NDTV: Tracy Chrisman from England, if you can identify yourself, there is a question from Tracy... yes go ahead...
Tracy: My question was regarding the selection process of future Dalai Lamas, do you think that the traditional process will still continue given that what is happening in China about the Panchin Lama?
NDTV: Given that you appointed the Panchin Lama and the Chinese appointed someone else, what will happen to your succession and what if China appoints somebody as the next Dalai Lama?
The Dalai Lama: Unfortunately those Chinese Communist are hardliners, they are quite expert in creating unnecessary problems, look now there are 2 Panchen Lama, one official Panchen Lama, and the other Panchen Lama of Tibetan heart, so all these things create more complications, more resentment with Chinese government, they still seem to have learnt these things, say if I die within this year, the Chinese would choose one boy as a Lama whose parents are more loyal to Chinese Communists, so that's one official Dalai Lama, but if it means including Tibetans or the Himalayan range people, they also have direct contact with the Dalai Lama institution, then also Mongolian, nowadays you see in other countries, there are people who sort of follow Tibetan and Buddhist religion, so if all these concerned people want to have a Dalai Lama re-incarnation, then they will choose.
NDTV: What is your mind your Holiness about choosing a successor, I know I am taking the same risk as the New York Times reporter but please don't get angry, what is your mind? Would you like to see someone appointed in your life time?
The Dalai Lama: I am not much concerned about these things. As I have expressed Chinese Communists seem to be more concerned about the Dalai Lama institution than me... political reason of course, silly thinking, and that's the matter. And at a practical level, no hurry, I am quite healthy, if I don't commit suicide then otherwise my body is very healthy, another 10 -20 years I can... no problem, maybe 30 years...
NDTV: One of our last questions now, Katherine Schwitz, Catherine are you there? Yes?
Katherine: Just to let you know, your Holiness, first of all Happy Birthday, just, just 10-20 years?... please stay for another 75 years.
NDTV: Not just 10-20 years, stay with us for another 75 years.
The Dalai Lama: Oh that's a little long I think, it might be a little impossible, maybe a 100 years.
NDTV: A century mark.
The Dalai Lama: Recently I met the former President of India, a great scientist...
NDTV: Abdul Kalam.
The Dalai Lama: He mentioned that his father, when he passed away was 103, also I found in Tibetan settlements, I met Tibetans last year, two years back I think, I met these Tibetans who said their ages were 103, 104, like that, so it is possible now, so up to 105, 110 may be possible, some people say, some prediction by some Tibetan masters some 200 years ago, it was a prediction related to me, in that prediction it said that the person's longevity was 113, and in the early 60s I had a dream which indicated that my life span was 113, and 2 years back I received this prediction, both were same, also after confirming with my doctors after surgery, so I tell this story in large gatherings where there are a lot of people, sometimes some people in the audience believe that the Dalai Lama has some kind of a healing power, and as far as that is concerned, 2008 I think in October, I went through surgery, so that scientifically proves that Dalai Lama has no healing power, I think it's quite clear.
NDTV: I think you are the only spiritual leader who is honest enough to say that otherwise many godmen parade that they have healing powers.
The Dalai Lama: So you see, after they checked my body post the surgery, one specialist described as me as a young patient, so I told him that I am not a young patient, I was 73 then, then he said that he knew my age but my body condition was in the 60s, that's why he called me a young patient.
NDTV: Well may it always stay that way, you had to ask a question, go ahead.
Katherine: Your Holiness, there has been some discussion about full ordination of nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and there are some obstacles to this which you your holiness had described in a conference in Hamburg in 2007 as old fashioned thinking in the society that they wouldn't accept this for nuns, last year your Holiness said that you might be reincarnated as a woman and the Dalai Lama would be a woman, so how does your Holiness think that the Tibetan society would accept a female Dalai Lama when they are having trouble accepting fully ordained nuns?
The Dalai Lama: This question is not that way in meaning, you see the Bhikkhunis, the highest ordination of Buddhist nuns, there is some hesitation, not due to public reluctance, the public of course, the Budhha himself gave the same right, to bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, so everybody has the right to achieve that, the question is now technical, the vinaya vow must be followed according to the rinaya rules, so there are some problems at the technical level, so if the next reincarnation is deemed more effective if female through the spiritual traditions and spiritual ways, I have no problem.
NDTV: So your successor could be a woman? Okay Swati, next question, if we can get you the mike please...
Swati: Happy Birthday your Holiness, I am a psychologist by profession from Dharamshala, my question is how do you deal with the conflicts and confusions of the young Tibetan minds, who are growing up in India with worldly ambitions and desires?
NDTV: Because some of them have never even been to Tibet, born in India, rooted there..
