I always talk in a completely informal way, as a human being talks to another human being. Having a different name, position or religion is at a secondary level of importance. We are all the same human beings, human brothers and sisters, especially those of you who are really engaged about Tibetan problem.
The Tibetan problem I consider not as just a political or some other thing. I am Tibetan and therefore I am one of the seven billion human beings. Looking at the previous 20th century, there were lots of killing and violence because those responsible believed in the use of force as an ultimate method to solve problems and gain one’s own interest, but that thinking is outdated. In today’s world everything is inter-connected and interdependent and I will not go into details due to many new factors.
Now the time has come when we have to think as one human community of seven billion human beings, where most of the man-made problems, including violence and killing, can certainly be reduced. Those people showing genuine concern for Tibet, I don’t think it’s only for the six million Tibetan human beings’ rights or interests. I think many of you feel the essence of the Tibetan Buddhist culture is a culture of peace, a culture of non-violence, a culture of compassion that the whole world needs.
So I always consider human beings first. I believe all seven billion human beings have a responsibility to make an effort to create a more compassionate world. We won’t see a result next year or even in the next decade, but if we start now, we may see positive changes within this century. Recently, on the occasion of a meeting with scientists, they mentioned that through their investigations they found that the basic human nature is more compassionate. Obviously we are social animals. We come from our mothers and the seven billion human beings including those trouble-makers, they all come from their mothers. They received immense affection from their mothers. If the mother knew that the child is eventually becoming a trouble-maker then she might have abandoned it! Yet all the mothers took tremendous care with affection.
Many of my friends who are also in their late 70s and 80s, when we meet they say “your face is not much changed” and they ask me “what’s your secret to keep your face more young” and I tell them “that’s my secret and I don’t want to share”. Actually, there is nothing except peace of mind. No matter what trouble there is in the world or in Tibet, I do whatever I can on the basis of the Shantideva’s advice that if a problem can be solved we should act to do so, but if it can’t be solved, worrying about it is of no use. Consequently my mind is calm. That’s very realistic advice so my mind is quite peaceful and calm. When I heard that basic human nature is more compassionate, I was really convinced that if we make efforts mainly through education and not prayer then we can achieve world peace. I am a Buddhist and in my daily practice I pray, but over 2 to 3000 years we human beings have prayed a lot but the world became more troubled. So now it’s time for us to work, to make efforts with conviction, because seven billion human beings’ future depends on human beings’ own thinking and action. Everyone wants a happy life; individual happy life depends entirely on the rest of the seven billion human beings. So we have to think about the well-being of the seven billion human beings.
So my number one commitment is to try to promote a sense of the oneness of humanity. Different nationalities, religions, races are all at a secondary level. At the fundamental level we are all the same.
Secondly I am a Buddhist monk. Nowadays religion itself is causing more division, including killing – unthinkable! And one human being killing another human being is unthinkable and the worst ever misuse of religious faith. On the other hand, can we live with different religious faiths? Certainly yes. Look at India over 2000 years. In addition to the home-grown, different religious traditions – all world major religious traditions came to be established in India. Occasionally some problem is there, but that is understandable. I usually tell my Indian friends, with over a billion population you are not gods or goddesses, you are human beings, so there must be some mischievous people among them, that is understandable, but overall I think India is a true example of the way different religious traditions can live side by side with mutual respect and learning. So I am fully committed to promoting religious harmony.
