For video of the interview, click here
The Dalai Lama:
Andrea Jones, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
I'm Andrea Jones, I'm with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a newspaper in Atlanta. I wanted to ask you, I know you've talked about the blending of modern science and Buddhist tradition. Can you describe what you think are the biggest benefits in the monks learning modern science will be and have been at this point?
Hmm. As I mentioned in there, in our study, there are all Indian non-Buddhist traditions we study. Not necessarily for our practices. We study these things. Now in modern time, it is very important to learn the different traditions which were available in India at that time, like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and so on. Plus Western philosophy and modern science. And then Buddhist science, this is where I make a distinction — Buddhism and Buddhist science. So, Buddhist science, there are description about physical world, particles, so it is very, very interesting, make combination. So that way, very much enriched Buddhist concepts about these external things. So now scientists, through modern science, Buddhist information about different levels of mind and different kinds of mind and also different emotions. That also, you see, helps enrich modern science about mind.
Chris Megerian, The Emory Wheel:
Your role as Dalai Lama has been very unique from all previous Dalai Lamas in your political nature. I was wondering how you saw the role of the Dalai Lama evolving in future generations.
Future generations? Nobody knows. *laughs*
Do you think it will remain as political a role as it has been recently?
No, no, no. As early as 1969, I publicly made statement to whether the very institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not for the Tibetan people. Some people, you see, get the impression that the Dalai Lama institution is so important for Tibetan nation or Tibetan Buddhism. It's wrong. Some occasions the Dalai Lama institution very strong. Some occasions, the Dalai Lama institution, it has ceased. But Tibetan spirituality, Buddhism, Tibetan nation will remain. So for my own case, 'til my death, I am fully committed to promotion of human value and promotion of religious harmony. After me, after my death, my responsibility now finished. *laughter*
So as a Buddhist, I believe, you see, the next sort of rebirth. I don't know where rebirth comes, whether this planet, or some other planet more peaceful. More happier. *laughs* Next question.
Paige Parvin, Emory Magazine:
You've spoken a great deal about happiness on this visit. Do you believe that most people are happy, and why or why not?
Most people? I think human life is basically a mixture, so pain, pleasure. But then average, difficult to say. I think I prefer to say the majority of the human being are relatively happy. Otherwise, the majority of people would commit suicide. We usually see surprise for the high rate of suicide. We're surprised. That means we don't want that. So we see those people who did suicide, we see, quite foolish! Better alive.
So I think average person, I think is happy. But my point is, physical wellbeing, physical comfort, also important. However, it is wrong to look for happiness only in the terms of physical condition with material facility. That is wrong, I think. Material facility is very important, we need physical wellbeing, also important. But that's not sufficient. We must take a more serious look at what our inner mental peace. There, our own mental attitude is very, very important factor. So, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation. Now these mental factor are very, very important factor for peace of mind.
Kim Urquhart, Emory Report:
Yesterday we learned how depression can be treated through meditation. I wondered, do Tibetan monks ever experience depression, and how do they deal with it?
As I mentioned yesterday, even one scholar, a monk, passed through some depressions.
How do you deal with it?
As I mentioned, there are different causes of depression. The cultivation of the view of holistic picture. That is the problem you face. If you look at that problem, only at that problem, only localized, then you make more frustration. Seeing that problem, looking at that problem, then, in meantime look at it from a wider perspective, and that problem not much significance. So the holistic view is very important.
The other thing is, the important thing is that nobody wants suffering. So why? Then you see many problem, man-made problem. Or woman-made problem. *laughter* So you see, our own creation, nobody want trouble, problem. Our approach is to address these things unrealistically. Unrealistic methods bring disaster, even though your intentions are very possible, and you make every effort. But the very method become unrealistic. And as a result, disaster. So, the holistic view, the holistic attitude, is the only way to know reality.
Susan McMillan, The Emory Wheel:
At some point during the struggle for Tibetan independence, Tibetans have used violence to try to attain their political goals. Looking back on that portion, how do you view that portion of the struggle and the use of violence?
Now, violence brings more suffering. More destruction. Not physical violence, but strong voice against voice. The ruler in 1989, in Tiananmen. China's own people, tens of thousands of students involved. But then crushed, by tanks. So in that case, ten thousand, easily crushed. So, in 1956, until early 1960s, crushed by Chinese forces in Tibet. So, one Chinese military person, we received a Chinese paper, in it, it stated between March 1959 and September 1960, the number of people who were killed through military action, in surrounding area, 87,000. So, the open clash with Chinese forces started early 1956. And it remained until 1962, 1963.
In some places, more dense populations. So we roughly estimate, a half million Tibetans killed. And more than half million death through starvation. And that took place during 1958, 1959. So, all together, we believe, more than one million Tibetans perished. So, no use using violence.
Also, you see, we are not seeking independence. We want general autonomy within People's Republic of China. That is also to our advantage. Tibet is a very poor country. Spiritually very advanced, but advanced spirituality will not fill our stomachs. Entire Tibet cannot live in cave. So we need some good shelter, we need material facility, and easier communication. For this, certainly, we want to modernize Tibet. For these reasons, to live in People's Republic China, we get greater benefit for material aspect. Meantime, we should have meaningful autonomy, so that our unique cultural heritage and rich Buddhist tradition and also delicate environment can project effectively. So, Tibetan culture remains alive. Tibetan Buddhism remains alive.
In your life, what single moment has brought you the greatest happiness?
Greatest happiness? Many occasions. One I remember, the next day of my escape from Tibet. So, local time, 10 p.m., I left, disguised as a soldier with a rifle. So, the more I walked, that rifle became heavier, heavier, heavier. *laughs* So, that night, really, full of fear. Because on the road, the other side of the river, just over there, was a Chinese military garrison. So although it was completely dark, we were not using flashlights, still the hooves, the horses still made noise. So, if they notice, very easily, we would be shot. So next morning, next day, when we passed one hill, one mountain, we felt safe. Real liberation! Chinese called that the day there was liberation brought to Tibet. But that day, brought more tight control. So therefore, liberation from that tight control, is real liberation. So, that was one moment that was a happy one.
In the next one week, we already got Chinese bombardment. Thousands of people killed. The blood was flowing everywhere. The Chinese media never mentioned anything about that. Always silence.
Were you surprised by the Chinese, their reaction to your visit here?
No, no not surprised. This always happens! It's quite logical. You see, they consider me a devil. So, the devil is very bad. And the supporters of the devil, even worse! *laughs* So you Americans, these students, also supporters of devil, so you are also bad!
Thank you! I really appreciate this. Group picture?