Vancouver, Canada 9 September 2006 (TurkishPress.com) - Despite China's outspoken displeasure, several senior Canadian politicians came to this western Canadian city to meet with the Dalai Lama as the Nobel peace laureate launched a peace and education center here.
The Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel peace laureate said Vancouver was chosen as the location for the international Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education because of the multiethnic and harmonious nature of the city.
The institute, run by a board of international leaders including former US president Jimmy Carter; Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights lawyer who became the first female Nobel peace laureate; former Czech president Vaclav Havel; and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is scheduled to open in three years.
The Dalai Lama, in addition to meeting privately with federal and provincial politicians, talked on Friday with hundreds of students who packed a downtown theatre for a session on compassion and education.
'The elder generation, like myself, who belong to the 20th century, we are ready to say goodbye,' he told the group.
The Dalai Lama, wearing saffron robes, donned a red sun visor that read 'CANADA' across the brim, a gift from the students.
Smiling and laughing constantly on stage, he appeared fit and healthy despite an unspecified illness that had caused him to cancel a European tour earlier this summer.
In June, the Canadian parliament unanimously voted to award the Dalai Lama honorary Canadian citizenship, a move that angered China, which views him as a threat because China claims that the Dalai Lama wants independence for Tibet.
This week, Chinese officials in Canada objected that several Canadian politicians were meeting with the Dalai Lama and attending the Vancouver dialogue sessions linked to the launch of the peace center.
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since China took over Tibet in 1959, is widely known as Tibet's spiritual leader.
He has repeatedly said he is not seeking Tibetan independence but wants a solution, within the Chinese constitution, to what he calls Tibet's 'cultural genocide' by China.
While the controversy did not come up during the public dialogues Friday, the Dalai Lama earlier told reporters, with a chuckle: 'It seems whenever I travel somewhere, it always creates some inconvenience... So, I am very sorry. But hopefully, it is not my mistake.'
During Friday's sessions, the Dalai Lama said that every human is born naturally compassionate, from having a loving first relationship with their mothers.
But, using Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin as examples, he said basic human values like compassion can become lost in 'certain environments, then (they) develop anger, hatred, and fear ... and become tormented.'
Student Kit Sauder asked the Buddhist leader for advice on spreading wealth to poor countries.
'Material development alone is not the answer for humanity ... or the world,' said the Dalai Lama, urging spiritual as well as economic progress. 'The world needs equally important inner wealth. Just the material development (can lead to) a lack of moral responsibility and a lack of contentment.'
The Dalai Lama said that in recent centuries Europeans have been 'really trouble makers,' inventing weapons technology and responsible for colonialism, mass murder of millions of North America aboriginals and exploitation in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
'But eventually Western people through their own experience, and I think democracy, (adopted values of) religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of equality ... I think eventually Western values, these values, will (spread) in other countries,' he said.