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:: Dalai Lama: Only the truth sets free!

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize talking with Franz Alt. In the future, the Dalai Lama would love to “live as a simple monk in a monastery”. But the expectations and projections of millions of people in the whole world pinned on “His Holiness” are too high. Many regard him as a redeemer. This saddens him. A god cannot simply suspend himself. Even on this topic, which is a really serious one for Buddhists, he does what he loves most: laugh. Apparently, a divine virtue.

Franz Alt

Holiness, dear friend! Our Federal Chancellor asked me to give you her warmest regards.

 

Dalai Lama

Thank you, I am very pleased about this. We are old friends. It was very courageous of her to welcome me in the Federal Chancellery some time ago despite huge protests of the Chinese Government.

 

Franz Alt

What do you know about the current human rights situation in China and Tibet?

 

Dalai Lama

It looks really bad. This is really saddening. Many people are tortured just because they disagree with the ruling government. People with visions for a better future, writers, believers, intellectuals and minorities like the Tibetans or the Uigur People are particularly affected. Only shortly before we met, I received a Chinese writer who had been in prison and was tortured for several years.

 

Franz Alt

Why have you recently resigned as political leader of the Tibetans?

 

Dalai Lama

The tradition that the Dalai Lama is Tibet’s political and spiritual leader is 400 years old. But sometime, any tradition comes to an end because it is obsolete. A theocracy is no longer appropriate in our time. Then there is also a very selfish thinking: I am very popular in the whole world – in China, in India, in the USA, in Europe. I couldn’t become more popular (laughs for a long time). So this was the right moment for resignation (laughs even more).

 

I am very happy that people all over the world trusted me, respected me. But they still do without me having a political position. Honestly: the tradition of holding multiple posts is not only old but also old-fashioned. Twenty years ago, I had thought of political resignation for the first time. But now the time has come. Perhaps, I have sent a signal to other politicians, too – also to the communist leaders in Beijing (laughs again). It is better for a democracy when political and spiritual leadership are separate. So now at 76, I am at least half retired. So I am a bit more flexible in my time and energy.

 

Franz Alt

Do you think that your political successor, Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay, will maintain your “course of the middle way” towards China?

 

Dalai Lama

This is what he publicly confirmed right after his election. Middle way means: as regards foreign policy, Tibet remains with China, but gets more cultural and religious autonomy and more rights for an effective environmental policy. For Tibet, I imagine a solution similar to the one Italy has for South Tyrol: autonomy but no independence. I have been demanding this policy of the middle way for more than 20 years. 99 % of the Tibetans support me and also my successor in this endeavour.

 

Franz Alt

What do you think about the revolutions in Arab countries and about the youth revolts in western countries: is this also a chance for the democracy movement in China?

 

Dalai Lama

That’s hard to say. There is already a certain involvement of the people in China and there are also protest movements. But many things are yet to change on the way to democracy. The leaders in Beijing are very nervous about the riots in the whole world. They are very successful economically, but they are still afraid of change. They simply have a lack of self-confidence. They know very well that all authoritarian regimes will come to an end. Former USSR came to an end after 60 years. And the People’s Republic is just as old now. A glance at the Chinese national budget reveals the danger of the situation. Meanwhile, the communist government has to spend more money on internal security than on defence. That says it all. I always tell my Chinese friends that their government has to tell the people the truth. Honest change is based on truth.

 

Franz Alt

On a congress on mindfulness these days in Frankfurt you said that mindfulness is very important in Tibetan-Buddhist tradition. Why?

 

Dalai Lama

Without mindfulness we destroy our families, our economy but also the planet. We have to learn to pay more attention to the consequences of our actions. The Buddhist philosophy wants the transformation of our thinking. And feeling is always a part of thinking. With reason alone, we will not come to our senses. We have to learn to think and feel holistically.

 

Franz Alt

Is mindfulness important for politics and politicians as well?

