New Delhi: On Your Call, Dalai Lama takes on some questions from across the country, including one from Narayana Murthy of Infosys. Below is the full transcript of the interview.
NDTV: Traditionally we celebrate the arrival of a new year, but in the beginning of this new year, India is a country united in grief and anger against the brutal rape of a young girl. On this special episode of Your Call I am joined by a very special guest, the one man who can perhaps give us some sense of peace as we try to comprehend the brutal happenings around us, the Dalai Lama. It’s a time when in India there is a great sense of grief and anger because of what happened to a young girl. What would your message be Your Holiness, at a time like this?
Dalai Lama: Of course, firstly, such incidents are really very sad, very sad. Now India is a huge country and with long history. I think a very civilized culture heritage. India had a culture of non-violence, Ahimsa, at least two to three thousand years ago. They had in modern times during freedom fight, difficult period. The Indian leaders follow thousand years’ old principles, then also, religious harmony on the basis of mutual understanding is also very much alive. So now I think overall picture of India, I think the material development with modern education increasing or developed, then it’s very helpful, but at the same time particularly people must pay more serious attention. You see the modernisation including education and thousand years old your own traditional values, these things are the basis of moral principal. Now that is lacking. I think they are neglected. Now over 53 years India is my home now. So big towns, big buildings, a lot of cars, lot of facilities are much improved even in my own place Dharamshala. Over 50 years it is much changed, but in meantime like these incidents and also lot of corruptions, injustice of activities here and there. Now people particularly people must think more seriously how to keep your thousand year old tradition. Basically the human values, these are very important.
NDTV: As a society, how do we regain our moral compass? I have some questions Your Holiness from some young protestors who wanted to ask you some questions. Let’s hear what they have to say
Question 1: Right now in the situation where this girl has died a terrible death because of her horrendous rape. The public is baying for their blood, How do we argue with them against the death penalty which I’m against and which I think you as a Buddhist are also against?
NDTV: We see so much anger. People want the death penalty. How do we convert this anger into something constructive?
Dalai Lama: Actually, my own sort of belief since I think few decades some international organisations started a movement banning the death penalty. I’m one of the signatories so that’s my basic stand, but then in case to case countries are putting their own law. So you have to deal according to your own law.
NDTV: You of course you have signed and Buddhism is against violence and you are against the death penalty. Leaving aside the issues of laws in India, many have argued that the death penalty can be a deterrent or it will make sure that crimes against women come to an end or it can work as the extreme punishment. They have cited the Middle East and Arab countries where the crime rate is much lower. Why are you against the death penalty?
Dalai Lama: Firstly because life is precious. So ahimsa means respect for precious life so don’t harm. That’s the idea of Ahimsa. So according to that if you shorten life, it’s not good and also it’s a form of violence but in particular circumstances like abortion, basically it’s the form of violence. So we should not do it, we should not implement the death penalty. Sometime back I think in Tihar jail the lady police tried to introduce some meditation.
NDTV: Kiran Bedi?
Dalai Lama: Yes. So that’s the proper way. Death sentence means it’s the punishment physically. It won’t help. Look the violent method everywhere all over the world. Sincere motivation is a good goal. The result of violence is always complicated. So, therefore, education and also educate these criminal people. Let them eventually realize their own mistake. Very negative individual through awareness and more education eventually become very good citizen. So that’s the proper way. That’s my view.
Question 2: How do you keep your faith in the fundamental goodness of human beings when horrible things like this are happening all the time and we cannot do anything to stop them?
Dalai Lama: Seven billion human beings, if all seven billion human beings do this kind of thing then I will lose my faith. Perhaps I think 95 per cent of human beings still have human nature, affection, sense of concern about others well-being, still there are. Now only thing we should do is make awareness. Respect others’ life, helping other people is actually the best way to fulfill your own happy life. Harming other people, bullying other including raping will destroy your own good future life. So, therefore, all these depend on awareness, education.
