Conflict & Justice

Dalai Lama book interview

PI says the Dalai Lama's response to the Chinese crackdown in Tibet is motivated by his religion: deeply sympathetic for the people in Tibet, even more than any political leader, but still convinced that any violence will only bring more hardships for the people in Tibet. (If the Dalai Lama has been the head of this movement for so long, what has he accomplished in his time?) He's open to all sorts of policies and some people have said he's made no visible headway. But he's looking in the long term, including that Tibet and China are neighbors. He understands the human frustrations and impatience of the Tibetans. His answer is that we must stick by our values. (What are those values?) Inter-dependence, also the sense that a situation can be changed by perspective. (He's not calling for an independent Tibet?) No, just an autonomous one. (So the exiles are taking it a step further?) Yes, and he thinks independence is unrealistic and impractical. (Would life for Tibetans be different if they had independence and not just autonomy?) He points out some of the good things that China has done for Tibet: material and economic gains. He also doesn't want Tibet to be cut off from the world. (What are your experiences with the Dalai Lama?) My father met him when he first went into exile and I met him when I was 17, or 33 years ago. I was an apathetic teenager at the time. (Does he see himself as a religious or political figure?) He would not make a distinction. Although he's regarded as a god in the Tibetan religion, he would be the first to say he's human. He doesn't cultivate these attitudes. The Chinese call him the devil, others call him a god, he calls himself a human. (People in the West are enamored with the cause and Buddhism, but he doesn't evangelize.) No, if anything he does the opposite�he says one should work within their own tradition for change. (What's that about?) He's worried people jump on the bandwagon before they understand what it means. He would rather people stick to what they know and make changes within their own tradition.

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