Today is the first day of the session. I greet all of you. These sessions enable each and every person to vent new ideas, to point out a number of pros and cons and at the same time gain a lot of experience. Since experience helps to continue further progress in future, I commend all of you. I hope the session will be a success.
I have nothing special to tell you. Regarding relations with China, there has been no recent changes. It is static. With regard to the Kuomintang government also, it is the same as before. No new changes have cropped up. So I have nothing much to add. Repeating old statements is not necessary.
Regarding the overall Tibetan issue, awareness is increasing more and more in the outside world and especially amongst the Chinese more and more people recognise that it is a justified and rightful struggle of the Tibetan people. Such people are there not only among the Chinese outside, but within the Chinese mainland also. This is of real
importance. Thus the show of support from outside is becoming stronger. And most important of all is the spirit and courage of our people within Tibet which is the foundation of our strength. Inside Tibet, in various places of the three provinces (cholkas), awareness about our activities is growing. Due to this, in various places, resentment against the Chinese government is growing stronger and stronger. In this way, from one side, the basis of our hope is gaining in strength. But, on the other, as the Chinese are implementing a temporary policy, for the short-term gain of subjugating our people, they are perpetrating wrongs blindly, out of desperation having exhausted all other means. There is a situation of emergency of extremely violent persecution. Therefore, on one hand, our hopes are becoming brighter but on the other, in Tibet, there is an emergency. The time at present due to these two factors, is clearly very delicate. Thus, it is very important that not even a day or a moment should be wasted or neglected. So, as members of the Parliament you should set an example although you have been exploring every means for our cause still you should look for new ways and means. Empty words will not do. It is important that realistic and practical suggestions and new ideas should come up.
In the same way, although the Kashag (executive) and the various offices under it are working hard, still, we are at such a juncture, when it is like having almost reached the top of the hill, if we slide back and roll downwards, it will be a big blunder. During the past nearly 36 years, all of us have had problems. There were slips and
mistakes. But on the whole, we have been making progress. Now that we have reached a stage when the truth is about to prevail, it is particularly important that we pay full attention and press harder. Inefficiency may be a part of our Tibetan character. It may be due to modesty or because of diffidence, occasionally there may be some
negligence. Sometimes due to ignorance things may go wrong. It is not due to a lack of the spirit for the common goal. But in actual practice, there are instances when things do not happen exactly as desired. This is quite possible. Therefore it is important that we must be extra careful and vigilant. This is one point I wanted to tell you.
Another point is I usually tell this when I meet the foreigners I want to tell you what experience and benefit I have gained after coming into exile. In Tibet due to certain customs and traditions which one had to follow, sometimes, one had to be serious and grim. Now, after coming into exile, under hardships one has to act according to the reality. The era of acting on one’s whim and fancy is over. Therefore many of my ideas and behaviour seem to be certainly coming nearer to the reality. I, therefore, tell them that this is what I am experiencing. Whether it is a meeting of the parliament or of some departments, we know we are in exile. When the common Tibetan cause is facing such heavy odds, when we are facing death, we cannot afford to while away time by acting on our whim and fancy. We have to be realistic and see how problems arise and how to overcome them. This cannot be done simply by being diplomatic and sweet. There in Tibet, the people are dying daily. Here, if we take thing easy, it will simply not do. Therefore, we should always realise the reality and we should be pragmatic. Whether it is to set things right or point out the pros and cons, firstly there should not be any diffidence or negligence or laziness in public interest. Secondly, it is most important that one should be straightforward. Generally, there is progress from year to year. Although it happens in any society, and we Tibetans are not an exception, but sometimes we tend to neglect the important things while on minor matters, when one has to take sides on communal lines, people become quite alert. On major issues people become lethargic and think that someone else or another person will deal with it. But this is quite to the contrary. Actually, one may sleep over small issues. On major matters, one must be fully alert and have an eagle’s eye out of its nest. At such a delicate time like this, it is important that we should be vigilant and not waste even a single minute in relaxation.
Now the second point. So many years have passed since we arrived in exile. According to the reports about the conditions in the schools, one hears that first of all, slight degeneration has crept in the children’s behaviours and their character. In the society also, there seems to be a slight increase in immorality. While, the character of the people in the settlements has shown slightly greater nobility, people in places like Dharamshala which have greater business activity, the morality in their nature is somewhat less. Some people have had this impression and they reported it to me. There is a change in the trend of the society. They cannot be entirely blamed. The kind of people with whom one has to live has its effect. In the same way, whether it is among the staff or members of Parliament, the surroundings gradually have an effect on a number of people. For example, in the society there seems to be a liking for western music, dances and lifestyle. Though these things are not very important, but if they slowly change our character and behaviour then it will be dangerous.
