To preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture, philosophy and practice, and to preserve and protect our natural environment, we seek meaningful autonomy.”
His Holiness concluded with an appeal to his listeners to think about what he had said earlier, suggesting that if they found something useful in it they should try it out, but if they felt it wasn’t relevant to them, they could just forget it.
Tomorrow, His Holiness will conclude his explanation of the Eight Verses for Training the Mind and Nagarjuna’s In Praise of Dharmadhatu before travelling to London.