Mumbai: Who else than His Holiness the Dalai Lama can express hope from China, a country that loses no opportunity to call His Holiness a traitor. This is what the Tibetan leader did in his discourse on “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Thoughts” among 500 students of the Mumbai University at the Gothic Cowasjee Jehangir Convocation Hall in Mumbai on Friday.
“To countless Tibetans, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and a head of state in absentia. But to people around the world, Tenzin Gyatso is not only the greatest and most public advocate for Tibetan rights and the virtues of Tibetan Buddhism, but for interfaith tolerance and peace as well”, wrote TIME Magazine for the 14th Dalai Lama when it chose him one of the Top 25 Political Icons.
True to his reputation the Dalai Lama has been very much successful in doing justice to his political and religious role. Not only this, the global icon has also constantly reinvented himself as a votary of new challenges. On Friday, as sun rays streamed in through the stained glass panels, His Holiness expressed his views on Tibet, China, India and yes global warming and the recent developments in Egypt and Tunisia.
On China and Tibet
“In China, it is the same one party system, the same totalitarian regime but compare it to 30 years ago, there has been a lot of change. These are signs of change, the world is changing,” said the Dalai Lama. He expressed hope for a solution to the Tibetan problem as the attitude of Chinese people has been changing over the years. He cited example of Europe where Germany and France who had been enemies during the world wars were working in unity in the European Union.
Talking about the changed nature of Communist China he said, “Now in China, genuine socialism is no longer there; a communist party without communist ideology. Capitalist communism: this is new. I heard that the life of some Indian communists and a few leaders of the Indian communist party is more bourgeois than socialist.”
About Tibet the Dalai Lama said, “Yes, I will see a free Tibet in my lifetime. I am confident about that. More and more Chinese are supporting the Tibetan cause than ever before,” the Dalai Lama said in an interaction with TOI. With more and more Chinese championing the cause of Tibetans, the movement will usher in the final chapter of the land’s long struggle that will end soon, he said. “And so, it is my belief that it will not be a loss for one and triumph for another. It will be a victory for all.” He even joked about a changed China: “I told the Chinese authorities that I want to join Chinese Communist Party.”
On India, Gandhi and Morality
Describing himself as a chela of Indian tradition the Dalai Lama said it didn’t need to look out for answers. “Indian civilization, when compared to the western and Chinese civilizations, is much more sophisticated. It is the world’s treasure. I describe Indians as the guru, we (Tibetans) are chelas of Indian guru,” he said. “Essentially we learn from you.”
But as an honest friend, the Dalai Lama said, it was essential get rid of evils. “Caste, dowry, discrimination, these may be a part of your tradition but they are outdated, and must change. The youth must change some of these. From your chela, this is constructive criticism. Sometimes, you are a little bit lazy. You must be more hard-working; work with full self-confidence.”
Dalai Lama spoke highly of India, saying the concept of non-violence or ‘ahimsa’ was an ancient Indian philosophy. He insisted that it is important to club the ancient India culture with the new conception and views. ‘The realistic approach will help here,’ he said. He also said that the real change in India needs to happen in its rural areas, in its old villages.
Appreciating Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence, the Dalai Lama said it has been appreciated and accepted all over the world by leaders like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
“Non-violence and religious harmony are the two treasures of India. I feel people should learn religious harmony and non-violence from India. The country is a role model for others for non-violence and religious harmony,” he said.
‘India needs to spread such sacred ideologies to the entire world for good. And universities are the places where this spreading of thoughts can be started. Educationists should take a lead while involving students with these thoughtful ideologies of the ancient India leaders,’ he said.
Modern education system does not pay attention to wholeheartedness. Teaching ethics without touching the religious space is important. Life based on material wealth with no roots in affection is a delusion.
Technology provides physical comfort and spiritual development mental comfort.
Expressing concern over global warming, the spiritual leader said, “Global warming poses a real danger to mankind and could become a reason for flooding and mud slides across Asia”.
On recent developments in Middle East
“Violence has unpredictable costs and is an unrealistic method. The former US president George Bush — I love him, he is a very nice person, but his policy of war in Iraq and Afghanistan was not good. Always good to bring in democracy but the methodology is not good,” he said.
He said recent popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia followed the tradition of non-violent protest practiced during British rule by Mahatma Gandhi, India’s father of the nation.
“Many years ago, from the Philippines up to Chile, popular peaceful movement really brought a lot of change,” he said. “Now the same thing has happened in Egypt and Tunisia without a single shot from the demonstrators. So, things are changing. They are following the principle of non-violence.”
“We should not consider non-violence as a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength,” said the Dalai Lama. “The 20th century became a century of bloodshed… If that immense violence, including the use of nuclear weapons, had brought some kind of peace to the world, maybe there would have been some sort of justification,” he added.
People proudly joined when the World Wars broke out. That situation has changed. Today, the desire for peace is very strong. Before the Iraq crisis, think of how many people came out against using force. It’s a sign of change: non-violence.
“The 21st century should be the century of dialogue… in order to create a more peaceful society.”