A common space for harmonic peacemakers
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama turned 75 years old yesterday. The Nobel Peace Prize winner addressed a crowd of thousands gathered to celebrate the occasion at a temple in the Indian Himalayas where he as lived since fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959. At a recent event in New York, Amy Goodman asked him his thoughts on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the status of Tibet. We also speak with Dr. Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University and president of Tibet House US.[
AMY GOODMAN: The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, turned 75 years old yesterday. The Nobel Peace Prize winner addressed a crowd of thousands gathered to celebrate the occasion at a temple in the Himalayas where he has lived since fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959. The Dalai Lama expressed regret that his followers in Tibet would be unable to pay tribute for fear of reprisal. In a few minutes we’ll be joined by Dr. Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and President of Tibet House US.
But first we turn to Dalai Lama in his own words. In May, he held a series of public lectures here in New York. Thousands gathered at Radio City Music Hall to hear his teachings. On the last day, he spoke at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine before a crowd of 2000 people. He was joined by Eboo Patel, the founder of the Interfaith Youth Corps, and Sakena Yacoobi, the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning. I attended the talk and had a chance to ask the Dalai Lama a question.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask Your Holiness two questions. One is you’ve come to a country that has been engaged in war on two fronts for almost a decade now, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. I wanted to ask if you feel there is another way? And my second question is, are you still pursuing a path to independence for Tibet, or have you given up on that?
DALAI LAMA: Now, I can sense violence already has been implemented, so that also creates a new reality, so I don’t know. I don’t know. But at the beginning, I feel there was possibility to avoid that. That is, just before the Iraq crisis happened. Some people asked me I should go to Baghdad and do something. That is unrealistic, but, I felt at that time, including some Nobel Laureates and some respected and trusted people, who no ones represent, just good human beings, and morally speaking, can be representative of humanity. Otherwise, you see, even a United Nations representative, you cannot develop trust, the other side. So these things are very much based on trust.
So someone who [is] really well known, honest person, and, as a group, go to Baghdad and meet Saddam Hussein and tell him the sort of serious danger of war, unavoidable. Then I don’t think – Saddam Hussein was not such a foolish person-–war with America he can’t win, I don’t think. So, whether he loves peace or not he’s also in a position of survival. So,—still I feel at that time may be one possibility if some people go there and tell him the reality, and the danger and consequences. That I feel. Now I don’t know.
The second part?
DALAI LAMA: According to international jurists, comission or something-–1959— two reports. One report is human rights violation and one report is about the status at that time. They mentioned 1950 the Chinese Army and Tibet. At that time Tibet was defacto independent nation. However, we after came to India, actually in 1951, Seventeen Point Agreement site. So at that time, Chinese leaders and wise leaders, like Chairman Mao, [UNINTELLIGIBLE] all of these people, choose peaceful deliberation rather than just to send army. So Liberation Army already reached [UNINTELLIGIBLE] under Tibetan government jurisdiction some portion of the east part already reached Chinese military forces. About 8,000 Tibetan soldier eliminated. So then the Liberation Army can go up to Lhasa very easily, but Chinese leaders prefer stop there and liberation of Tibet through peaceful means, so that they pursue liberation of Tibet through agreement. So Seventeen Point Agreement signed, 1951. 1951, May, signed that. But then initially, they respect that agreement.
Then around the mid-50s, they said they don’t care about that agreement. So things have been a little more difficult. Then the uprising started since ’56. So in anyway, after '59, we came to India. Next, I think almost two decades we are very busy about rehabilitation, resettlement and education. As you mentioned, right from the beginning, we become refugee, we made every effort for education for Tibetan children. The government of India helped immense, Pandit Nehru [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. So then around ‘73, ‘74, we finalized, sooner or later we have to talk with some Chinese government. So, question of independence is out of the question. So we have to work to the point which we can mutually agree, usually called the Middle-Way Approach, that is not seeking independence, but the present sort of system, the present condition is that Tibetan actually has no authority. So, education in many fields, they're ultimately controlled by Han Chinese who have no idea about Tibetan culture, about Tibetan spirituality.
And the worst thing, about more than 10 years ago, one party secretary at one party meeting, he actually mentioned the source of the threat of Tibet being separate, from mainland China, is Tibetan Buddhism. So from then, in education field, he changed many things. All the books in education in school changed. All of those book which is refer to some Tibetan—classical texts were banned, only textbook translated from Chinese. In the meantime, in monasteries –- I think this is not relevant. [LAUGHTER] So, anyway, since ‘74, we are not seeking independence. We are trying to find a mutually-agreeable solution.
Love and Peace for all Beings.