His Holiness The Dalai Lama

                                                           

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These text and picture are published under the permission of
The Office of Tibet,
the official agency of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in London. 

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama's biography


His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born Lhamo Dhondrub on 6 July 1935, in a small village called Taktser in northeastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, His Holiness was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.

The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people. Lhamo Dhondrub was, as Dalai Lama, renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso - Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom. Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wishfulfilling Gem or simply Kundun - The Presence.

The enthronement ceremony took place on February 22, 1940 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Education in Tibet

He began his education at the age of six and completed the Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) when he was 25 in 1959. At 24, he took the preliminary examinations at each of the three monastic universities: Drepung, Sera and Ganden. The final examination was conducted in the Jokhang, Lhasa during the annual Monlam Festival of Prayer, held in the first month of every year Tibetan calendar.

Leadership Responsibilities

On November 17, 1950, His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power (head of the State and Government) after some 80,000 Peoples Liberation Army soldiers invaded Tibet. In 1954, he went to Beijing to talk peace with Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese leaders, including Chou En-lai and Deng Xiaoping. In 1956, while visiting India to attend the 2500th Buddha Jayanti Anniversary, he had a series of meetings with Prime Minister Nehru and Premier Chou about deteriorating conditions in Tibet.

His efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to Sino-Tibetan conflict were thwarted by Bejing's ruthless policy in Eastern Tibet, which ignited a popular uprising and resistance. This resistance movement spread to other parts of the country. On 10 March 1959 the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, exploded with the largest demonstration in Tibetan history, calling on China to leave Tibet and reaffirming Tibet's independence. The Tibetan National Uprising was brutally crushed by the Chinese army. His Holiness escaped to India where he was given political asylum. Some 80,000 Tibetan refugees followed His Holiness into exile. Today, there are more than 120,000 Tibetan in exile. Since 1960, he has resided in Dharamsala, India, known as "Little Lhasa," the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.

In the early years of exile, His Holiness appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet, resulting in three resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961, and 1965, calling on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans and their desire for self-determination. With the newly constituted Tibetan Government-in-exile, His Holiness saw that his immediate and urgent task was to save the both the Tibetan exiles and their culture alike. Tibetan refugees were rehabilitated in agricultural settlements. Economic development was promoted and the creation of a Tibetan educational system was established to raise refugee children with full knowledge of their language, history, religion and culture. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was established in 1959, while the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies became a university for Tibetans in India. Over 200 monasteries have been re-established to preserve the vast corpus of Tibetan Buddhist teachings, the essence of the Tibetan way of life.

In 1963, His Holiness promulgated a democratic constitution, based on Buddhist principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a model for a future free Tibet. Today, members of the Tibetan parliament are elected directly by the people. The members of the Tibetan Cabinet are elected by the parliament, making the Cabinet answerable to the Parliament. His Holiness has continuously emphasized the need to further democratise the Tibetan administration and has publicly declared that once Tibet regains her independence he will not hold political office.

In Washington, D.C., at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1987, he proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan as a first step toward resolving the future status of Tibet. This plan calls for the designation of Tibet as a zone of peace, an end to the massive transfer of ethnic Chinese into Tibet, restoration of fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms, and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for nuclear weapons production and the dumping of nuclear waste, as well as urging "earnest negotiations" on the future of Tibet.

In Strasbourg, France, on 15 June 1988, he elaborated the Five-Point Peace Plan and proposed the creation of a self-governing democratic Tibet, "in association with the People's Republic of China."

On 2 September 1991, the Tibetan Government-in-exile declared the Strasbourg Proposal invalid because of the closed and negative attitude of the present Chinese leadership towards the ideas expressed in the proposal.

On 9 October 1991, during an address at Yale University in the United States, His Holiness said that he wanted to visit Tibet to personally assess the political situation. He said, "I am extremely anxious that, in this explosive situation, violence may break out. I want to do what I can to prevent this.... My visit would be a new opportunity to promote understanding and create a basis for a negotiated solution."

