Emory Report
October 29, 2007
Volume 60, Number 9

Emory Report homepage  

October 29, 2007
Q&A: ‘We want, not independence, just genuine autonomy from China’

Q: Your role as Dalai Lama has been very unique from all previous Dalai Lamas in its political nature. How do you see the role of the Dalai Lama evolving in future generations?
Future generations? Nobody knows. [laughs] As early as 1969, I publicly made statement to whether the very institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not for the Tibetan people. Some people, you see, get the impression that the Dalai Lama institution is so important for Tibetan nation or Tibetan Buddhism. It is wrong. Some occasions the Dalai Lama institution very strong. Some occasions, the Dalai Lama institution, it has ceased. But Tibetan spirituality, Buddhism, Tibetan nation will remain. So for my own case, ’til my death, I am fully committed to promotion of human value and promotion of religious harmony. After me, after my death, my responsibility now finished. [laughter] So as a Buddhist, I believe, you see, the next sort of rebirth. I don’t know where rebirth comes, whether this planet, or some other planet more peaceful. More happier.

Q: At some point during the struggles for Tibetan independence you used violence try to achieve your political goals. Looking back, how do you view that portion of the struggle, the use of violence?
Violence bring more suffering, more destruction …
It was our goal, we want, not independence, just genuine autonomy from China. That was our only interest in war, to advance the spirituality of Tibet, and fill our stomach. And Tibet monks cannot live in cave. So we need good shelter, we need sort of material facility and easier communication for this certainly, we want modernized Tibet. For that reason, people from China, we get greater benefit from material aspect. In meantime, we should have a meaningful autonomy so that our unique cultural heritage and rich Buddhist traditions and delicate environment can be protected effectively.

Q: In your life, what single moment has brought you the greatest happiness?
Several occasions. I remember greatest happiness is next day of my escape from Lhasa... I left disguised as a soldier. The more I walked, the rifle became heavier, heavier, heavier. [laughs] So, that night, really full of fear. Because on the road, the other side of the river, just over there, was a Chinese military garrison. So although it was completely dark, we were not using flashlights, still the hooves, the horses still made noise. So, if they notice, very easily we would be shot. So next morning, next day, when we passed one hill, one mountain, we felt safe. Real liberation! Chinese called that the day there was liberation brought to Tibet. But that day, brought more tight control. So the whole liberation from the tight control is the real liberation of freedom.

Q: At the Mind and Life Conference we learned how depression can be treated through meditation. Do Tibetan monks ever experience depression, and how do they deal with it?
Yes ... Basically, they practice compassion … they cultivate view of wider picture. If one has a problem to face, if you look at that problem, only visit that problem, focus, localize and you may get more frustration. Seeing that problem, looking at that problem, meantime look from wider perspective, then that problem not much significance … So, the holistic view, holistic attitude, is the only way to know the reality.