His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Toronto - Day Two

October 24th 2010

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 23 October 2010 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his programs on October 23, 2010 with an half an hour meeting with the press at his hotel. In his initial remarks, His Holiness talked about his three commitments of promoting human values, promoting religious harmony and resolving the Tibetan issue.  He said everyone desires a happy life and for that peace of mind is essential. He said the ultimate source of happiness is within oneself and so people need to pay more attention to inner values.  Secondly, His Holiness said as a Buddhist monk he wanted to promote religious harmony.  He said all major religions have the same message and that harmony among the different traditions is not only essential but also possible.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets members of the media in Toronto on October 23rd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness said he was a Tibetan and had the name of the Dalai Lama.  He added that the Tibetans in Tibet as well as outside have full trust in him and so it was his moral responsibility to resolve the Tibetan problem.

His Holiness then answered some questions from the press.  In response to a question whether the Nobel Prize to Liu Xiaobo would help or hinder democracy in China, His Holiness said that, in the long run, there is no doubt the prize to a person to greater openness will encourage democracy in China. However, he said he doesn’t know how it would play in the short term. “We’ll have to see,” he said adding that it could also be that the Chinese Government may pose obstacles and become defiant. He said that voices in favor of democracy, the rule of law, liberalization and transparency are growing in China.

To a question on whether India had any role in the Tibetan dialogue process with China, His Holiness said that India’s moral support is always there. He talked about the historical and cultural relationship between India and Tibet quoting the late Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai who said the civilizations of Tibet and India were like two branches of the same Bodhi tree. Ecologically, millions of Indians depend on water from rivers that emerge in Tibet, he said as a way to show why India is concerned about developments in Tibet. However, on the negotiations with China, His Holiness said that it was our preference to have direct talks with the Chinese side and that India did not play a role there.

His Holiness was asked about the demonstrations by Tibetans against the Chinese government’s announced intention to replace Tibetan with Mandarin as the medium of instruction. His Holiness said that the China may want to learn from the Indian experience where preservation and promotion of the linguistic diversity is being done without that being seen as a danger of separation.

A journalist said he was asking a question sent by a reader. The reader wondered as to the reason behind His Holiness was constantly jolly.  His Holiness responded that it was spontaneous and there was no particular reason.  He joked that may be scientists could do some research on this. His Holiness said that there may be a genetic reason adding that all his brothers and sisters – except one brother who is stern – were jovial.

He also said it might come from cultural heritage and geography. He said Tibet was a vast land with a small population and human contact brings joy.  He said unlike urban areas like Toronto and New York, which have too many people, in rural areas where the population is less people still have such a spirit.

His Holiness said he had constantly been advising people to have a realistic approach and so he should be practicing the same himself. He quoted the 8th century Indian master Shantideva about not having to worry if a problem has a solution and about there being no use of worrying of there was no solution.  For certain things that are beyond our control, His Holiness said worry too much over them was a form of self-torture.

Another question about how His Holiness thought the Tibetan issue could be resolved given that the nine rounds of talks have not borne results and given the attitude of the Communist Chinese. His Holiness talked about the historical development of Tibetan-Chinese relationship in the past several centuries.  He said relations have been good at time with even marital and spiritual ties being established while at times there has been negative development, with wars having been waged with Tibetans bullying the Chinese.

His Holiness recalled the former Panchen Lama having said in 1989, just before his sudden death, that if we compare the positive outcome of China’s policies in Tibet with that of the negative, the negative outweigh the positive.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets members of various faiths during his visit to the Tibetan Cultural Center in Toronto on October 23rd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness talked about his meetings with Chairman Mao and other Chinese leaders during his visit to Beijing in 1954-55 and how impressed he was with their idealism, like that of the Indian freedom fighters. He was very attracted by this that he even wanted to join the Chinese Communist Party. He said in terms of socio-economic theory he considered himself a Marxist, although not a Leninist or a Stalinist. However, subsequently power corrupted Mao and these leaders.  Today, he said that the Party was becoming corrupted and on account of their weakness, the authorities have to indulge in censorship.

But the 1.3 billion Chinese have a right to know the reality and the 1.3 billion Chinese people have the capability to judge what is right and wrong, he said. His Holiness said that it is immoral for the Chinese government to censor their own people and that censorship and distorted information creates mistrust. China can indulge in censorship only within its borders and cannot do so in the outside world, including in Canada.

His Holiness said that he supported President Hu Jintao’s call for building a harmonious society, but said that this can come about only when there is trust.  Censorship only brings about distrust and using force engenders fear, which are opposite of a harmonious society, he said.

Once China becomes open and a free society, the Tibetan issue can be solved, he said adding that this is because we were not seeking separation. He said every Tibetan desire material development suggesting that Tibetans who come to Canada do so not because there is spirituality here but more because of the money. Tibetans, too, want to be happy he said.

