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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
The Dalai Lama and His Nobel Peace Prize money
When he received his Nobel Prize for Peace, he divided it among different causes:he gave a large sum to Mother Teresa to treat lepers; he sent huge funding to Africa to feed the hungry; and he even gave money to the University for Peace, in Costa Rica. Also, the Tibetan administration received some part of it after some American friends told him, "You should keep some of it for the Tibetan cause." He always, always, thinks of others. When he was asked how he was going to use his Nobel Prize, he said, "Tibetans are poor - the Tibetans are refugees - but they are not dying of hunger; i want to feed the hungry and send my money to Africa to feed the hungry."
From "His Holiness the Dalai Lama: The Oral Biography"
President of The Tibet Fund
On the record: 'I am probably going to meet Bush in November,
I may use that with him- Buddhism and Bushism'
The Indian Express - Op-Ed
October 25, 2005
Spiritual figure, political leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dalai
Lama is a beloved personality to millions of people in his native Tibet, in
South Asia, and the world over. The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar
Gupta talks to His Holiness on NDTV 24x7's Walk the Talk programme, over the
course of two hours. This is the first part of their long conversation
Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader
.. No Indian town of its size is as famous as Dharamshala and that's only
because of my guest this week, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Not only is
he the face and spirit of the Tibetan cause around the world, but, in an age
when so many are looking for spiritual guidance, he stands out as one of the
most prominent and proficient providers of spiritual solace to people around
the world. Welcome to Walk the Talk, Your Holiness, it's a privilege to have
.. This has been your home for 45 years. People call it your home in exile.
So what does Dharamshala mean to you?
Actually, we spent our first year in Mussoorie, and then came to
Dharamshala. Initially, we felt Dharamshala to be more isolated,
particularly from Delhi (laughs). At that time, electricity and other
facilities were quite poor. So, it was not very comfortable in the
beginning, but eventually we found the open space very useful for our
Children's Village and other establishments. The only thing that brings us a
little anxiety is earthquakes (laughs) otherwise, there's a beautiful
scenery and the local people are very peaceful.
.. But you've had tremors and anxieties in your own life.
Of course, it's like on a long flight, if there's turbulence, you feel the
water coming up in your hands (laughs).
.. So, the Dalai Lama has the fear of flying? I thought ordinary mortals had
that problem. What do you when the plane shakes? Do you pray?
It's a matter of karma. If I have made the sort of karma that brings my
plane down, it will happen.
.. But, for someone like me who's a nervous flier, if I knew the Dalai Lama
was on my flight, I would worry less. I would hope the Dalai Lama's karma
would take us all to safety.
But my karma failed to protect Tibet (smiles).
.. Well, not quite. You're not counting it as a lost cause, yet.
.. And sometimes as you say and as is believed in your faith, it may take
many lives; the karma of one life may not be enough.
True. And like Tibet, other events like the tsunami or the recent
earthquake, these are not due to individual karma but come from the common
karma of the community.
.. But that's odd. Isn't it why should God punish so many for the karma of
some? Why this mass punishment?
I think there is a different answer for that, according to different
concepts. There are the theistic traditions, whose central faith is in a
creator or God. Then there is Buddhism, there is Jainism and the other
ancient Indian traditions which see everything as happening according to
karma, the law of causality.
.. But still, Your Holiness, something like the tsunami or the earthquake or
the flooding in New Orleans, you say that it comes from the karma of a
community, but a lot of innocents get punished. Is that fair?
Well, you see, again according to ancient Indian thought, we have the
concept of rebirth, several lives. So, an event we face can come from karma
not necessarily created in this life, but in a previous one. A person can
look innocent, but he suffers due to his past karma. That, you see, is the
Buddhist explanation, and is so in Jainism as well.
.. And it may be a coincidence that a lot of them were there, exposed to the
That's right: it's the same kind of karma that has been created. Also, it is
not necessary that people who experience suffering at the same time, in the
same area, have created that karma there. They may have done so in different
places, even on another planet. But it was the same kind of karma, the same
amount of positive or negative karma. So, at another occasion, all these
people then suffer, all these sentient beings born at the same time.