NDTV: We focus so much of course on the problem in India right now, but I also have questions from some young Tibetans for you, so let’s just hear what they have to say
Question 3: My question to His Holiness The 14 Dalai Lama is that Tibet was an independent nation and now it’s not an independent nation. Is there a possibility of seeing an independent nation in the near future?
NDTV: Many young Tibetans want independence.
Dalai Lama: Yes. Historically Tibet is a separate nation. There is no question but look at the future. Firstly, look at the spirit of European union, common interest is more important than individual because individual’s interest very much link with common interest. So one time Vinoba ji, he once expressed concept of ABC, that mean A Afghanistan, B Burma, C, Sri Lanka, then India, Pakistan. All these countries should set up some kind of pattern. So these are, I feel, long term, long run realistic approach, if that kind of idea materializes, then Afghanistan today will be much stable and also Bangladesh and Pakistan. So, therefore, yes we are a separate nation but not necessarily just insist on that. Let us try to build new kind of genuine union. If that fails then it’s something different. So far our middle approach brought lot of support from Chinese people, mainly Chinese intellectuals. After 2008 crisis we noticed over 1 thousand articles in Chinese language written by Chinese. All fully supported our middle approach and very critically about their own government policy. In anyway, support from Chinese people, from Chinese intelligence is very necessary. Emotionally many young people say, “oh we want independence” they never show us how to achieve independence step by step. How much support from Chinese people, how much support from Indian government? How much support from European union, how much support from the United States? Thinking realistically is important. Saying independence, independence is not easy.
NDTV: Are you optimistic about the new Head Premier Xi Jinping? Are you optimistic?
Dalai Lama: Too early to say but for their own interest they have to follow more realistic approach. Using force is outdated, more violence, more suppression, more resentment, that’s logical. Therefore, I’m quite sure the new leadership, with help of these intellectual people, has to follow, as things are being stated, seeking truth from fact sooner or later the more realistic approach. The so-called minorities problems like Tibetan problem, Mongolian problem some other problem, they follow more realistic approach, more realistic approach and basically equal terms. Most times he emphasised equality. He always said against Han chauvinism. In recent decades that word disappeared.
NDTV: Even though you retired in a sense, whatever you say is still held as the word of God in a sense for the entire Tibetans and many have asked about the issue of your succession, and China has made it very clear they want to decide. You have said that let us see what will happen, the process of reincarnation. Some may say that you even appoint somebody before your death, which has never happened before. What is your view on this?
Dalai Lama: 2-3 years ago I made it very clear after thorough discussion with head of Tibetan Buddhist tradition, different tradition. Occasionally we gathered; we discussed about future of Dalai Lama institution or re-incarnation. Then I think two years ago we made one statement with full consensus with leaders that the essential thing is around my age, around late 90′s then I will discuss with people and finalise. One time in America some media asked me about my reincarnation then I took my glass and looked at his face and said my reincarnation is quite a hurry or not much? Then he said no hurry.
NDTV: No hurry at all, but of course you said who knows, may be it’s a woman, that may be a nice break
Dalai Lama: Actually as early as ’69, in my formal statement I mentioned the very institution of Dalai Lama should continue or not is up to Tibetan people that’s the principle. After 10 years or 15 years if the situation is such that the majority of Tibetan people feel now Dalai Lama institution is no longer much relevant, then the institution automatically will seize. In case majority of people want to keep this institution then the question how to carry the successor, that also is, either as you follow the traditional way or some senior sort of Tibetan Lamas, they are sort of successor and reincarnation also, you see in Tibetan history, even today this is some reincarnated Lama you see actually appointed by the previous life while still alive. So you chose through investigation, mystery way of investigation, then they found some children quite fit for their successor and then appoint. That’s also possible.
NDTV: But China will make this an issue of control.
