EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Dalai Lama confident of living to 113 and seeing a free Tibet

By The Nation
Dharamshala, India
Published on March 16, 2011

www.nationmultimedia.com

Dharamshala, India (The Nation-Thailand/ANN) – After his morning sermon to Buddhists from Thailand, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma on Tuesday, Tibetan spiritual leaderthe Dalai Lama granted an hour’s interview to The Nation (Thailand) group editor Suthichai Yoon in the reception chamber of his palace in Dharamashala, Himalchal Pradesh.

During the interview, Tibet’s spiritual leader confirmed his plan to retire later this year and devolve political power to an elected leader. He expects a nod to his planned retirement and power devolution from his ministers at an upcoming parliamentary session. If the ministers disagree, the Dalai Lama will try to talk with them and convince them of the benefits of his plans. “Some formalities must change,” he said.

The Dalai Lama also took the opportunity to take China to task for its past and present aggression and its hard-line stance towards Tibet.

“I’ve just told Tibetans gathering here this morning that they need to be more educated themselves and follow peaceful means to achieve Tibet’s autonomy. My position is clear: autonomy. The international community supports us because we use peaceful means to call for our country’s autonomy,” he said.

“I laughed when I heard the Chinese government had called me a splittist. I take pity with the Chinese hard-liners. They are harmful to their future.”

The trends in the world are “the rule of law, transparency, fairness, honesty and respect for human values”. China is going counter to the trends, and needs to learn from India about democracy among people of different languages and ethnic backgrounds, he said.

“In India, because of the rule of law, there’s harmony in society, which has different languages and scripts. Democracy in this country is very deeply rooted not because of the country’s poor conditions, but because of transparency.

“In China, there are state secrets. People in China should learn from India’s experience. Military occupation will not solve problems,” he said.

He hopes to see a free Tibet while he’s alive. Some 20 or 30 years from now, he will concentrate on his spiritual, not political, role, confident that he’s fit enough to live through his 113 years.

“Forty years ago there, I was predicted to live to 113. One Tibetan writing dating back 100 years describes a person in today’s world who will live through 113 years. That person is thought to be me because I share his qualities. In my dreams, I am 113 years old. I’m quite sure of my age. You can extend your life.

“I’ll live long enough to see a free Tibet in my lifetime. If I’m still alive then, I’ll choose the next Dalai Lama on my own. All my political power will be with an elected leader. I’ll concentrate on my spiritual duty. We can meet for an interview in Beijing then. Then, you need to prepare some oxygen and go to Tibet,” he said with a laugh.

The Dalai Lama then received a group of over 100 Thai pilgrims in his palace and delivered a speech that touched on various subjects from “a turmoil by red shirts” and the Japanese tsunami to the late Buddhadasa, his passion for science and psychology, and the pursuit of happiness and compassion.

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