.. Your Holiness, one of the things your aides warned me about was how people
ask you the same questions too many times and sometimes you get bored. You've
been asked many times about reincarnation and rebirth. So, I won't bore you
by asking about that. But let me ask you about your two homes: Dharamshala
and Tibet. I was reading Pico Iyer, and he describes how you told him that
the saddest day of your life was the day you left Tibet.
It was the 17th of March, 1959. I decided to leave the very day I left,
around noon. It was the final decision, there was no alternative except
escape. I left at exactly 10 pm that night. I wore ordinary Tibetan dress
and carried a gun!
.. Like a soldier. Was that the only time you carried a weapon?
(laughs) Yes. I was supposed to look like the people who used to guard the
Norbulingka Palace, the bodyguards. I followed them; I wasn't wearing my
glasses - I wore them even at that time - and all the time the gun was
becoming heavier and heavier.
.. So the only time the Dalai Lama carried a gun was to escape, not to fight?
(laughs) That's right. Outside, beyond the outer wall, there was a river, a
small river but it had a lot of stones and I was without my glasses. So
there I was, stumbling across (laughs). But anyway, the saddest thing was
parting from people I had to leave behind; they were from my entourage,
mainly monks and also sweepers. They were my playmates and I considered them
very close friends. Most of them stayed behind; that parting was terrible.
We may never meet again.
.. And that pain remains?
Oh yes! And then there was my small dog. But the fortunate thing is, that
dog was not very friendly to me as I was sometimes strict with him. I took
disciplinary action (both laugh).
.. You have great love for animals. I see a lot of cats here. You've talked
of how animals are capable of kindness and love, and you've said somewhere
that kindness is superior to faith.
I think animals demonstrate that most clearly. They have no faith, but if
you treat them very sincerely, without trickery, if you're giving them food
because you want to catch them, oh, they know. But if you are sincere, if
you show them genuine friendship, they really respond. Except for some small
animals, like insects, I really wonder whether mosquitoes have that
capacity. When they are not the malaria-carrying kind, I sometimes give them
.. You let them bite you?
If I am in a good mood. If I'm not in a good mood...
.. Then no mosquito will dare come near to wag its tail at you (both laugh).
If I give them my blood peacefully, they just sit. I don't know if they have
the capacity for appreciation or closeness. But, otherwise, most animals
.. I'm fascinated by this distinction you make between kindness and belief,
and how you make kindness the more important.
I think the main purpose of all the major religions is to promote, to
strengthen, these humane values, which we all have from birth. Kindness,
compassion, the sense of caring, the sense of concern, of community, of
responsibility. We all have the potential for these things, right from
.. And to also control what is not good, what in the Sanskrit tradition are
called kaam, krodh, moh, lobh - passion, anger, attachment, greed.
I think these emotions - attachment, hatred, fear, arrogance - they also
have their own purpose. For example, one feels attachment so that one may
have all the facilities for a happier life - friendship, wealth, fame. We
suppose that attachment will bring all these positive things to us. Anger,
hatred: they are meant to expel all the factors which are causing us harm
.. Like a detoxification process?
But where we are misled, is that all these emotions are mixed essentially
with ignorance. Attachment or anger seem to help you, but because that view
is unrealistic. I met recently with a scientist who works with the mind.
.. A cognitive scientist?
Yes. He told me that 90 per cent of anger, of hatred, is actually
exaggerated. When you see something negative, you develop anger and hatred
towards it, but 90 per cent of that negativity is a mental projection. It is
not reality. The Buddhist explanation also works on the same concept. When
we carry that emotion into verbal or physical action it becomes even more
unrealistic. Instead of solving the problem, we sometimes create more of it.
On the other hand, there is the sense of compassion. But genuine compassion,
not mixed with ignorance, the sense of concern without attachment. When you
approach action from these positive emotions, your action becomes more
.. To get rid of ignorance, do you need a spiritual teacher, a guru?