Personally, the reason why I am participating in the movement of the Tibetan freedom struggle is that as a follower of Lord Buddha and being a simple Buddhist monk, I believe that Tibetan freedom is linked to the institution of Buddhism. It is linked to Tibetan culture. Tibetan culture and traditions, which are rooted in compassion, come from Buddhist philosophy. So as the saying goes, “Dirty or not, it is father’s cup”, it does not come merely from my partiality to something Tibetan. In reality, pragmatically, Tibetan culture, which is linked to Buddhism, benefits the people. Not only Buddhists but even atheists are benefited by it and not only mankind but also this culture can bestow happiness on all the sentient beings. Therefore when the protection of such a culture is linked to the institution of Buddhism, I feel that as a monk, I have taken up this task which leads to my path to Bodhisattvahood. So when I think of myself, I feel that my life has become meaningful. I did not get the chance to go in retreat and practice meditation. When I was in my thirties, I had a great desire to meditate. Whenever I saw the biographies of Khedup Norsang Gyatso and Jetsun Milarepa, I used to be deeply moved. Whether I would have proved capable or not, I don’t know but my thoughts were like that. At one time, I had even told some people that I would be going for a three-year meditational retreat. The wish was there, but thinking from another angle, the achievement of our common task is related to the Buddhist institution. Since it is related to altruism, if my motivation is correct, it is the same thing as practising religion. I have been having these thoughts for a long time. So I feel that my work for the realisation of the common Tibetan cause is not for the sake of political freedom alone. It is much more than freedom. It is, I feel,linked to the basic happiness not only of the human beings but also of all sentient beings. Therefore, one of our most important goals is to strive for the benefit of all mankind through Tibetan culture. In reality, as we are under the Chinese, the condition of Tibetan culture is in a poor state. It is as clear as a writing on the wall. Thus our goal is not only political freedom and autonomy. Therefore in order that each of us should achieve such a goal, it is not enough only to deliver a correct speech or pass a resolution. What is needed is to attune our everyday behaviour and the character of our body, mind and speech to the goal at hand.
As I have said just now, right from the behaviour of our children in schools to that of public figures in the society, our Tibetan character should not be degraded. Merely posing to be efficient or daring will not do. For instance, in India, there are many decent people but there are rouges also who are cunning, who suppress others, tell lies and cheat and exaggerate things. In the same way, regarding many world leaders and politicians, generally people say out of habit that politics is dirty. Slowly if such a thinking infect us, it will be very bad and dangerous for us. There are many good things which we can learn from the well-to do and developed countries of the world for our work. We try to follow them also. We should pick up the good points, and learn from their examples. But there is no one in the world from whom we can follow the example of the nobility of character which is rooted in compassion and altruism. This is a noble example from our forefathers which we should recognise and preserve for our own sakes.
In this, other people look to us to set an example and not vice versa. In many areas, we are backward. So we look up to the progressive ones, admire and learn from them. That is necessary. If we claim to be good from every side, it will be vain pride. It is wrong. It will only lead us downwards as had already happened in the past. It will surely happen in the future. But at the same time, if we get carried away completely by outside influences and become infatuated by them, and gradually, if we become habituated of their negative characteristics, that will not be good at all. So we should be very careful and every Tibetan must pay attention to this.
Today, in this Parliament, there may not be a direct bearing on this, but at the same time, this can lay the foundation. As I have always maintained, if human nature is rooted in compassion, altruism and the spirit for the cause of the good of all, then whatever one does, it will have meaning; it will have life. But if the opposite prevails, then even if one is learned or educated or efficient, it will be like a god descending to the level of a demigod. Therefore in our society, the wrongs and mistakes that are committed, specially by those who are led astray by money and material is because they lack the spirit of the common good. Our very existence and the basis of being alive should be for morality and kind heartedness. Of all the thousands and thousands of living beings in this world, the human beings are the worst of the species. Animals like tigers and panthers seem bad because they exist on blood and flesh. But they only try to satisfy their hunger. Otherwise they do not create unnecessary havoc or oppression. But how are we behaving we who call ourselves human beings? Not only for one’s stomach and clothes, but we misuse our brain for creating disruptions everywhere. There is no one, other than man, in this world who indulges in such misdeeds to such an extent and who cause so much trouble. Inversely, if one has altruism based on compassion, all the ideas and actions of the busy man could be diverted to benefit and help others. Actually, the very existence of the world depends on altruism. For us Tibetans, this is an inheritance from our forefathers and a unique gift which we must recognise and preserve. To preserve it, it is not enough to lavish or write appropriately about it. From the time one gets up in the morning till one goes to sleep at night, it should be ingrained in one’s character, one’s body, mind and speech. Whether we are in the executive or the legislature, all our actions should be benefit-oriented. I say this only in the passing. Please keep it in your minds.
If altruism and the spirit of the common good are not there, efficiency, capability or courage will be of no use at all. The spirit of common good is the root to be kept in the mind and practised. It is also good if you can call upon others to do so. Among the staff also, if one is straightforward and honest, there will be no rift. Among the members also, there will be no discord. But if one is cunning and uses sweet words which do not match the actual intentions, and if one commits such a volte-face, even the animals will not trust him. How then can the clever man be made to trust any one with such contradictory actions?
Thus it is very important to be sincere. Many people and our own Tibetans call upon other countries and people to recognise our administration-in-exile. It is reasonable too. But the people can lose faith in the exiled administration if the actions of key people like the Parliamentarians or some amongst you indulge in volte-face, double cross and double talk. Then the whole value will be lost, the respect of the staff will be lost. As the Dalai Lama, historically, I have a great reputation. But if I indulge in cunning and volte-face, who will trust me, although it is not for other people’s trust that I am sincere? As a follower of Lord Buddha, even in my dreams, I always feel that as worthless as I may be, I should never be a disgrace to the kind Lord. So from my side, if I am not sincere, who will believe me? Who will have consideration for me? Similarly, the foundation of the body of our exiled administration is laid by the Parliament and the administrative departments. These two form the body-frame of our administration-in-exile. If in this frame, the people who have the responsibility are not sincere and trustworthy, what will happen? How can we then ask other people to recognise our exiled administration? So everyone should be careful.
From the overall situation, I am not at all worried. During the last 36 years, despite voices of concern, we have stepped forward. The proof of this progress can be gauged from the Chinese reaction. But there are still a number of unwanted things in us. Although they are minor matters but quite a few of them come up. In these matters also, everyone has to be careful. This is all.
Note: 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.