Japan Tour Ends with Audiences for Tibetans, Mongolians and Chinese

April 18th 2014

Tokyo, Japan, 18 April 2014 - Before leaving for the airport and his flight back to India this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made time to meet separately with groups of Chinese, Mongolians and Tibetans.

Meeting first with more than 100 people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and China he said:

“Wherever I go I try to meet with Chinese friends. Tibetans and Chinese have had relations with each other since the time of Songtsen Gampo. Sometimes we’ve fought, but for more than one thousand years we’ve shared an interest in Buddhism. This began when Songtsen Gampo took a Chinese and a Nepalese wife. So I often tell Chinese Buddhists that I respect you as the senior students. Similarly, when I’m talking to Indians I tell them that as far as we are concerned Indians are our gurus and we are the disciples. And I mention that in times of trouble we look to the gurus and senior students for help. I have been to Taiwan several times and many Chinese have come to Dharamsala so our people to people relations have improved.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to a group of Chinese during his last day in Tokyo, Japan on April 18, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan
He pointed out that when we don’t know what the real situation is it gives rise to suspicion, which is unhelpful and unnecessary. If we are able to meet and learn what’s really going on it makes for happier relations. He said that he had been recommending that Tibetans reach out to China even before the Tiananmen incident took place, but until that point people from mainland China avoided contact with Tibetans. After it happened they came round and connections became stronger. He added that even today it seems a lot Chinese are out of touch with reality; therefore he suggested that people from Taiwan and Hong Kong, who have a better idea about what’s going on, should do what they can to help the people of China become better informed.

“For example, although it might seem inappropriate to say so, those people in Tibet who have the courage to commit self-immolation are clearly capable of harming others, but have determined not to do so. Despite the difficulties they face they still follow the Buddha’s teaching about non-violence. This may not be clearly understood.”

He said that he has heard that recently in Tibet, where Tibetans used to work as tour guides they have been replaced by Chinese who denigrate Tibetan people to Chinese and other tourists. When Tibetans approach such groups to sell things to them they shoo them away. He suggested that problems between Tibet and China could be resolved, but hardliners continue to accuse Tibetans of being splittists.

“Since 1973 we decided not to take that line. Direct contact with China began in 1979 and we had already decided our stand. What we are asking for is the implementation of provisions already recognised in the Chinese constitution. Hardliners use the phrase ‘Greater Tibet’, but there is already recognition of Tibetan regions, prefectures and counties that share a common culture and language. We want these provisions fulfilled on an equal basis.


Audience members during the meeting with groups from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and China, listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking in Tokyo, Japan on April 18, 2014.
Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan

“Because the Tibetan language is a focus of our identity its use is discouraged. But as you know, the Tibetan language today is the best medium for explaining Buddhist philosophy and science. Sanskrit is no longer a living language and although there is substantial Buddhist literature available in Chinese, Tibetan translations are more accurate. So this issue is not just the concern of the Tibetan people, it’s about the expression of Buddhism in the world, the most comprehensive teaching of which is preserved in Tibetan.

“The existence of different languages is not a threat. Look at India, many people there speak and write in different languages without it being a threat to the country. When they enjoy equal rights under the rule of law people can live together in freedom and equality. Tibetans having their own language is not in itself a threat.”

He went on to mention that Hu Jintao’s idea of promoting a harmonious society was admirable, but it couldn’t be fulfilled by use of force. Friendship and harmony need to be based on trust not fear. Meanwhile the internal security budget in China exceeds the defence budget. His Holiness suspected that of the 200 countries in the world, this is only true of China. He concluded by saying that if harmony and respect prevailed between Tibetans and Chinese they could live together.

He invited questions from his listeners and the first was an invitation to come to Taiwan. His Holiness replied that since his first visit he had thought about coming to Taiwan every other year, but he hasn’t received government approval to do so. He said he’d wondered about making a transit stop in Taiwan on his way back from Okinawa, but that too was not approved. A woman who suggested that relations between Hong Kong and China have worsened lately asked how to stick to the path of non-violence. His Holiness responded that Tibetans have maintained a strictly non-violent approach for more than 50 years but it hasn’t yet solved the problem. He pointed out that in democratic countries there is transparency and that transparency is clearly better than secrecy and suspicion. Since the arrival of Xi Jinping there seems to be some improvement and he seems at least interested in seeking truth from facts.

“Don’t be discouraged,” he said.

Another questioner wanted to know if there was any chance of His Holiness coming to China and he reminded her that in the fourth round of meetings his representatives had had with the Chinese, he had expressed interest in making a pilgrimage to Wu Taishan, but like his plan to come to Taiwan, it wasn’t approved.


A member of a group from Mongolia presenting an offering to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his last day in Tokyo, Japan on April 18, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan
Meeting a group of about 50 Mongolians His Holiness praised the friendship and cultural ties Tibetans and Mongolians have long shared. He said:

“In the 20th century you faced great tragedy and Buddhism in Mongolia went into decline. Tibetans are facing similar problems now. But relations between Tibetans and Mongolians go back hundreds of years to when we roamed the land as nomads. Now that you have regained your freedom, you must use the opportunity well. There are too many examples in Africa of what can go wrong when freedom and democracy are misused. With democracy comes responsibility. Today, Mongolians place great faith in the Dharma, but faith based on reason is even firmer and more stable, so study is important. In the past there were many great scholars who came from Mongolia. However, understanding of Buddhism needs to be combined with basic modern education. Tibet was backward in terms of modern education and technological development and we lost our country.”

His Holiness advised Mongolians to emulate the determination exemplified by their people at the time of Genghis Khan. But today they need that kind of courage combined with intelligence. He said that he has also counselled Indians to focus development efforts in villages, not only in cities. Schools, hospitals and other facilities need to be provided to people in the rural areas where they live.

He recalled that there are now 300 Mongolian monks studying in the main Tibetan monasteries in South India who will be able to contribute to the flourishing of the Dharma in the future.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the Tibetan community living in Japan on the last day of his visit to Tokyo, Japan on April 18, 2014. Photo/Office of Tibet, Japan
When he met with Tibetans who live in Japan His Holiness said he didn’t have a lot to say because he has been able to meet them quite often.

“My meetings with scientists and the ongoing dialogues I’ve had with them have reinforced my appreciation of the marvellous qualities of Tibetan language to describe how to deal with the mind and emotions. English is not yet adequate, the best language in this area is Tibetan. That’s something we can be proud of. After all, Buddhism is important as one of the great world religions.

“As I mentioned earlier when I met with some Chinese, self-immolations are still going on in Tibet. Those who do this clearly could, but don’t, choose to harm others. Despite everything, they don’t want to breach the basic Buddhist pledge not to hurt others. Even Chinese visitors to Tibet report that Tibetans are a kind and compassionate people. This is one of the reasons why our cause commands respect today. Keep up this moral standard, don’t be deceitful. Things are changing in China. People inside Tibet still have an unflinchingly strong spirit. We all have to keep this up. In the USA our representative office has moved to Washington DC, but I have suggested that a branch office be  maintained in New York to be focussed on keeping Tibetans in touch with each other. We have to stick together. Tashi delek.”

His Holiness then drove directly to Narita airport to board his flight to India. Representative Lhakpa Tshoko, who will shortly be transferred to Australia, Lungtok, who is to be his successor as Representative in Japan and East Asia and Tsering Dorje from the Representative’s office, were all there to see him off at the end of a successful two weeks in Japan.
 

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