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Lions Roar : May 2010
59 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 manence. “This present situation has to change. Change will not come from the sky. We, as individuals, must make some effort, no matter one simple, insignificant case. one person leads, ten people join, a thousand people join, then the media...” I hear, as I listen, the vision of incremental, soul-by-soul change he’d outlined to me the day after he’d been awarded the nobel Prize. he really wondered if his efforts were enough, he’d told me on the very day when others were celebrating what they hoped would mark a new future for Tibet. But all one could do was try one’s best, and know that the effort might reach to oth- ers, and then still others, and then more. Two days before Fu- kuoka, speaking to more than 300 journalists crammed into Tokyo’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, he’d suddenly offered, “Blessings come from yourself,” in telling the story of a wealthy Indian family who had come to him to ask for his blessing. your wealth is itself a blessing, he’d told them; don’t ask me to give you anything. The kind acts you do, the way you share the blessing of your money, is what generates blessings for you. and don’t just give it out, but use it wisely and practically, for education, hospitals, clinics. The DaLaI LaMa: First, there’s a gap: the rich and poor. This is very serious on both a national and global level. even in the united states there are still pockets of very poor people while the lifestyle of the richer people is luxurious. That is not only mor- ally wrong but a source of problems. The poorer people always feel frustration. The frustration transforms into anger. anger transforms into violence. We have to think seriously about how to reduce this. I think the immediate possibility for the poor is to get them skills through education, and most important, give them self-confidence. The reality of our planet now is that every nation is interde- pendent, interconnected. so, the concept of “we” and” they” is no longer valid. The entire world should be part of “we.” one’s own future entirely depends on the rest of the world. yes, the united states is the biggest nation, the most powerful eco- nomically, but your future depends on the rest of the world. That’s the reality. so treat others as a part of yourself. We need a concept of oneness, of humanity. We need a sense of global responsibility. Mary roBInson: I’m very pleased about a new kind of wom- en’s leadership that is connecting women who have access to power and influence with women who are suffering in poverty in places like Darfur and Chad. This is exactly what you’ve rec- ommended—developing connection, empathy, and compassion, and using leadership to change people’s lives. The DaLaI LaMa: The time has come to emphasize the im- portance of loving-kindness, affection, compassion, and whole- heartedness, rather than simply education. I think, generally speaking, women have more potential for this. so women should take a more active role. I truly feel that we might be safer if more women were the leaders of this planet. PICo Iyer: your holiness, when you arrived in India in 1959 af- ter the Chinese invasion, knowing you had to reconstruct Tibet- an culture in exile, what were your priorities and inspirations? The DaLaI LaMa: When the 1959 crisis happened in Tibet, I did my best to cool down the situation, but I failed. once in exile, the immediate task was to look after the several thousand Tibetan refugees who had followed me. Then the longer-term challenge was to preserve Tibetan culture, and at the same time to promote modern education among our people. at that time, our slogan was “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” We hoped that within one or two years we would be able to return to Tibet or find some other solution. now, fifty years later, I still don’t know how long it will take. But we had always prepared for that possibility, and when I look back, all our major decisions seem correct. When we planned our struggle, we planned for the worst. We knew it could take generations, so we planned accordingly. I think we have one of the most successful refugee communities. The preservation of our culture and heritage has been quite success- ful. Today, many people come to India from Tibet to get Buddhist teachings and modern education. We feel quite proud of that. Mary roBInson: I don’t think I’ve ever told your holiness how difficult it was when I was invited by China to visit on the fiftieth anniversary of the universal Declaration of human rights, in 1998. I was u.n. high commissioner for human rights at the time and I told them that if I went, I wanted to go to Tibet. They said no, but after many discussions I got permission. It was an extraordinarily special visit for me. one thing I recall vividly was going to a school in Lhasa. I had little copies of the uni- versal Declaration in the Tibetan language, and we gave them to the teachers. They had never heard of the universal Declaration of hu- man rights, and I was very happy to give them out so the teachers could use them. one of my human rights officers whispered to me that this was probably against Chinese law. But I was the high com- missioner for human rights, so I said that I didn’t mind. (Laughter) I went back to China on a number of occasions. although I never was able to get back to Tibet, it was always an issue I raised with the Chinese government. It’s unacceptable that the human rights situation in Tibet has been continuing and has not been effectively addressed. It’s heartbreaking from a human rights point of view. ♦ ➢ page 95 PhoToByDonFarBer