His Holiness talked about the Tibetan language and how it has helped in promoting Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhist culture. He said preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist culture was also in the interest of the millions of Chinese who are looking for spiritual sustenance. China is historically a Buddhist country, His Holiness said.

His Holiness said for many decades he had been trying to reach out to Chinese people but there was reluctance from their side. Following the Tiananmen development, it was much easier to get responses from the Chinese.  He added that after the 2008 crisis in Tibet more and more Chinese have started paying attention to the Tibetan issue and he had been advising Tibetans to work towards the establishment of Chinese-Tibetan friendship groups to promote mutual understanding.

At the end, His Holiness talked about why he called himself a son of India.  He said this was nothing to do with politics but was a reality based on India being the source of Tibetan spiritual heritage. He joked that if his brain was looked at it can be seen that the content are all knowledge propagated by the Indian Nalanda . Turning to a journalist who was of Indian origin, His Holiness pointed to his own body and said that it survived last 51 years from Indian dhal and Indian chapati.

Thereafter, His Holiness left the hotel to inaugurate the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre. On his arrival at the Centre members of the Tibetan community and invited guests gave him a ceremonial welcome. The guests included Senator Consiglio DiNino (who was also at the Rogers Centre to receive His Holiness on October 22), Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and leader of opposition Michael Grant Ignatieff, other MPs and city councilors, Toronto Mayor David Miller,  as well as friends and supporters of the Center.

The program began with the singing of the Tibetan and the Canadian national anthems as the Tibetan community’s band provided the music. There were screening of a documentary on the Centre and the performances of excerpts from dance and opera by Tibetan children.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama joins in making offerings at the inauguration ceremony of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Center in Toronto on October 23rd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
Senator DiNino conveyed the greetings of the Canadian Prime Minister and said that the dream of the Tibetan community for the centre was now becoming a reality. He referred to the Centre as a wonderful expression of Canadianism. He said the Tibetan contribute help Canada promote peace, harmony and compassion. The Senator recognized Member of Ontario Provincial Parliament, Cheri DiNovo, who is leading the Ontario Parliamentary Friends of Tibet. Senator DiNino himself heads the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet in the Canadian National Parliament.

The Senator concluded that the wind of awakening is blowing in China and the same is happening in Canada. He said the dialogue between the Tibetans and the Chinese will bear fruit.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, in his remarks, offered his warm and affectionate greetings. He recognized Mr. Gerard Kennedy, who represents Parkdale area in Toronto (that has a sizable Tibetan population) in the Parliament. Mr. Ignatieff acknowledged the contribution of the Tibetan Canadian’s contribution to the culture and spiritual life of Canada.  He expressed his appreciation, on behalf of all Canadians, of His Holiness’s tenacity, courage, human warmth, smile, and sense of humor, which he said was an inspiration to all Canadians.

Toronto Mayor David Miller officially welcomed His Holiness back to the city and also recognized the Deputy Mayor and several city councilors who were present at the ceremony.  He then presented His Holiness with the Key to the City for being a true friend of the city of Toronto.

Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche offered the gratitude of the Central Tibetan Administration to the people and the government of Canada and said Canada is a genuine multicultural nation.  He said the dream of the Tibetan community was becoming a reality on account of the support of people like Senator DiNino and others and urged them to continue their support.

In his remarks, His Holiness expressed his gratitude to the Canadian Government, federal, provincial and local, for supporting the Tibetan people for a long time. He added that when help comes to people at a time when they are passing through a difficult period, it is precious.  He said that we will never forget the assistance.  His Holiness said supporters of Tibet are not necessarily pro-Tibet but pro-justice.

His Holiness talked about the effort of the Tibetan people in exile to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist culture, which is essentially a culture of peace and nonviolence.  He said in Tibet the situation is difficult and if it continues in that manner there is a danger that Tibetan culture may not survive.  He said that although the spirit of the Tibetans in Tibet was strong, without freedom, it would be difficult to preserve the culture.

His Holiness suggested that the Centre in Toronto can be useful in undertaking activities that promoted religious harmony and human values.  He also talked about his ongoing dialogue with scientists and thought that the Centre could also be a place where there could be exchanges between scholars.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets with members of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet in Toronto on October 23rd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness concluded by thanking the Toronto Mayor for the Key to the City adding that by giving the key to him, His Holiness took it to mean that he should be opening his mind to study Canada’s economic, political and other situations.

Following lunch, His Holiness first met with editors of the Toronto Star who have requested him to be the guest editor of their edition for October 24, 2010. His Holiness chose the cover page from the choices presented to him and also answered some questions collected from the readers.  His Holiness gave his view on the plight of the displaced people and also on some of the reasons why he believes in reincarnation.

His Holiness then had a brief discussion with representatives of various faiths in the Toronto area.  His Holiness thereafter met with some members of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet and discussed with them issues relating to the Tibetan issue and the role that the parliamentarian friends could play.

His Holiness then addressed the Tibetan community. He spoke about the importance of preserving the traditional Tibetan values of goodness that have endeared the Tibetan people to the rest of the world.  He said that there was a risk of this degenerating.