Dalai Lama: That I think is mainly a political reason now that I already retired. Quite popular fourteenth Dalai Lama also now retired already, so fifteenth Dalai Lama you see they’re not so important in political field. So then their interests actually don’t much reasons. In the past there was some Chinese emperor, actually showing interest about some high Tibetan Lama’s. At that time the Emperors themselves are Buddhists, some Emperors actually receiving teaching from some Tibetan Lama, so some spiritually special relations. So then naturally when Dalai Lama passed away, the disciple, she’s showing some interest, some involvement, that’s natural, you see is possible. Today it’s something different purely. It’s political reasons, so then I was jokingly telling people the Communists firstly should accept the theory of rebirth, then according that sort of belief they should choose for reincarnation, then logically they have some right to be talking about Dalai Lama’s reincarnation
NDTV: You represent God to so many people. The Chinese will describe you in very different terms. You’ve been described by them some times as a demon, sometimes the Lama who wears Gucci shoes, how do you see yourself?
Dalai Lama: Okay, well Buddhist times some people were very much criticised about Buddha. Jesus Christ also you saw fight a difficult period, so that’s normal. And you see my case I think those Chinese officials, actually I had met one Chinese retired sort of official, he told me some Chinese officials who described me as a demon, then that Chinese retired person he told me that statement did not come from his heart but instruction. So the person who gave this instruction also I think do not really believed that, but because of political reason. I usually used to tell people yes they are blaming, I told you, see they blame on me some help to reduce this problem and I am happy
NDTV: What would you say to those who see you as a celebrity spiritual leader, the talk of your friendship with Richard Gere, the talk of the fact that you are so popular on Twitter, they say that you are a celebrity also more than a spiritual leader, what would you say to those people?
Dalai Lama: That also I don’t care, some people say God, king nonsense. Some people say demon nonsense. When first time announcement was made about the Nobel Peace Prize, I think it’s ’89, so a lot of media people came and asked me “what do you feel” and I told I am a simple Buddhist monk no more, no less, no differences and still I am like that
NDTV: You’re God for so many people Your Holiness
Dalai Lama: That’s their view. If they believe, if they get some benefit from that view okay, if those people who considered me truly as a demon, if they are really happy, okay doesn’t matter.
NDTV: I have some question for Your Holiness from Kolkata now, so let’s travel there and see what they have to say
Question 4: Hi I am Raja Guha from Kolkata, Sir I have a small question for you. As per the recent newspaper reports the Chinese police has been blaming the Dalai Lama, India for the self-immolation and the various incidents, which are happening in Tibet. What will be your take on that?
Dalai Lama: Yes I received this information. Deep inside I really feel like laughing. That’s the indication of desperation, they really find it difficult to explain outside world and also they put lot of restriction about this information to their own people. Now these days I always keep mentioning when I met some Chinese, 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality, 1.3 billion Chinese people once know the reality they also have the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong. Therefore censorship is immoral, fooling their own people, let them know whether good or bad, let them judge that’s very important. Then second thing, the Chinese Judiciary system must promote or uplift up to international judiciary system, then millions of Chinese poor people will really get some protection. So these two things I think are very important so. Therefore, it’s the censorship and also the distorted information. I already mentioned you see, I think those people who make these sort of false statement, they themselves know these are not true. I was told after People’s Daily mentioned all sort of accusations about me, there is a lot of response from Chinese people, intellectuals, a negative sort of expression to their own newspaper, it’s okay it doesn’t matter.
NDTV: But the tragedy, these self-immolations Your Holiness, initially there wasn’t a clear indication. There was silence because of the feeling that this was also for a cause they felt very strongly in. You have afterwards condemned it, but Chinese argument is that self-immolation is completely against all Buddhist tenants. How do you actually see the people who have killed themselves in these self-immolations? Do you see them as martyrs, are they martyrs for you?