As for the different religious traditions, I usually single out a few aspects, such as the practice of love, tolerance, forgiveness, self-discipline and contentment. All the different major religions carry the same message, whether Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and the Zoroastrians. They carry the same message and for their practices, the major religious traditions developed different concepts with different philosophical views all aiming at the same goal: to bring conviction about the practice of love, forgiveness and tolerance. Because there are people with different mentalities, we need different ways of approach, different philosophical views and different concepts. So different religious traditions developed, some within India, and in India too we see there are differences. I think different human ways of thinking come from the environment, lifestyle, and climate. So different philosophical views are necessary because of the different mental dispositions but ultimately it’s the same message and same purpose. Even within Buddhism, the Vaibhasikas, Sautrantikas, Chittamatras and Madhyamikas are all followers of the Buddha but they have different philosophical views. So, it’s obvious the several millions of different people who have faith and want to practice compassion need different ways of approach, different philosophical views. Those are differences of method, not of goal. Today among the Arabs, in Syria, Iraq and Libya, among the same Muslims who follow the Koran and hold the same concept of Allah the Creator, there is blood – killing each other is unthinkable. We have to try to reach out. Recently I was in Ladakh, in India, and among the Sunni and Shia Muslims there are very close links and no problem. So that’s my number two commitment: the promotion of religious harmony.
My friends, as supporters of the Tibetan cause, please think of my two responsibilities and whatever contribution you can make, please make some effort.
Thirdly I am Tibetan, and most importantly, Tibetan people trust me. For over sixty years I have carried the real responsibility during this difficult period. Since childhood I was convinced that the democratic system is the best system. So as soon as I took responsibility in 1950, around 1952 or 1953, I set up a reform committee and tried to carry out some reforms, but not very successfully because of the political situation. In 1959 after we came to India, within our own establishment we at once worked for
democratization. Then in 2001, we achieved elected political leadership and my position became semi-retirement. All major decisions are taken by the elected leadership. In 2011, I totally retired – not only myself but also the almost four-century-old tradition. Since the fifth Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama automatically became the temporal and spiritual leader, and now that institution has been voluntarily, happily and proudly ended. Now Lobsang Sangay la is in his second term. During our election we also got some competition from our former speaker who is also here. When I returned from America after medical treatment I met them at Kangra airport when they both came to receive me. Jokingly I asked them how much boxing? That’s also a healthy sign and I think we have achieved a successful kind of democratic society. So initially from 2001 and then from 2011, I have been totally engaged in my first two commitments. As far as the Tibet issue is concerned, I am fully committed to the preservation of Tibetan culture including the language.
It is quite clear among the different sorts of philosophical views, the Nalanda masters make intense use of logic and reasoning. I think I may mention here, although it may not be relevant, that Buddha stated that “my followers, monks or scholars, should not follow my teachings out of faith or out of devotion but rather through investigation and experiment”. So I follow that. Some Nalanda masters actually rejected that statement of the Buddha with the reason that, ‘if we accept this Buddha statement it goes against reason, so we should reject it’. I respect and admire all the major religions immensely. By serving humanity over the past 2000 years and still today, several million people get inspiration from these different traditions. That is sufficient reason to respect and admire their philosophical viewpoints. But as I mentioned earlier, there are differences, such as the particular Nalanda tradition of reasoning.
Over 30 years I have had many, many close scientist friends who have not much interest in religion but we discuss Buddhist philosophical views and particularly the science of mind. Ancient India developed highly the study of different kinds of emotion and how to tackle these different emotions, which is not considered as part of religion or Buddhism but something we should take as an academic subject. I usually refer to physical hygiene and say we should similarly study the hygiene of emotion. It should be part of our education. Today there are many problems, seven billion human beings don’t want trouble but many of them created this trouble. Trouble starts from emotion, too much suspicion, distrust, a self-centered attitude which brings anger and violence. We have to work to bring peace through the same way.
A psychological system, that is something very important. After over forty years with close contacts with scholars and spiritual practitioners, I realize the Nalanda tradition has wonderful information and methods to bring inner peace and reduce anger and hatred. When anger comes, very much related to fear, suspicion, and distrust. The opposite force is love and compassion. Unbiased compassion, because compassion mixed with attachment is not genuine compassion. That kind of compassion also comes with suspicion and hatred. But with genuine compassion, through training, using human intelligence, we can change our minds. So we should include this as an academic subject. We should include this through education, and we are already committed to making a draft on secular ethics.