The Dalai Lama: I think, generally, Tibetan cultural heritage, Tibetan Buddhist teachings, everybody considers it like their dearest mother, so that kind of feeling makes tremendous difference. Some Tibetans including my late physician, and many other companions died through torture, starvation, but most people including him had a mental state that was very calm. At one of our such meetings where we were discussing mental calmness I mentioned these things, so some scientists actually examined these people, and they were surprised, they told me that these people have gone through great risks including risks of life but their mind are very calm, and one particular monk, now his age is 93, he had the opportunity to come over here and join this monastery in the 80s. We happened to be talking one day and he mentioned that during those 18-19 years in the Chinese gulakhs, he faced danger and to which I asked what kind of danger, he said, danger of losing compassion towards the Chinese. So people have that kind of attitude. It's very important to keep compassion towards a perpetrator, so deliberately by keeping it that way, their mental state is calm. Now Tibetan of the younger generation, who are born in this country with a Tibet like atmosphere, still think much more like Tibetans, those Tibetans who have grown up in Tibet have grown up in a much more intense situations, violent situations etc. Some local Indians sometimes in Kulu Manali, they expressed anger. The previous generation of Tibetans, 1000s were making roads, see those Tibetans were very gentle, very peaceful. Nowadays, the young Tibetans behave differently, they are okay with that, even the people of Dharamshala are okay with it.
NDTV: They are all nodding in agreement.
The Dalai Lama: These are signs of degenerating Tibetan culture heritage inside Tibet, so now here Tibetans who bring up a Tibetan community are comparatively still better, but we still need a lot of work. One, in the early 60s, with immense help from the Indian government and Pandit Nehru himself took the responsibility of providing proper education to the young Tibetans, and all expenses met by Indian government, the Indian government has created a special committee for Tibetan schools to be built separately, all this aiming to preserver Tibetan culture , Tibetan spirituality but of course education according to the normal Indian education, so some people have to question, whether the existing education system, Indian education system is really suitable or not. Some question marks there. India's own traditional education system there that may be more like the monastery but the present education system was introduced by British colonists, more and more also people are now questioning the modern education system. It's not adequate regarding warm heartedness or moral principles because 1000 years ago when this education systems started, then these moral ethics were taken care of by the Church. Now as time passes, the church influence has reduced, the family values also reduced so the education system alone has to take both education for brain and for warm heartedness, so now you see even in India it is questionable, in fact during Indira Gandhi ji, I had some lengthy discussions then I mentioned the Himalayan range, this area, the education system should have more of research work so then Indira Gandhi ji appointed three professors from some university in Delhi, then soon after she was assassinated, so we need some research work, hope to introduce in Tibetan and Indian school also, education about moral ethics, without touching religion. Then India is a multi-religious country. So one religion is difficult. So a common sort of practice, love, compassion, forgiveness, these are common to every religion. And for non believers also. Now through scientific findings and also common sense, warm heartedness is the key factor for a happy family, happy community. After all we are social animal. So there must be some force emotionally to bring us together. Hating each other, how can develop general cooperation. So social animal must cooperate. So general principle is based on trust, friendship. Friendship is based on trust. So trust is very much related to warmheartedness. If you have extreme self centered attitude there is possibility to develop thinking how to exploit it, how to bully this, how to cheat this. If you have warm heartedness, all members of society respect their rights, develop a sense of concern for their well being. So there is no room for cheating, for exploitation like that. So these are the secular ethics without attaching religion. That way I think this country can easily develop. So we are working on it and discussing with a number of scientists and educationists. The younger people in India have more desire for money. So there is corruption also. Although this country is comparatively better. But still corruption exists. So these are the signs of lack of moral principles. So few religious leaders are talking about moral principles that it may not have reached the masses. Now we must introduce in education since kindergarten about moral principle without touching religion. That's a secular sort of moral ethics.
NDTV: I want to end with one of your friends Professor Chaman Lal Gupta, will like to share a personal story with us like Mr Sharma, we want to know things that we don't know already.
Chaman Lal Gupta: I came in contact with his Holiness in 1999 for the first time. It was his birthday, and we came to him from Bharatidas Sahiyog Math and after having talks with him, I asked him how is it that you are a Buddhist but you are also a strong believer in ahimsa or non violence, yet you consume meat like others, how do you correlate this situation? And secondly I asked him , what are your shortcomings? He said two - my love for watches and second imitating. While going out he caught hold of my arm and asked the photographer to photograph us , and I still have that photograph with me in my study and it is the most precious treasure that I have in my life.
NDTV: Your Holiness, do you still think that meat eating and watches are your only 2 flaws? And as flaws go they are pretty innocent.