Members of the Tibetan Community listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Toronto on October 23rd, 2010.
Photo/Sonam Zoksang

He also emphasized the importance of being a 21st century Buddhist and really understanding its tenets.  His Holiness related his own commitments at promotion of religious harmony and human values and how there is a new interest in Buddhism among scientists. He mentioned the research being undertaken by scientists in the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Stanford University and Emory University.

His Holiness addressed the clergy by saying that they should really be sincere and honest in their propagation of Buddhism and not to become fake lamas. He said he has heard reports from Tibet about how some Tibetans were posing as Dharma Raja (religious king) and duping the Chinese believers.

Following the Tibetan audience, His Holiness returned to the hotel where he first gave a brief interview to Fairchild TV, a Chinese language TV program in Canada.

Thereafter, His Holiness addressed the participants of a dialogue between members of the Chinese and Tibetan communities under the theme “Compassion and Respect.” Ms. Gloria Fung and Mr. Norbu Tsering made initial remarks on behalf of the Chinese and Tibetan communities respectively.  They said that this conference was a follow up to a previous similar conference held in Vancouver, BC to enhance mutual understanding to promote a fair resolution of the Tibetan problem. Thereafter, His Holiness addressed the gathering of around 200 Chinese.

Thereafter, Senator Consiglio DiNino spoke and said that this was an incredible wonderful event and symbolizes Canada.

His Holiness then addressed the gathering.  He told the Chinese about his three commitments of promoting religious harmony, human values and resolution of the Tibetan problem.  He talked about his support for President Hu Jintao’s harmonious society but said that this has to come about through trust and equality.

He talked about the Chinese propaganda and the blockage of news in China and the censorship.  Therefore, he said that people to people contact between Chinese and the Tibetans was important as this can help in resolving the Tibetan problem.

His Holiness talked about his efforts to  reach out to Chinese people since 30 or 40 years ago but did not receive much of a  response until after the Tiananmen crisis.  He added that after the 2008 crisis in Tibet more and more Chinese have started paying attention to the Tibetan issue and there have been over 1,000 articles by Chinese writers since then that supported the Tibetan efforts.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama participates in a dialogue between members of the Chinese and Tibetan communities under the theme “Compassion and Respect.” in Toronto on October 23rd, 2010. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness said as the gathering had heard from his Special Envoy Lodi Gyari about the Tibetan dialogue process earlier in the day, he had nothing more to add on this.  He explained his Middle Way Approach and how some Tibetans, including his brother Taktser Rinpoche and others, have been critical of his approach. His Holiness explained why it was in the Tibetan interest not to seek separation from the People’s Republic of China.

His Holiness mentioned the Tibetan democratization process and how there is now an elected political leadership since 2001. He mentioned his status as being semi-retired and that he was looking forward to total retirement.

His Holiness then invited the gathering to ask him questions.  In response to a query on when he would be retiring fully, His Holiness said the people should wait for some months and they would have some clarity on this. His Holiness clarified that even if he was fully retired he would continue to work on his two commitments of promoting human values and religious harmony.  In response to when he would be visiting Tibet, His Holiness talked about his efforts at visiting Tibet as well as going on pilgrimage in China from around 1983 and not having received any positive response. He said that going by the current attitude of the United Front it is was from their attitude to level the charge of fighting for Tibetan independence on him, despite the whole world knowing he was not seeking separation, that they did not want to allow him to visit China.  His Holiness said the answer to when he would visit Tibet lay with the Chinese Government.

In response to a question on the relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, His Holiness first said that we call it the Central Tibetan Administration. He said the direct election by the Tibetans of the political leadership since 2001 indicated the end of the Dalai Lama being a political head.  He also said that he was for complete separation of church and state. He also said if he may say something, he thought there needs to be separation between the Communist Party and the Chinese Government.

His Holiness also said China seemed to be feeling insecure and having trust deficit in its relations with other countries, be it Japan, India or the West. Referring to the official attitude to Liu Xiaobo, His Holiness said there is no need for China to feel that one individual can topple the government. He said during the Iraq wars thousands of people marched in the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries. They were allowed to exercise their freedom of expression.

His Holiness said that when he talked about the Chinese Communist Party needing to change he was not saying there needs to be overnight democratization.  China is a vast country, its economic and other conditions, including the fact that many people are uneducated and economically not well off meant that they would not be able to democratize all at once.  His Holiness said that just as he was retiring gradually, he felt that the Chinese Communist Party could also change gradually, with respect.

As His Holiness left the venue, many of the Chinese present wanted to speak to him personally and to acknowledge him.  Among the media representatives covering this session was a correspondent of China’s official news agency, Xinhua.

On October 24, 2010, the Tibetan community is offering Tenshug (long life offering) to His Holiness.  He will also be giving a teaching on the eight verses of Training the Mind by Geshe Langri Thangpa.

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