From Dalai With Thanks To China

January 6th 2010

Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, 6 January 2010 (By Nalin Verma, The Telegraph, Calcutta) - Hands folded, the Dalai Lama thanked China. It made the Chinese cry.

The Tibetan spiritual leader today “humbly” paid his “gratitude” to China, turning a yearly peace lecture into an appeal to win over enemy hearts as he reached out to the country that has dismissed his freedom struggle as a separatist movement.

“The mother of Mao Zedong (the founding head of communist China) was a Buddhist. And Buddhism has been the primary religion of China.,” the Dalai Lama told a 200-strong Chinese group who had come to hear him speak on the second day of his five-day World Peace Lecture.

“I humbly pay my gratitude to you and China which accepted Buddhism as its religion and ethos three centuries earlier than Tibet,” he added, hands folded.

The carefully worded statement meant the 74-year-old monk had succeeded in sending a political message without sounding political.

Neither did it violate a condition India had set his Tibetan government-in-exile after he escaped from China nearly 50 years ago — that he wouldn’t make any political statement against Beijing.

The words drew applause from the Chinese visitors and many had tears in their eyes. The Dalai Lama then spoke of the “scientific” appeal of Buddhism.

“Einstein and several other contemporary scientists have found the Buddhist way of living as more scientific for it is an exercise to cure and pure the mind rather than indulging in prayer and recitation,” he said.

“The Chinese people should treasure Buddhism as their cultural and religious asset rather than discarding the peaceful way of living…” the Nobel peace laureate, who spared about 20 minutes to exclusively address his Chinese followers, added.

“You should never forget your original culture and ethos which offer a panacea from the stress and strain caused by materialistic craving and chaos.”

Asked how so many people from mainland China had managed to reach Bodh Gaya, a senior official of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Himachal said it wouldn’t be “wise” to reveal that. “I can only say they found a way to defy restrictions,” Jigme Tsering told The Telegraph.

“Why are you interested in details?” said Li Peng, a young man from Beijing. “I am before you with my passport and a genuine visa.” The others refused to speak.

Among those who met the Dalai Lama today was Hollywood actor Richard Gere. The Pretty Woman star, a practising Buddhist, attended the discourses “like an ordinary person”, official sources said.

Some 30,000 people, including nearly 1,000 westerners, have gathered for the five-day congregation at Bodh Gaya. But the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment is surrounded by Barachatti, Guraru, Belaganj and Dobhi — all places marked as “Red zones” in Bihar police records.

But no Maoist guerrillas were visible — Bodh Gaya looked more like a mini-Lhasa as thousands of monks in their monastic robes milled around.

 

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