News and Views on Tibet

Tibetan Language no tool for “seperatism” but a lifeline for Tibetan identity: Dalai Lama

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By Kalsang Rinchen

WASHINGTON DC, March 8: The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama said that the Chinese leaders with a thought that having a distinct language is an indicator of separatism are too narrow minded. He said the Chinese government clearly recognizes the Tibetan issue as an issue requiring a solution but that the repressive method it employs to solve it was not correct. “The Chinese hardliners think that the Tibetans have a separate language and therefore more chances of separatism. So imposes restriction on Tibetan language. It is too narrow minded thinking,” he said here Friday afternoon, taking out time for a quick meeting with Tibetans from his scheduled event on the last day of his US tour.

Around a thousand Tibetans from the Capital Area, Virginia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey packed an auditorium of the National Institute of Health where the Tibetan leader was to participate in a dialogue titled “The role of science in human flourishing”.

He said the Tibetans’ being in exile is not due to any natural calamity like earthquake but “a visit from an uninvited guest who stayed against the host’s wishes and gradually tightened its hold.”

He said the Tibetan language is the lifeline for the Tibetans, while expressing his appreciation for the sense of love for the Tibetan language and culture by Tibetans in Tibet and their sense of the Tibetan identity. The Tibetan language and culture has played a very vital role in the cohesiveness of the Tibetan community despite the political situation of the Tibetans, he said.

He said it is wrong to think that the issue of Tibet will be resolved with outside help from the UN or US, adding that dialogue with China can solve the issue of Tibet. “I remember him (Nehru) telling me that the only way to resolve the issue was to talk with China and not by seeking support from outside including the UN,” the 78 year old Nobel Laureate said recalling a conversation he had with the late Indian PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956 and 1959.

The Dalai Lama said he was very much fascinated by the spirit of the Jews to work hard and be of benefit to their own society and community. He jokingly suggested that the Tibetans steal the Jews’ secret password to success. “Don’t just earn money for the livelihood of your family and yourself. Try to earn and save with will to help others,” said the Tibetan leader. He said that it would be very good if Tibetans in exile can initiate projects to help Tibetans in Tibet.

The Tibetan leader said Tibetans should take pride in the Tibetan Buddhism, based on the Nalanda tradition, which he described as the only religion today that can explain with reasons various scientific concepts in the study of human mind.

He said he generally categorizes the Tibetan Buddhism into three aspects namely the scientific aspect, principle aspect and religious practice. He said the scientific aspect could be studied by anyone, even Non Buddhists and non-believers. The practice aspect has to be followed by the Tibetan Buddhists themselves. “You need not perceive the Tibetan Buddhism as a mere religion. You can study it as an academic subject without being obliged to follow it as a religious practice.”

The Tibetan leader said it is foolish to say money is not important. “Do we have any millionaires here?” he asked. “If you can’t become a multi millionaire, at least become a small millionaire,” the Tibetan leader remarked, sending a packed auditorium of National Health Institute into a rapturous laughter, adding that those living abroad should help the poor and needy.

He recalled a Chinese follower of Tibetan Buddhism who had been asked by his Tibetan Lama to submit monetary offerings in exchange for a ride to enlightenment. He also teasingly told a few senior monks seated in the front that they should not dupe followers by becoming “fake Tibetan Lamas” in the west. “I heard that there are several Tibetan fake lamas these days in Chengdu. That’s not good,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Tibetan leader spoke on “Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World” at the National Cathedral as members of the “International Shugden Community and Tibetans who had travelled from New York and New Jersey engaged in a noisy war of words outside the venue. Exchange of slogans across the two sides separated by police barricades gave a feel of anti China protest if not for the slogans chanted by the two sides. “Dalai Lama, give religious freedom”, chanted the side protesting the Tibetan leader among which some Tibetans could also be seen.

“Long live the Dalai Lama,” replied the Tibetans from the opposite side as men and women in traditional Tibetan opera costumes danced to Tibetan opera beats of drum and cymbal. The Tibetan exiles fear that the issue is being used by China to divide the Tibetans and create disharmony among them. They allege that such protests are being assisted by China to deliberately bring disrepute to the Tibetan leader whom it reviles as a “monk in wolf’s robes”. However, the Tibetan leader says he could not care less about being called by such names.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan leader’s talk inside the National Cathedral was briefly interrupted by a member in the audience, who asked the Tibetan leader about Dorje Shugden. The Tibetan leader said he was himself a follower of the “spirit” out of ignorance. He said he quit the worship after examining and researching it himself. He said that it was his responsibility as a leader of Tibetan Buddhism to advice his followers about it. “How they choose to act on the basis of that knowledge is up to them,” he said. “At one time, I used to worship it. I was like one of them,” he said pointing towards the protesters outside.

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