The Dalai Lama: My eyes are fond of watches, they are one of my weaknesses. I have several watches but this watch is truly exploited because my friends in America, India, Japan and everywhere else, when I have visited some institution they have given me a present. My first present a watch that I got was from President Roosevelt, 1942, I was then 7 year old. Here is a strange story - with that watch and a silver mat, and a letter - as a 7 year old boy, no interest in that letter, only interested in that watch, I put the silver mat on a small pond, it sank and that was shameful. As soon as I got information about a delegation, Major Tolstoy and another friend, when the British mission reached Lhasa, I got the information through foreign ministry officials that they had reached, then I was told about the watch, then before a formal meeting I said bring the watch... how bad, is it? That boy had too much greed, the letter I never saw till my meeting with Obama this time, he kindly copied that original letter for me, since 1942, till 2010, 70 years later, I saw the letter.
NDTV: Did Obama give you a watch?
The Dalai Lama: No, this watch came recntly in a parcel from America. Then about taking meat, there are some contardictions but in vinaya no prohibition in eating meat, so monks in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, they take both veg and non veg food. One time I asked, discussed this subject with a monk from Sri Lanka about 40 years ago, he said Buddhist monks are neither veg nor non veg... he should accept whatever he gets, so that's the principle. But vinaya clearly mentions that meat which was purposely killed for you was not to be eaten but in general was not prohibited, some books like langaavatarasutra prohibited any kind of meat, including fish etc but some other texts not prohibiting, so different case, I think practically in northern part of Tibet, no vegetables. Very difficult. So that's practical reason. However, my age, about 13, 14, all Tibetan official festival, offered a lot of meat - I changed all to vegetarian food. Then, in 59 come to India. Around 65, I became a vegetarian.
The Dalai Lama: Better. Philosophical reason. 20 months I remained strict vegetarian. At that time I took advice from some of my Indian friends about the substitutes of meat. Lot of milk, cream and ...then in 67 I developed gall bladder, hepatitis. So my whole body became yellow. So at that time I become like living Buddha. Whole body yellow. Nails also yellow. It remained I think for about 3 weeks. So Tibetan physician, as well as allopathic physician advised me to take meat. So back to original diet. Meantime, all our monasteries in south India, also Namgyal monastery, common kitchen, serve only vegetarian food. In south India monasteries, population 300-400, all vegetarian food. Also in foreign countries when I visit Buddhist centers I always ask them. Now it is up to the individual. But as a society, as a institution, when they give some sort of a festival, it must be vegetarian. That business started the gall bladder trouble. Finally, surgery. So that's the background. So my own case, meat once or twice a week, otherwise vegetarian. So I tried to become a vegetarian but still difficult. I think it's useful to know the whole background.
NDTV: Any regrets?
The Dalai Lama: Small small things almost everyday. Like right here, too hot. So this garment, maybe a thinner one maybe nice. Then one occasion in Delhi some business meeting, again same question. I mentioned it. Come to Delhi in a charter plane. I thought Delhi is hot. So thin cloth. But when I reached the hotel, the air conditioning was so powerful and it was very cold. So I mention this one regret. Major regret - I think during my study period, around 10 years, I was rather lazy. So I used to often tell people the way I studied at young age under threat of whip by my tutor. Very stern when I was young. He never smiled. And he kept a whip. At that time his father, my elder brother, used to study together, so 2 whips there. One normal whip, one yellow whip. Holy whip. So for holy student, holy whip is relevant. So holy whip may not bring holy pain, just ordinary pain. Therefore, I fear that whip. So that I feel little bit of regret. So still now 75, whenever I have time, I read, I study Tibetan scripts, those text written by Nagarjuna, these days I am reading another text by a disciple of Nagarjuna. So otherwise, in the political field, and some other field, since I took responsibility at 16, since then till now, on any major decision, I have no regrets.
NDTV: That in itself is extraordinary. You have lived an extraordinary life.
The Dalai Lama: I think one reason is that I am the type of person who always discusses, who always asks for opinions, including from sweepers. Now for example, in the 50's things were difficult, then some major decisions had to be taken. Besides consulting higher officials, I always asked my sweeper, my close friend, what they would feel? That I always do. So any major decision - firstly, utilise my own brain in the maximum way, look at the problem in a holistic way, and secondly, ask opinion from different people including state oracles, advisers. If I do no reach a final decision and still some dilemma exists, I also, as a Buddhist meditational, use some sort of spiritual method to investigate like the 5th Dalai Lama. So I do that. So all major decisions since I carried the responsibility since I was16 years old, if I faced some dilemma, I describe as mysterious investigation. So until now, all the major decisions, no mistake. So I feel, happy
NDTV: May you go from strength to strength...it was a pleasure meeting you.