No. It's not necessary. Study. Use your brain. Investigation, experiment,
these are very important. Our education, from kindergarten up to university,
is supposed to reveal reality in different fields. Usually, between
appearances and reality, there is a gap. Our education is supposed to reduce
.. And that's the difference between an enlightened person and an
Oh yes. I mean, there are big differences between, say, an educated person
and an uneducated person. Both want a happy, a successful, life, but their
approach is different. Even within a person, at a younger age, when he has
less experience, less knowledge, he has a different approach than he does
later, when he has more education, more awareness, more experience.
Education is the key.
.. Your Holiness, I was reading an interview of yours from which I am going
to steal a question; it was a very good one. The interviewer talked about
how you keep saying that this century is better, more benevolent, less
violent than the previous one. She then asked you how, if that is so, can
one explain Iraq or 9/11 to one's children? Your answer was that one needs
compassion all the time and you took the example again of a dog. If a dog
attacks you and is going to bite, you can't say "non-violence, non-violence".
You have to take the appropriate action, or counter-action.
.. And that may not be non-violent.
I think in the deeper sense, the meaning of non-violence does not entirely
depend on physical or verbal action, but on your motivation. Any action
carried by a sense of concern or compassion, no matter what its appearance,
even if it looks harsh, is essentially non-violent. On the other hand, let's
say, I want to cheat you. I smile, I use nice words, even bring you a nice
gift. It looks non-violent, but that's superficial, because the main
motivation is that I want to cheat, I want to take advantage of you. That is
the worst kind of violence. Without anger you cannot expel negativity, but,
I think, anger through awareness is more appropriate, more effective,
because then there is no exaggeration. You need that force to expel
negativity, but you also see reality.
.. Your Holiness, you also use the example of a man coming to shoot you. You
say one has to do something, but instead of shooting him in the head, maybe,
one could shoot him in the leg.
Shooting in the head means killing.
.. But shooting in the hand or leg is self-protection?
That's right. Also, if that person is alive, then perhaps you may tease him
a little about it later (both laugh).
.. If he's willing to be teased. Now tell me, Your Holiness, if you apply
this example after 9/11, what is it that Bush's America is doing to the
Islamic world or to Iraq? Is it shooting it in the head, or in the foot?
(laughs) I think the best thing is not shooting. Now, again, in these
events, I feel they are due to a lack of knowledge or awareness on both
sides. Neither knows fully about the other. So, sometimes, miscalculations
happen. Awareness is very, very important. For example, take our own case.
Tibet was very isolated in the past. Due to a lack of knowledge about the
other's values, your own attitude towards the other is sometimes a bit
negative. In recent years, some media people and even writers have created
the impression that there is conflict between the western world and Islamic
civilisation. I think that is mainly due to a lack of contact, a lack of
.. The clash of civilisations?
I think that is a very unhealthy impression. A few mischievous people who
come from the Muslim world cannot represent Muslims as a whole. There are
many good persons among the Muslims, and Islam is a very important world
.. Is that the feeling you get when you talk to Muslim scholars - that what
is being projected today is not the true face of Islam?
That's right. I have some Muslim friends. They have told me that any person
who claims to be a Muslim and actually creates bloodshed and harm for others
is not a true Muslim. That's what they say.
.. Your Holiness, would you then say that the American invasion of Iraq was
driven by ignorance and the fear which comes from ignorance?
I think so. I would prefer if those nations chose to develop closer
relations, specially in the field of education. If people had more
education, more awareness of other's values, I think their attitude would
.. So you think it's a mistake for the US to be in Iraq, the way they are?
I usually have the view that violent action is in principle wrong, it's a
mistake. However, in the 20th century, with the Second World War, for
instance, or the Korean War, there was immense violence, suffering,
destruction. But eventually something positive came out of it. But, then,
the Vietnam War had the same motivation, the same goal, and it failed
totally. With the Afghan crisis and the Iraq war, I usually tell people-and
I believe it is so-that it is too early to say whether some good will come
of it. Only history will tell.
.. Would you advise Bush to find a way of leaving Iraq to the Iraqis?