Contact with West and East

Since 1967, His Holiness initiated a series of journeys which have taken him to some 46 nations. In autumn of 1991, he visited the Baltic States at the invitation of Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis of Lithuania and became the first foreign leader to address the Lithuanian Parliament. His Holiness met with the late Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973. At a press conference in Rome in 1980, he outlined his hopes for the meeting with John Paul II: "We live in a period of great crisis, a period of troubling world developments. It is not possible to find peace in the soul without security and harmony between peoples. For this reason, I look forward with faith and hope to my meeting with the Holy Father; to an exchange of ideas and feelings, and to his suggestions, so as to open the door to a progressive pacification between peoples." His Holiness met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988 and 1990. In 1981, His Holiness talked with Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, and with other leaders of the Anglican Church in London. He also met with leaders of the Roman Catholic and Jewish communities and spoke at an interfaith service held in his honor by the World Congress of Faiths: "I always believe that it is much better to have a variety of religions, a variety of philosophies, rather than one single religion or philosophy. This is necessary because of the different mental dispositions of each human being. Each religion has certain unique ideas or techniques, and learning about them can only enrich one's own faith."

Recognition and Awards

Since his first visit to the west in the early 1973, a number of western universities and institutions have conferred Peace Awards and honorary Doctorate Degrees in recognition of His Holiness' distinguished writings in Buddhist philosophy and for his leadership in the solution of international conflicts, human rights issues and global environmental problems. In presenting the Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Human Rights Award in 1989, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos said, "His Holiness the Dalai Lama's courageous struggle has distinguished him as a leading proponent of human rights and world peace. His ongoing efforts to end the suffering of the Tibetan people through peaceful negotiations and reconciliation have required enormous courage and sacrifice."

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award the 1989 Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama won worldwide praise and applause, with exception of China. The Committee’s citation read, "The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people."

On 10 December 1989, His Holiness accepted the prize on the behalf of oppressed everywhere and all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace and the people of Tibet. In his remarks he said, "The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated. Our struggle must remain nonviolent and free of hatred."

He also had a message of encouragement for the student-led democracy movement in China. "In China the popular movement for democracy was crushed by brutal force in June this year. But I do not believe the demonstrations were in vain, because the spirit of freedom was rekindled among the Chinese people and China cannot escape the impact of this spirit of freedom sweeping in many parts of the world. The brave students and their supporters showed the Chinese leadership and the world the human face of that great nations."

A Simple Buddhist monk

His Holiness often says, "I am just a simple Buddhist monk - no more, nor less."

His Holiness follows the life of Buddhist monk. Living in a small cottage in Dharamsala, he rises at 4 A.M. to meditate, pursues an ongoing schedule of administrative meetings, private audiences and religious teachings and ceremonies. He concludes each day with further prayer before retiring. In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favorite verse, found in the writings of the renowned eighth century Buddhist saint Shantideva:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.


Discovery of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama


His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born in a peasant family on July 6th, 1935, in a small village called Taktser in north eastern Tibet. His Holiness was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama.

When the 13th Dalai Lama passed away in 1935, the task that confronted the Tibetan Government was not simply to appoint a successor but to search for and discover a child in whom the Buddha of Compassion would incarnate.

In 1935 the Regent of Tibet went to the sacred lake of Lhamo Lhatso at Chokhorgyal, about 90 miles south east of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. For centuries the Tibetans had observed that visions of the future could be seen in this lake. The Regent had a vision of three Tibetan letters, Ah, Ka, and Ma, followed by a picture of a monastery with roofs of jade green and gold, and a house with turquoise tiles. In 1937 high lamas and dignitaries carrying the secrets of the vision were sent to all parts of Tibet in search of the place that the Regent had seen in the waters. The search party that headed east was under the leadership of Lama Kewtsang Rinpoche of Sera Monastery. When they arrived in Amdo, they found a place matching the description of the secret vision. The party went to the house with Kewtsang Rinpoche disguised as the servant, and junior official Lobsang Tsewang disguised as the leader. The Rinpoche was wearing a rosary that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama, and the little boy of the house recognised it and demanded that it be given to him. Kewtsang Rinpoche promised to give it to him if he could guess who he was, and the boy replied that he was "Sera aga", which means in the local dialect "a lama of Sera". Then the Rinpoche asked who the leader was and the boy gave his name correctly; he also knew the name of the real servant. This was followed by a series of tests that included the choosing of correct articles that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama.

