His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s exclusive interview with Hakka TV, Taiwan. Photo courtesy: Central News Agency
Hakka TV(HT): Good Morning Your Holiness, we are very happy and grateful to have this wonderful opportunity to connect your Holiness to 4.5 million Hakka people in Taiwan. The total population of Taiwan is 23 Million and Hakka is about one-fifth of the population. So I wish through this interview they can connect and make the distance closer with your Holiness.
My first question would be, you make life appear easy despite yourself being recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at tender age and also you became the political leader at the age 16, then your Holiness established the exile government at the age 24, we can look back at the history and we can see it has been very difficult journey for you yet when I look into all the footages and videos about your Holiness I can always find a smile on your face. Are you Holiness the most optimistic Dalai Lama ever? How do you always maintain a smile on your face all the time?
His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL): Firstly I am a human being, I believe even according to the scientist, basic human nature is more compassionate. The reason being we are a social animal, any social animal on an emotional level there must be something to bring together, that is human love and compassion so individual human being’s survival depends on the community. so we must love community because that is the basis of our own survival and happiness. That is my fundamental belief and wherever I go I always tell that. 7 billion human beings basically the same whether emotionally, mentally physically, etc. We all have the right to achieve a happy life. We human beings when born, the human language is not yet developed but emotionally by nature we totally rely on our mothers. That is how our life begins.
Similarly, among the children, they don’t care about nationality or religious belief so long they play together and are smiling. But once you show an angry face, even children don’t like.
Therefore according to my belief, I feel a smile is very good. One great Buddhist master of the 8th century Nalanda, Shanti Deva in his writing had mentioned that as a practitioner of bodhichitta, whenever you meet someone you should receive with a smile. it is mentioned and I practice that as much as I can.
HT: I remember you emphasised the importance of inner peace and also your Holiness said happiness and joyfulness are from inner peace. Can everyone including me, my cameraman can we all achieve the status of inner peace? Are there any standard operation or procedure to do so?
HHDL: Now the problem existing today’s world is partly due to the modern education system. The so-called modern education is very much oriented about the material value while not much importance is given on the development of inner values. Young children between the ages of 5-7 years, basic human values are very much alive. But once they join an education institution, they start differentiating things on the basis of faith and nationality. Also the children from birth they have the potential to show others loving kindness. The materialistic life and materialistic culture leave no room for warm-heartedness. Only in this country, India over 3000 years, the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) and Karuna (compassion) were already developed. Buddha himself was the product of this tradition. Modern education alone is not sufficient to tackle our emotional problem as much of the suffering is actually created by us. Because we only think about material value, we give rise to competition, cheating, and corruption, etc. So, therefore, I often express we need from kindergarten level education on the hygiene of emotion. Then only education becomes more complete. Taking care of material value and at the same time taking care of inner peace. We should consider these as an academic subject without considering about nirvana or pure land but simply how to live day by day, year by year as a happy person and further happy family. That should be our aim.
HT: I read a sentence in a documentary film where it says when science contradicts faith, His Holiness is likely to choose science. That’s more than I could imagine.
HHDL: Of course I respect all religions and different faiths, however among faith, theistic religion believes in God as the creator while non-theistic religion is all about self-creation. Having said, that I also believe that investigation using reason and logic is very important. I am a follower and student of Nalanda tradition, the Nalanda tradition always emphasis on investigation research and experiment, not blind faith. Buddha himself told his scholars and disciples not to follow his teaching out of faith alone but rather conduct thorough investigation and experiment. That way some of the great scholars like Lusan Bhusa and Nagarjuna have actually rejected some of Buddha’s teachings as they found them contradicting reason and logic. And then my own experience you see, about 40 years I had serious discussion with scientists about cosmology. We have had many sorts of discussion on how the whole universe and galaxies are formed and how they will eventually disappear. All these quite details the explanation given in some Buddhist texts.
HT: Then I am going to the second part of the question. Is Your Holiness a friend of Taiwan? Most of the people of Hakka are migrants from China like 400 years ago and of course, this is different from the story of Tibetan refugee in general. I remember during the first anniversary of the exile government, Your holiness delivered a speech and mentioned that your first priority is to settle down and continue the Tibetan culture and tradition. Could your Holiness tell us what is or what are the special features or qualities of Tibetan culture? what makes Tibetan people different from other people culturally?
HHDL: Tibet is quite a big land, and Xinhai province and Xinkhang Kham area, and central Tibet and western part of Tibet are slightly different from each other in their dialect but all use the same scripture which was actually translated in the 8th century. The Tibetan emperor of 8th century, he invited Nalanda master Shanta Rakshita who introduced Buddha dharma according to Nalanda tradition. He advised the Tibetan emperor of 8th century to introduce Tibetan scripture. Altogether we about 300 volumes of Buddhist texts in the Tibetan language which is something unique.
HT: I am going to ask you a question related to this. Do you His Holiness pay attention to the protest in HongKong recently?
HHDL: When Deng Xiaoping first created one country two systems, realistically speaking its wonderful. But looking at the recent outbreak of protest in Hong Kong I feel some worry. Peace is very important and any problem we can solve through dialogue.
Then Taiwan, you have preserved freedom, democracy, and most important ancient Chinese cultural heritage very well. That is very important. So sometimes I feel mainland China under the leadership of totalitarian system you see they want to liberate Taiwan but I feel in the long run Taiwan’s democracy freedom and traditional religious knowledge will eventually defeat the totalitarian. Moreover, thousands of Chinese students and tourists have the opportunity to see the outside world so thinking is changing. I had the opportunity to meet some Chinese students from mainland China in Australia and some in America and Europe also. They actually told me when they were in China mainland, because of government Propaganda, they had the impression of Dalai Lama as someone old and very narrow-minded but when they attended some of my talks they told me they found the opposite. Now China is in more wider contact with the outside world, therefore, China will gradually Change. Democracy is the future of the world and not a totalitarian system. Deng Xiaoping once made famous remarks that said ‘a white cat or black cat doesn’t matter as long as it can catch the mice’. So whether capitalism or socialism important is people’s living standard, economy. So I think as a result of his opening China to the outside world, the economic condition of China has become much better. Millions of Chinese including peasants got some benefits. Now Xi Jimping era, he quite boldly struggled corrupted officials, that’s good. He himself of course leader of such a huge country over billion populated nation, many decades following just one totalitarian system, he must be finding difficulties but his thinking is more realistic. I think eventually human nature, we love freedom and Taiwan having the same Chinese culture, same Chinese people is much developed because of the freedom.
HT: Would you like to visit Taiwan, Again?
HHDL: Firstly we need some kind of positive blessing from mainland China. 1997 was the first time I visited Taiwan. I gave some teaching. I was very much impressed. When I reached Taipei airport, I wished some representative from the Chinese embassy would see I was in Taiwan. what I am saying is they should know my visit is purely Spiritual, nothing to do with politics. Then I decided to do alternative visits to Taiwan. The second visit was in 2001 and the third time was not possible.
Then in the meantime, we developed direct contact with the Chinese government in Peking and I began to feel little inconvenient to visit Taiwan again. However, we shall now see but I have friends from Taiwan who come to see me often. Finally, my advise to Taiwanese people is they should not demoralize and keep up the enthusiasm in a strictly non-violent and peaceful way. And also it is very important to keep visitors from Mainland China open. I will never forget my visit to Taiwan in the past and if in the future an opportunity comes, I am very much willing to visit Taiwan again. Thank you!