Actually, after that unbelievable event happened, September 11, I wrote a
letter the very next day to President Bush. While I expressed my sadness and
condolences, I also wrote about the counter measures for such a terrible
tragedy-I believe non-violence is the most effective countermeasure and that's
what I wrote about.
.. It's tough to teach non-violence to Bush, even for the Dalai Lama.
Of course, he and the White House take full responsibility. I am an outsider
and an outsider may not fully understand the reality he faces. Just like the
Tibetan problem, which I know, but an outsider may sometimes not understand.
So you can't blame everything on President Bush, poor Bush!
.. Well, at least there is somebody you can blame all the problems of the
world on right now. (both laugh).
You know there is a Buddhist concept-interdependency, interconnectedness. I
think it's very important to keep that in mind. If you look only at one
event, then it's very easy to say: 'This is wrong' or 'This is right'. But
if you look at things from a wider angle, then the picture may be different.
These are very complicated matters. I blame these negative events on our
past negligence about our inner values. I think the reality of the 20th
century and now of the 21st century, the reality of the whole planet, is
something very different. Everything is interdependent, that is the reality.
But we are still using old concepts to deal with it-there's 'we' and there's
.. But that is how Bush looks at the world-you are either with us or you are
I think that is too simple.
.. So Buddhism and Bushism don't go together?
(laughs) I am probably going to meet Bush in November, may use that with
him-Buddhism and Bushism.
.. I can put that in my memoirs, if I can get the Dalai Lama to quote half a
line from me (both laugh). But, Your Holiness, when you look at the US and
its allies going to Iraq to fight-in the past, they've gone to Vietnam, they've
gone to Korea. There are other causes around the world, there's Taiwan,
where the Americans have threatened to take military action. Do you feel the
Tibetan cause is being lost, it's becoming more a cause for Free Tibet T-
The Tibet issue has a different background. I don't think we can compare it
with these matters. First, it is an old issue, going back to the late 1940s
and 50s. Tibetans themselves remained isolated in the past. The other side,
China, is a very important nation.
.. But do you think the cause itself is being lost now, that it's becoming
more of an exotic cause?
No. But look locally at the Tibetan cause. Because of a large number of
Chinese immigrants. Tibetans have become a minority. For example, today, the
population of Lhasa is around 3,00,000 of which two thirds, that means
2,00,000, are Chinese and 1,00,000 are Tibetans. Or take some other
autonomous region, like Inner Mongolia. According to some, the Mongolian
population is around three million. But the Chinese population is more than
10 million, some say 18 million.
Interest in Dalai Lama shows Buddhism's reach
Saturday, October 22, 2005
When the Dalai Lama delivered his first lecture to an American audience, the
year was 1979, and the place was in northwestern New Jersey, at an obscure
Buddhist teaching center.
"We had maybe several hundred people," said Diana Cutler, who has lived at
the center for decades. "He wasn't famous then." That has changed.
Recently, the 75-year-old leader of Tibetan Buddhism and global human rights
champion addressed more than 32,000 people at Rutgers University's football
stadium -- on "Peace, War and Reconciliation."
But the sheer numbers served notice of a change going on outside the campus:
Buddhism has entered the mainstream of the American religious landscape,
spreading from remote monasteries and university lecture halls to the
"People don't find it so weird anymore when you say you're a Buddhist," said
Amy Hertz, the vice president of Morgan Road Books, which just published the
latest Dalai Lama-penned book, The Universe in a Single Atom.
Hertz said a previous book co-written by the Dalai Lama, The Art of
Happiness, was so popular that it sold a million U.S. copies in hardcover
and turned up in scenes on Friends and Sex and the City.
"When you see Buddhism popping up on TV, you know it's booming," Hertz said.
Yet a more telling change may be happening off-screen.
American converts to Buddhism have been organizing their own distinctive
communities, meeting in homes, churches and small halls. Although these
sanghas -- or practice communities -- are barely a blip on the radar screen
compared with the growth of Muslims or evangelical Christians, they're
drawing a steady supply of people seeking an alternative to institutional
"There isn't a leader telling you what you should feel or believe, and
that's very appealing to many people," said Bernard Spitz, who founded a Zen
Buddhist group in Ridgewood, N.J.