The Indian constitution is very much based on secular ethics, but some Indian scholars told me the meaning of secular is not very clear, so they suggested it would be better to use another word like universal values or moral ethics. Regarding Tibetan knowledge about human mind and emotion and changing emotion not through prayer or faith but through reasoning, I feel this is something very relevant in today’s world. So the Tibetan Buddhist Nalanda tradition is really worth preserving. And with that, Tibetan culture, which usually I describe as a culture of peace, non-violence and compassion, is worth preserving, irrespective of whether you are Buddhist or non-Buddhist, whether you are a believer or non-believer.
There are many of our friends here who really feel with a heavy heart about the Tibet issue. I really appreciate that. The Tibet issue is not just a political matter – which is also very important – but I also feel the preservation of Tibet’s rich culture and heritage is relevant to the 21st century, in order to bring about a more peaceful and compassionate world. As for the Tibetan environment, a Chinese ecologist wrote an article mentioning that the impact on global warming from the Tibetan Plateau is as much as the North and South Pole. So he described the Tibetan Plateau as the Third Pole. A serious presentation of the Tibetan Plateau is of interest not only to six million Tibetan people but also of direct concern to our millions of Chinese brothers and sisters, and to India and then at the whole global level too. The Tibetan ecology is very important.
Since I retired from political responsibility, I am totally committed to the preservation of Tibetan culture, its rich Buddhist knowledge and its environment. In order to support this, firstly our friends should study more. You should gain more knowledge about psychology, the science of the mind and the different methods to tackle the destructive emotions. If you yourself practice and have fuller knowledge, then you will gain some useful experience to support the preservation of Tibetan culture and knowledge. Many of you over several decades have been showing genuine interest and sympathy about Tibet. So on behalf of six million Tibetan people I want to thank you.
There are many Chinese brothers and sisters here. Some of you I know, including those who wear dark glasses, some look Chinese judging by the face. This I very much appreciate. After all, whether the Chinese government admits it or not, the problem is theirs – which is not good for the Tibetans nor our Chinese brothers and sisters, nor even for China as a whole. The problem must be solved. There is support from Chinese brothers and sisters. I think there are already millions of Chinese showing genuine concern and interest for the rich Tibetan or Nalanda tradition of Buddhism. For the last several years I have met many Chinese who have great concern about the Tibetan situation. Many of them whole-heartedly support our Middle Way Approach and are very critical about their own government’s policy. So Chinese brothers and sisters you have a very significant opportunity to tell your own government.
I think at the government level there are clear signs that some leaders are more realistic in their thinking but some establishment officials still follow the hardline policy. They themselves are actually more confused. I think among our supporters there might also be some confusion on what is the best way to help the Tibetans. Similarly among Chinese leaders there are also clear signs of confusion as to how to deal with Tibetan problems. But I want to tell you right from the beginning, no matter how difficult it is, we believe in the truth. I usually describe our struggle as one between the power of the gun and the power of truth. So, in the short-term, the power of the gun is much more powerful but in the long run, the power of the truth is much stronger. That is what we believe. With that belief and principle, we can carry out all work transparently and openly, whereas Peking always gives wrong and distorted information and propaganda which is actually a sign of weakness and not strength. On our side we believe in truth. We always follow the non-violent way and the very basis of Middle Way Approach is not victory for one side or defeat for one side, but something beneficial to both.
The People’s Republic of China is a huge country, and the official statements emphasize the importance of unity and stability. Unity and stability come through the heart not from physical conditions. Real harmony and stability are very much related to trust but their present policy brings more fear. Fear and trust cannot go together.
So please my Han brothers and sisters, share with more Chinese intellectuals like Liu Xiabo, of course now in a difficult position, and with many other supporters. Please share with people, as the people remain always, although communist totalitarian governments sometimes seem to stay a little longer but after all they are not permanent. Sharing with Chinese intellectuals is very important, that’s how I feel. Okay, that’s all. Thank you.