Toronto, Ontario: Responding to media queries on the Chinese government plans to replace Tibetan with Mandarin as the medium of instruction, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said “China is historically a Buddhist country and the preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist culture was also in the interest of the millions of Chinese who are looking for spiritual sustenance”.
During a half an hour meeting with the press in Toronto on Saturday, His Holiness talked about the “Tibetan language and how it has helped in promoting Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhist culture”.
His Holiness said “China may want to learn from the Indian experience where preservation and promotion of the linguistic diversity is being done without that being seen as a danger of separation”.
Another question about how His Holiness thought the Tibetan issue could be resolved given that the nine rounds of talks have not borne results and given the attitude of the Communist Chinese. His Holiness talked about the historical development of Tibetan-Chinese relationship in the past several centuries. He said relations have been good at time with even marital and spiritual ties being established while at times there has been negative development, with wars having been waged with Tibetans.
His Holiness recalled the former Panchen Lama having said in 1989, just before his sudden death, that if we compare the positive outcome of China’s policies in Tibet with that of the negative, the negative outweigh the positive.
His Holiness talked about his meetings with Chairman Mao and other Chinese leaders during his visit to Beijing in 1954-55 and how impressed he was with their idealism, like that of the Indian freedom fighters. He was very attracted by this that he even wanted to join the Chinese Communist Party. He said in terms of socio-economic theory he considered himself a Marxist, although not a Leninist or a Stalinist. However, subsequently power corrupted Mao and these leaders. Today, he said that the Party was becoming corrupted and on account of their weakness, the authorities have to indulge in censorship.
But the 1.3 billion Chinese have a right to know the reality and the 1.3 billion Chinese people have the capability to judge what is right and wrong, His Holiness said. He said that it is immoral for the Chinese government to censor their own people and that censorship and distorted information creates mistrust. China can indulge in censorship only within its borders and cannot do so in the outside world, including in Canada.
His Holiness said that he supported President Hu Jintao’s call for building a harmonious society, but said that this can come about only when there is trust. Censorship only brings about distrust and using force engenders fear, which are opposite of a harmonious society, he said.
Once China becomes open and a free society, the Tibetan issue can be solved, he said adding that this is because we were not seeking separation.
He said every Tibetan desire material development suggesting that Tibetans who come to Canada do so not because there is spirituality here but more because of the money. Tibetans, too, want to be happy, he added.
His Holiness said for many decades he had been trying to reach out to Chinese people but there was reluctance from their side. Following the Tiananmen development, it was much easier to get responses from the Chinese. He added that after the 2008 crisis in Tibet more and more Chinese have started paying attention to the Tibetan issue and he had been advising Tibetans to work towards the establishment of Chinese-Tibetan friendship groups to promote mutual understanding.
His Holiness said he was a Tibetan and had the name of the Dalai Lama. He added that the Tibetans in Tibet as well as outside have full trust in him and so it was his moral responsibility to resolve the Tibetan problem.
To a question on whether India had any role in the Tibetan dialogue process with China, His Holiness said that India’s moral support is always there. He talked about the historical and cultural relationship between India and Tibet quoting the late Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai who said the civilizations of Tibet and India were like two branches of the same Bodhi tree. Ecologically, millions of Indians depend on water from rivers that emerge in Tibet, he said as a way to show why India is concerned about developments in Tibet. However, on the negotiations with China, His Holiness said that it was our preference to have direct talks with the Chinese side and that India did not play a role there.
His Holiness talked about why he called himself a son of India. He said this was nothing to do with politics but was a reality based on India being the source of Tibetan spiritual heritage. He joked that if his brain was looked at it can be seen that the content are all knowledge propagated by the Indian Nalanda masters. Turning to a journalist who was of Indian origin, His Holiness pointed to his own body and said that it survived last 51 years from Indian dhal and Indian chapati.
In response to a question whether the Nobel Prize to Liu Xiaobo would help or hinder democracy in China, His Holiness said that, in the long run, there is no doubt the prize to a person dedicated to greater openness will encourage democracy in China. However, he said he doesn’t know how it would play in the short term. “We’ll have to see,” he said adding that it could also be that the Chinese Government may pose obstacles and become defiant. He said that voices in favor of democracy, the rule of law, liberalization and transparency are growing in China.
A journalist said he was asking a question sent by a reader. The reader wondered as to the reason behind His Holiness was constantly jolly. His Holiness responded that it was spontaneous and there was no particular reason. He joked that may be scientists could do some research on this. His Holiness said that there may be a genetic reason adding that all his brothers and sisters – except one brother who is stern – were jovial.
He also said it might come from cultural heritage and geography. He said Tibet was a vast land with a small population and human contact brings joy. He said unlike urban areas like Toronto and New York, which have too many people, in rural areas where the population is less people still have such a spirit.
His Holiness said he had constantly been advising people to have a realistic approach and so he should be practicing the same himself. He quoted the 8th century Indian master Shantideva about not having to worry if a problem has a solution and about there being no use of worrying of there was no solution. For certain things that are beyond our control, His Holiness said worry too much over them was a form of self-torture.
[Report filed by Bhuchung K Tsering]