With these tests they were further convinced that the reincarnation had been found and their conviction was enhanced by the significance of the three letters that had been seen in the lake of Lhamo Lhatso: Ah could stand for Amdo, the name of the province; Ka for Kumbum, one of the largest monasteries in the neighbourhood; and the two letters Ka and Ma for the monastery of Karma Rolpai Dorje on the mountain above the village. In 1940 the XIVth Dalai Lama was enthroned.



Dalai's reincarnation will not be found under Chinese control


Indian Express
July 6, 1999

DHARAMSHALA: The Dalai Lama, who turns 64 today, says if his successor is chosen in the traditional way, then his reincarnation would not appear in Tibet or areas under Chinese control. "Should people prefer the old system of choosing a reincarnation -- then Dalai Lama's reincarnation will appear in a free country, and not in Chinese hand as the purpose of a reincarnation is to carry the work started by the previous life and yet not fulfilled," reports PTI.

"Logically," he says, "the previous life escaped from Chinese hands so the next life should also be out of Chinese control." On being asked how he would like the next Dalai Lama to be installed and what changes would be beneficial to the system so that a power struggle does not break out after him, the Dalai Lama said as early as 1969 he had made it clear that it was for the Tibetans to decide whether the institution of the Dalai Lama `should continue or not'.

"It is beyond my sort of responsibility," he says, "there is a possibility and there are different options -- one is based on the system of choosing pope's succesor, another based on seniority, and then the traditional approach of choosing the reincarnation."

Recently, however, Tao Changsong, deputy director of the Tibetan Contemporary Research Centre, Lhasa, who advises the Chinese government on Tibetan policy told " South China Morning Post", a leading Hong Kong paper, the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama would not be chosen among `foreigners'.



His Holiness the Dalai Lama's nobel lecture
University Aula, Oslo, December 11th, 1989



Brothers and Sisters,

It is an honor and pleasure to be among you today. I am really happy to see so many old friends who have come from different corners of the world, and to make new friends, whom 1 hope to meet again in the future. When I meet people in different parts of the world, I am always reminded that we are all basically alike: we are all human beings. Maybe we have different Clothes, our skin is of a different colour, or we speak different languages. That is on the surface. But basically, we are the same human beings. That is what binds us to each other. That is what makes it Possible for us to understand each other and to develop friendship and Closeness.

Thinking over what I might say today, I decided to share with you some of my thoughts concerning the common problems all of us face as members of the human family. Because we all share this small Planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity. We are dependent on each other in so many ways that we can no longer live in isolated Communities and ignore what is happening outside those communities. We need to help each other when we have difficulties, and we must share the good fortune that we enjoy. 1 speak to you as just another human being; as a Simple monk. If you find what I say useful, then I hope you will try"' to practice it.

I also wish to share with you today my feelings concerning the plight and aspirations of the people of Tibet, The Nobel Prize is a prize they well deserve for their courage and unfailing determination during the past forty years of foreign occupation. As a free spokesman for my captive countrymen and women, I feel it is my duty to speak out on their behalf. I speak without a feeling of anger or hatred towards those who are responsible for the immense suffering of our people and the destruction of our land, homes and culture. They too are human beings who struggle to find happiness and deserve our compassion. I speak to inform you of the sad situation in my country today and of the aspirations of my people, because in our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

The realization that we are all basically the same human beings, who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering, is very helpful in developing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; a warm feeling of love and compassion for others. This, in turn, is essential if we are to survive in this ever shrinking world we live in. For if we each selfishly pursue only what we believe to be in our own interest, without caring about the needs of others, we not only may end up harming others but also ourselves. This fact has become very clear during the course of this century. We know that to wage a nuclear war today for example, would be a form of suicide; or that by polluting the air or the oceans, in order to achieve some short-term benefit, we are destroying the very basis for our survival. As individuals and nations are becoming increasingly interdependent, therefore, we have no other choice than to develop what I call a sense of universal responsibility.