Dalai Lama: Strictly speaking from Buddhist viewpoint, ultimately it depends on motivation. Case to case we cannot generalise something wrong or something right. We cannot say. It depends on individual motivation so that we don’t know. Last year when this first happened I was in Japan and I told time has come, the Chinese government must carry thorough investigation, what is the cause of these sad events? These events are symptom of some cause. I feel very sad, but these people carrying such decision. Not due to drunken state, not due to family problem but I think through generations, 2-3 generations they really suffered a lot. So in order to say something I must have something to offer them, then I can say, but I have nothing. I feel very sorry and can do prayer. Otherwise I can do nothing. The Chinese government can do but they simply blame on others. It won’t solve the problem. So the time has come they should start thorough investigation, what are the causes for these events. They have to think more seriously about these events.
NDTV: 95 people, the number actually is so large. Would you appeal to them not to do this? We have seen young girls, monks do this, would you appeal to them not to do this?
Dalai Lama: Yes I mentioned earlier. This question is politically sensitive. Political leaders have expressed right from the beginning, very clearly we never encourage such acts, but at the same time if we have something to offer them then I can say you should not do this. We can do this way but nothing to offer them. Ask doctors or consult people now, please I cannot no longer bear this painful experience then please carry mercy killing. It’s very difficult.
NDTV: Do you feel that it’s a diplomatic issue that countries like India, the US must do more on this issue, must put more pressure on China for this? Because presumably the people who are killing themselves are frustrated, feeling that the Tibetan movement is going nowhere. Do you think there must be now more global pressure and also pressure from India?
Dalai Lama: Many countries publicly or behind the scene they are already pursuing. Actually this boundary problem is still there. India is our Guru. Sometimes I tell my Indian audience we are your chela. You are our Guru. When chela has some problem, Guru also has some more or less responsibility. Indian public right from the beginning, I always remember Jai Prakash Narayan and Acharya Kripalani, these people really came forward about Tibet problem. Then all Indian leaders are showing us their concern. In meantime how much India can do. That’s also a real question. There is limitation. United States also faces some kind of limitation.
NDTV: Some questions Your Holiness from Mumbai
Question 5: Hi I’m Tanya from St Xavier’s. Being such a great world religious leader I want to know what are your thoughts on this spread of religious terrorism around the world?
Dalai Lama: It’s clear sign people generally are lacking about moral principles including those people who say I’m follower of this religion or that religion. Judging their act I don’t think these are serious believers.
NDTV: The words Islamic terrorism, Hindu fundamentalism …
Dalai Lama: Yes every religion like Christianity, Islam, is different. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism all talk about compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and everybody say human brothers, sisters like that. So therefore these people not only today but even in past history used name of religion but evoked some violent method or some different things. Their aim is economy reasons or power, political power so simply they use name of religion. They manipulate religion, so I cannot accept these people who carry violent activities in their own religion. I think they are essentially non-believers. There is too much emotion. If they are genuine believer of God or Buddha then they must implement compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, then there will be no violence. Basically you cannot blame these people. There is too much self-cantered atmosphere. If they don’t care about others rights, and then compassion, forgiveness is simply lip service. Sometimes, I publicly tell people unless we become very serious otherwise religion will teach us practice of hypocrisy, saying nice things, doing something different is totally wrong. Essentially these are non-believers.
Question 6: Hello I’m from St Xavier’s college, my questions is little of a personal nature. I want to know if you have ever felt any kind of self-doubts or if your religious views have always been that the ones they are right now?