Spitz's group, which meets in the local Unitarian church, is small and
informal and focuses mostly on weekly meditation classes that begin with the
sound of a bell.
A Buddhist center in Wyckoff, N.J., is taking the idea a step further,
renting space in a medical building and offering everything from spiritual
drumming to classes in natural healing to a youth group for Buddhist kids.
"In the 1960s and 1970s, everyone wanted to be a great monk or nun," said
Paul Khan, the spiritual director of the High Mountain Crystal Lake Zen
Community. "But today our people have careers, families and responsibilities
in the community. We want to meet them on the ground."
THE NUMBER of American Buddhists has been estimated at 2 million, with Asian
immigrants outnumbering converts by a 3-1 ratio.
The religion dates back 2,500 years, to India, where a wealthy young man
left his home to seek an explanation for human suffering. He became the
Buddha, or enlightened one.
Buddhists believe that life is filled with suffering, but that humans can
alleviate suffering by controlling their desires, overcoming ignorance and
leading moral lives. Buddhists meditate to achieve a state of nirvana, or a
cessation of suffering.
"It's really about learning how to let go of our attachment to the self,"
said Joan Hoeberichts, who runs Heart Circle Sangha, a second Buddhist group
in Ridgewood. "When you meditate, your connection to others becomes more
transparent, and suffering is reduced."
Buddhism began making inroads into America through the counterculture of the
1950s and 1960s.
And one key destination for aspiring Buddhists was the Tibetan Buddhist
Learning Center, the remote Warren County site where the Dalai Lama spoke in
1979. The center attracted several generations of young seekers eager to
learn the religion firsthand from Tibetan monks.
"I came here at 22 and never left," said Joshua Cutler, who runs the center
with Diana, his wife. "I had it in the back of my mind that I really wanted
to pursue the teachings. I had no intention to do anything else."
But the Cutlers' current students have different priorities. They're
typically adults trying to manage family and careers. They come every
Sunday, seeking teachings that they can incorporate into their daily lives.
"My typical Sunday consists of church in the morning, and the Buddhist
center in the afternoon," said Betty Levy, a practicing Catholic and a
resident of Whitehouse Station near the Pennsylvania border.
Unlike an earlier generation of aspiring Buddhists, Levy didn't discover the
center while on a spiritual trek. Instead, she met Diana Cutler while both
women were waiting for their cars to be repaired at a local auto dealership.
And after three years of classes, Levy said Buddhism is making her a better
"In the Gospels, Christ is teaching how to live," Levy said. "And Buddhism
helps give me the tools to live like we should -- to put others first, to
control anger and to be compassionate."
The Cutlers, now in their late 50s, still embrace a quiet, austere lifestyle
that they learned from their mentor, a Tibetan monk named Geshe Ngawang
But they also said the new wave of students is an encouraging sign that
Buddhism is gaining mainstream acceptance.
"It's gotten to the point where people stop me in the supermarket and ask me
about the Dalai Lama," Diana Cutler said. "They want to know how he's doing
and when he's coming back."
A nice Epilogue:
Who Runs Your World ??
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been voted the third most preferred individual that people would like to run the world, according to a poll conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC ). In a press release, BBC said 15,000 people throughout the world took part in this poll "to elect" a fantasy 11 member world government from a selection of the most powerful, charismatic and ( in some cases ) notorious people on the planet." The people were provided with a list of 100 "contenders" - leaders, thinkers, economists - that included Chinese President Hu Jintao. The only conditions were that their choice must include one leader, one thinker, and one economist. The other eight were up to the voters. South African leader Nelson Mandela was voted first with President Bill CLinton being the second. The 11 members that were "voted" are: Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Noam Chomsky, Alan Greenspan, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Richard Branson, George Soros and Kofi Annan. According to the release, this poll was "part of the BBC's global season Who Runs Your World ? exploring where power lies in the 21st century".