Dharamshala: In an interview with Times of India last weekend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama derided China’s successive efforts to erase Tibetan language and culture as futile, calling it an “impossible” thing to do.
“The Chinese have an ancient culture. Tibetans too have an ancient culture that’s difficult to eliminate. Nearly 60 years on, the Tibetan people still show how much they love their own culture,” His Holiness was in conversation with Senior Editor Narayani Ganesh, TOI.
His Holiness stated sharply that the Chinese government must respect Tibetan culture and language if it wants to achieve harmony and stability.
“The Chinese government must respect Tibetan culture and the Tibetan language. One time, Chinese narrow-minded officials deliberately tried to eliminate Tibetan language and script — this is impossible to do. I think the Chinese government wants harmony and stability. For that you must respect peoples’ culture and language, otherwise it gets very difficult.”
Responding to a question on what kind of development Tibet seeks to gain from staying within China, His Holiness said, “Material development. China had removed even ladles from Tibet, everything was taken away.. Once communist China took everything from Tibet, many ancient Tibetan articles were discovered in Hong Kong’s markets.
“Now the time has come for the Chinese to pay more for our material development, which is good. Several thousand Tibetans even illegally emigrated to America and Europe — not seeking spiritual knowledge but seeking dollars. We also need material development. And many Chinese are showing genuine appreciation of Tibetans’ spiritual knowledge..”
The Tibetan spiritual leader also discussed a wide array of topics including his latest commitment to revive ancient Indian knowledge in modern India; his vision for a happier peaceful world, how to achieve inner peace, secular ethics, Buddhist science and reflections on his 60-year long association with India. Read the full interview here.
How can we train the minds of governments to avoid anger and conflict so there are no wars?
Buddhism is a non-theistic religion; so everything rests on our own shoulders and emotions. Buddhists say all negative emotions are born from ignorance. Wisdom is the only method to remove ignorance, which is the basis of attachment and anger. Scientists also now explain that.
Now the point is that non-theistic tradition that emphasises training of the mind is found in this country alone. I have 100% conviction that ancient Indian tradition can make a better world through education.
In Kolkata last month you said, “We are not seeking independence from China… We want more development.” What kind of development?
Material development! (laughs). China had removed even ladles from Tibet, everything was taken away! An important statue of the Buddha went missing in Lhasa during Panchen Lama‘s time. Then, he enquired, ‘Where is that Buddha statue?’ Later, a lama who went to China told me that he saw an important Buddha statue in a Chinese warehouse, cut in the middle. They had tried to melt it. So he brought it to Lhasa and put it together again. Once communist China took everything from Tibet, many ancient Tibetan articles were discovered in Hong Kong’s markets.
Now the time has come for the Chinese to pay more for our material development, which is good. Several thousand Tibetans even illegally emigrated to America and Europe — not seeking spiritual knowledge but seeking dollars. We also need material development. And many Chinese are showing genuine appreciation of Tibetans’ spiritual knowledge.
On Secular Ethics
Now I want to tell you — to revive ancient Indian knowledge, these few thousand monkscholars can make a contribution; the only problem is of language. In the last few years, I have asked them to learn English, Hindi and a few other south Indian languages like Malayalam. So now, more Tibetan scholars can speak some Indian languages. So they can make significant contribution.
We are thinking of training teachers and making a draft curriculum that will include secular ethics in all schools with the help of Emory University in the US and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. We will carry this out at an experimental level and examine the results after a couple of years.
If the research is positive, we can expand and the Union ministry of culture can take it up. That is our thinking now.