Dalai Lama: Buddha himself stated ‘oh my follower should not accept my teaching out of faith, out of devotion, but rather thorough investigation and experiment, the scientific way of approach.’ So all the Nalanda masters like Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Chandrakirti, all these great masters of Nalanda, even Buddha’s own words, they carry investigation whether Buddha’s statement is acceptable or not. So they are always based on logic and experiment so, therefore, I follow that pattern, tradition. For example Mount Meru, many Buddhists no longer accept that
Dalai Lama: Yes I hope. I still bully Buddhists. So we have liberty. We must accept the reality. The round world, now scientifically through calculation, through observation we actually see that. So the flat world, in centre Mount Meru and sun and moon go like that. As a Buddhist you cannot accept that. Basically for noble truth, to truth and the concept of inter-Tibetan, the Sanskrit word prasannapada, it’s very scientific, so more experience, more talk with scientist or non-believer. My belief in inter-Tibetanacy, which is prasannapada, my faith increases. Many scientists really found that concept. Everything inter-Tibetan and due to its own causes and conditions. No Creator of course. Religion based on concept of Creator, that’s also wonderful, very effective. Very powerful, that approach is also very good. But Buddhist approach and Jainism have different way of approach.
NDTV: Besides the faith in Buddhist teaching as well, you were discovered, reincarnation at the young age of 6, you are now 76, I think. You have seen the world. Did you ever think, you described yourself as a simple Buddhist monk, did you ever think that maybe one day you would be something different or you could have seen something different, your life could have been different?
Dalai Lama: In this life?
NDTV: In this life, in the last 70 years from a 6 year-old boy to 76, any self-doubt on the path you are on?
Dalai Lama: No. I think more interaction with people including my best friend, with family, lot of problems.
NDTV: It’s simpler this way, no wife?
Dalai Lama: No, when I saw my friend. What a trouble
NDTV: The fighting?
Dalai Lama: The fighting about global issues. That’s okay, but trouble due to little things, so the celibate way of life. It’s really very good. I really believe that. Even in my dreams I always remember I’m a monk, I never felt in dreams I am the Dalai Lama. I always feel I’m one Buddhist monk.
NDTV: You said Your Holiness over 50 years in India. Anything Indianised in you? Any particular food you like, any particularly music?
Dalai Lama: Indian Dal. Indian chapatti. Actually in recent years I discovered myself as the son of India and on one occasion some overseas Chinese media people came to see me. One Chinese asked me little seriously, why you mentioned you are some Vaidya? He thought some political reason maybe he felt this is political reason. Then I told him look my thought, my brain, every cell of my brain filled by Nalanda thought. That’s ancient Indian thought, then my physical, I told in last 50 years this body survived by Indian dals, Indian rice, Indian chapatti, so therefore, mentally, physically I belong to this country, so I call myself as son of India.
NDTV: That’s wonderful Your Holiness and final question tonight from someone I don’t know if you know, a very famous Indian ethical corporate leader, Mr Narayana Murthy of Infosys. He has a question to ask you
Narayana Murthy: Dalai Lama ji, my question to you is how do you define success in life?
Dalai Lama: Meaningful means are social animal. Seven billion human beings are social animals, so when we judge others as a social animals, one individual taking care about rest of the community, we feel good. One individual is always fighting, we feel unhappy, although we are not part of them. Then look at our self we are social animal. In any way we are born on this planet not to create trouble or suffering, therefore, no matter how rich economically and educated, materialistic education and power it creates more problem to others, then your life is really a waste. If your life at least gives some benefit to others, some service like some Christian brothers, sisters, they have totally dedicated their lives for well-being of others. Many spiritual believer as well as non-believer really dedicated their life for well-being of others. Their life is meaningful life. So when their life ends they feel happy, oh I really dedicated my life for well-being of others, I never created any enemy, any trouble for others. On the other hand one billionaire will have too much self-cantered attitude, will bully others, cheat others, then at the end of their life they already know, this money, power is no longer any useful. Then they regret, rest of my life I really created trouble for others, bullied others, cheating others. Then at the end that person I think most probably will be very unhappy and helpless person. So I consider whole life dedicated for the well-being of others then that means fulfilment of your life. So I serve other people as much as possible. That’s the right method to fulfil your life and becoming meaningful life.
NDTV: Your Holiness a wonderful message for 2013, thank you so much for joining us on Your Call. Thank you.