I feel the same helplessness I felt 50 years ago: Dalai Lama

March 23rd, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by admin  

By Mannika Chopra
New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Hatred and aggression have no use in finding solutions as they only cause self-destruction, but that does not mean a submission to what the Chinese are doing in his homeland Tibet, the Dalai Lama has said. Addressing an invited gathering in the Indian capital over the weekend, the Tibetan spiritual leader appeared slightly distracted and spoke sporadically on the instability facing the Himalayan region in the wake of the Chinese crackdown on ethnic Tibetan protesters in Lhasa.

He said though he was now safe in India, he was still “feeling the same sense of helplessness and hopelessness that he faced nearly 50 years ago” when he fled to India from Tibet.

Seated on an ornately carved chair on a podium, the Dalai Lama recalled how nearly 50 years ago the Chinese had organised a similar crackdown in Tibet. In 1959, from March 10 onwards, Chinese convoys had invaded Lhasa. After a week, fearing for his life Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the 14th Dalai Lama, then crossed over into India.

The visit by the Dalai Lama, 72, is the first to the capital after the unrest began in China nearly two weeks ago that also triggered protests in front of the Chinese embassy by exiled Tibetans here as well as growing international condemnation. He is here for a five-day workshop on meditation and Buddhist teachings organised by the Foundation of Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Ashok Hotel.

During the first day’s session before an invited audience of 150 people that included distinguished bureaucrats, diplomats, politicians and artistes, the Dalai Lama reiterated his commitment for a non-violent approach to achieve his goal of autonomy.

He had arrived in New Delhi on Friday evening after a high-profile meeting with the US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in Dharamsala, in Himachal Pradesh, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based.

Using the framework of Buddhist teachings to explain his current position, the Dalai Lama said that hatred and aggression had no use in finding solutions as they only caused self-destruction. But submission to what the Chinese were doing in his homeland was not the way. If counter forces were required then they should be used, but the motivation should be a “concern for the Chinese forces”.

If the Chinese did not “heed their negative karma, there would be consequences for them”, he said.

Intellectually, the Dalai Lama expounded, there was a lot of turmoil within the Tibetan community but at a deeper emotional level Tibetans were actually quite calm. Laughing, he said, that even in these troubled times it was the Buddhist practice, with its emphasis on compassion and forgiveness that still allowed him to get eight hours of sound sleep over the past 12 to 13 days.

At the same time, the leader revealed his anxiety about the current situation. He candidly admitted before the start of his lecture that normally he knew beforehand what points to highlight in such presentations but this time his mind was empty.

Outside the venue, asked by the media whether he had any message for the protestors, the Dalai Lama only smiled and moved in to Ashok Hotel’s Banquet Hall edged with fluttering Tibetan prayer flags, Tankha paintings and sayings from Buddhist scriptures.

Speaking more directly on the issue, Rajiv Mehrotra, trustee secretary of the foundation, in his opening remarks saluted the leader’s convictions and courage, criticised the oppressive methods being used by China to quash the Tibetans and urged for an enduring solution.

This is the second such course being by the foundation in Delhi. Some participants feared that given the circumstances the spiritual master would not have had the time to conduct the course but apparently he insisted it be held. The foundation, a non-sectarian, non-denominational organisation was established with the Nobel Peace Prize money awarded to the Dalai Lama in 1989. Its goal is to encourage diversity of beliefs and practices.

(Mannika Chopra can be contacted at mannikachopra@gmail.com)

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