 

Dalai Lama

Let’s take a look at George Bush, for example, whom I personally like and for whom I have utter respect. But his policies, especially his military and war policies, were an unmitigated disaster. As a consequence, there were hundreds of thousands of dead in Ira    q. The cause is a lack of holistic thinking. We need more politicians like Ghandi.

 

Franz Alt

Does this opinion also apply to Afghanistan?

 

Dalai Lama

Yes, of course! Political problems cannot be solved with weapons. Violence always means a lack of understanding and results from wrong thinking.

 

Franz Alt

What is the core of all religions?

 

Dalai Lama

the practice of love, sympathy and respect. Theories about this are not important – practice is crucial.

 

Franz Alt

In the last century, 200 million people were killed in wars. Do you see a chance that the 21st Century will be a century of peace?

 

Dalai Lama

The chances are much higher than in the past. We know more about each other. This is why journalistic work is so important. In the First and Second World War, people were even enthusiastic about war. And this is why they all joined in. This is impossible today. At least in Europe, almost nobody wants war. And nobody would get enthusiastic about it. Thank god – we have learned. We have become more mindful. Europe has become pacifistic. The German-French friendship is exemplary.

 

Franz Alt

What are the prerequisites for a century of peace?

 

Dalai Lama

Only the truth will set us free for a new era. So we have to be honest, truthful, open for the so-called strangers. We have to be able to forgive and love.

 

Franz Alt

What is the most important thing for the young generation in the future?

 

Dalai Lama

Again mindfulness. The young people of all countries and continents have to talk together. Without dialogue there will be no peace. In personal but also political respect. This is why I hope for a dialogue between us Tibetans and China in the future. The more young people get to know each other, the better are the chances for peace in the future. Many young Chinese want to have a good relationship with Tibet. China’s youth is my hope for the future. Moreover, the youth should not only pursue material interests but also intellectual and spiritual ones. Unfortunately, for adult generations, material interests outweigh nowadays. There are not enough models for the young people. But the worldwide youth riots reveal that the young generation is looking for new values. In general, they seem to criticise the system openly. This gives me hope, too. The young generation is looking for a concept for common efforts in a better world.

 

Franz Alt

You have been the youngest political refugee in the world. Do you see a chance to be able to return to Tibet one day?

 

Dalai Lama

If I die next week, I won’t see Tibet again. If I die in ten years’ time, maybe. And if I die in twenty years’ time, very likely.

 

Franz Alt

I wish you a long life. You once said that journalists should have a long nose. Why that?

 

Dalai Lama

That you, my dear friend, can poke your nose in everywhere. Journalists are the public’s eyes, ears and noses in a good democracy. Politicians’ and managers’ actions often differ from their words.  In order to reveal this inconsistency, we need good and curious journalists. This is the only way how a democracy can work. Only then, megalomania and lies can be stopped. You have to unveil everything, also the wrongdoings.

 

Franz Alt

A couple of months ago you said in an Indian newspaper: “the issue of Tibet is important. But the issues of environment and climate are more important.” Could you specify this statement?

 

Dalai Lama

in political respect, you can still wait a bit. Tibetans are patient and can wait ten more years. But the environmental and climate crisis are so dramatic that they can no longer wait for concrete action. Especially in Tibet, on the Roof of the World, we can feel the ecological crisis only too clearly. The climate change leads to a heavy glacier melt and thus to a dramatic water problem for more than a billion people in Asia. Nature cannot wait any longer. The ecological question is the central issue of the survival of mankind.

 

Franz Alt

Do you pray for the communist leaders in Beijing or are they your enemies?

 

Dalai Lama

Being a Buddhist, I do my best to practice my religion. All people are brothers and sisters. Of course, I also pray for my communist brothers and sisters and for the leaders in Beijing. As it was the case with Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: love of the enemy is important. Actually, I don’t have enemies. There are only people I haven’t got to know yet.

Source:

Franz Alt 2011

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Quotations

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

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