His Holiness meets Tibetans in Madison; tells youths to study Tibetan language and religion

 His Holiness meets with members of the Tibetan community of Madison and surrounding areas on 16 May 2010.
His Holiness meets with members of the Tibetan community of Madison and surrounding areas on 16 May 2010.

Madison: His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Sunday met with the Tibetan communities based in Madison, Minnesota and Chicago at Monona Terrace Community in Madison. Over one thousand Tibetans had gathered for the audience with His Holiness.

The programme began with the singing of the Tibetan national anthem and a song in praise of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by children from the Wisconsin Tibetan Association. In between the President of the Association, Jampa Yonten, presented a written report of their activities to His Holiness.

His Holiness began his address first by recognising two students from the Madison area, who were listed in the Association’s report, for their achievements. The first one was Tenzin Sonam, who along with three other students from Madison West High School won the first place in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (according to a news report the team’s model rocket reached 749 feet in 41 seconds and 740 feet in 44 seconds in two launches for the victory.). The other was Tenzin Yiga, who is among the topper in the examinations in Dane County in Wisconsin.

In his address, His Holiness talked about the importance of the Tibetan identity. Terming Tibetans as “Gangchenpa” (denizens of the Land of Snows), His Holiness said that in general we enjoy a good reputation throughout the world for our good character. He said he even heard from Chinese scholars who felt that the Tibetan values could contribute much to the development of the Chinese society, too. However, he said there were indications that unless everyone remained alert this character could face degeneration. His Holiness reminded the gathering that at a time when Tibetans in Tibet were making efforts to preserve this identity under great challenge, the Tibetans in the free world should feel their responsibility equally.

His Holiness told the younger generation of Tibetans the importance of being educated about their language and religion. He said the youngsters could initially study about Buddhism in the English language. Also, there could be discussion sessions on Buddhist topics in a non-ritualistic format.

Talking about developments in China, His Holiness felt that things will eventually change in terms of the authoritarian system that is prevalent today. He said it is encouraging that an increasing number of Chinese scholars are concerned about the Tibetan issue. He talked about the over 900 articles in Chinese that have appeared since 2008 that have positively commented on the Tibetans. His Holiness said ultimately the Tibetan problem has to be solved between Tibetans and Chinese and therefore said it is important to reach out to the Chinese people.

His Holiness talked about the dialogue process with the Chinese leadership. He said even though the Chinese side had only chastisement in response to the initiatives through his envoys, his commitment to a Middle Way Approach was on account of a broader consideration. His Holiness said this approach was based on a win-win situation rather than one side winning with the other side losing.

His Holiness reiterated what he had said in Strasbourg that the Tibetan people themselves, particularly the majority of Tibetans living in Tibet, must be the ultimate deciding authority.

His Holiness advised the Tibetan people to maintain peace of mind and friendship. He said that Association should strive to come to the aid of anyone needing assistance. He also advised the younger Tibetans to pay particular attention to their studies. He said they should work to undertake specialised studies.

As he prepared to depart, His Holiness told the Tibetans that he had his annual medical check up at Mayo Clinic yesterday and the doctors had told him that he was in excellent health. The conference hall was filled with a resounding applause as His Holiness told them about his health condition. His Holiness then joked that while his overall physical health was excellent, he had some slight irritation in his eyes.

–Report filed by Bhuchung K Tsering of ICT