Today, we are truly a global family. What happens in one part of the world may affect us all. This, of course, is not only true of the negative things that happen, but is equally valid for the positive developments. We not only know what happens elsewhere, thanks to the extraordinary modern communications technology, we are also directly affected by events that occur far away. We feel a sense of sadness when children are starving in Eastern Africa. Similarly, we feel a sense of joy when a family is reunited after decades of separation by the Berlin Wall. Our crops and livestock are contaminated and our health and livelihood threatened when a nuclear accident happens miles away in another country. Our own security is enhanced when peace breaks out between warring parties in other continents.

But war or peace; the destruction or the protection of nature; the violation or promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms; poverty or material well being; the lack of moral and spiritual values or their existence and development; and the breakdown or development of human understanding, are not isolated phenomena that can be analysed and tackled independently of one another. In fact, they are very much interrelated at all levels and need to be approached with that understanding.

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. True peace with one self and with the world around us can only be achieved through the development of mental peace. The other phenomena mentioned above are similarly interrelated. Thus, for example, we see that a clean environment, wealth or democracy mean little in the face of war, especially nuclear war, and that material development is not sufficient to ensure human happiness.

Material progress is of course important for human advancement. In Tibet, we paid much too little attention to technological and economic development, and today we realize that this was a mistake. At the same time, material development without spiritual development can also cause serious problems. In some countries too much attention is paid to external things and very little importance is given to inner development. I believe both are important and must be developed side by side so as to achieve a good balance between them. Tibetans are always described by foreign visitors as being a happy, jovial people. This is part of our national character, formed by cultural and religious values that stress the importance of mental peace through the generation of love and kindness to all other living sentient beings, both human and animal. Inner peace is the key: If you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquillity. In that state of mind you can deal with situations with calmness and reason, while keeping your inner happiness. That is very important. Without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed or unhappy because of circumstances.

Clearly, it is of great importance, therefore, to understand the interrelationship among these and other phenomena, and to approach and attempt to solve problems in a balanced way that takes these different aspects into consideration. Of course it is not easy. But it is of little benefit to try to solve one problem if doing so creates an equally serious new one. So really we have no alternative: we must develop a sense of universal responsibility not only in the geographic sense, but also in respect to the different issues that confront our planet.

Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our Community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. And there are ways in which we can Consciously work to develop feelings of love and kindness. For some of us, the most effective way to do so is through religious practice. For others it may be non-religious practices. What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take our responsibility for each other and for the natural environment we live in seriously.

I am very encouraged by the developments which are taking place around us. After the young people of many countries, particularly in northern Europe have repeatedly called for an end to the dangerous destruction of the environment which was being conducted in the name of economic development, the world's political leaders are now starting to take meaningful steps to address this problem. The report to the United Nations Secretary General by the World Commission on the Environment and Development (the Brundtland report) was an important step in educating governments on the urgency of the issue. Serious efforts to bring peace to war torn zones and to implement the right to self-determination of some peoples have resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the establishment of independent Namibia Through persistent non-violent popular efforts dramatic changes, bringing many countries closer to real democracy, have occurred in many places, from Manila in the Philippines to Berlin in East Germany. With the Cold War era apparently drawing to a close, people everywhere live with renewed hope. Sadly, the courageous efforts of the Chinese people to bring similar change to their Country was brutally crushed last June. But their efforts too are a source of hope. The military might has not extinguished the desire for freedom and the determination of the Chinese people to achieve it. I particularly admire the fact that these young people who have been taught that "power flows from the barrel of the gun," chose, instead, to use non-violence as their weapon.

What these positive changes indicate, is that reason, courage, determination, and the inextinguishable desire for freedom can ultimately win. In the struggle between forces of war, violence and oppression on the one hand, and peace, reason and freedom on the other, the latter are gaining the upper hand. This realization fills us Tibetans with hope that some day we too will once again be free.

The awarding of the Nobel Prize to me, a simple monk from far away Tibet, here in Norway, also fills us Tibetans with hope. -It means that, despite the fact that we have not drawn attention to our plight by means of violence, we have not been forgotten. It also means that the values we cherish, in particular our respect for all forms of life and the belief in the power of truth, are today recognised and encouraged. It is also a tribute to my mentor, Mahatma Gandhi, whose example is an inspiration to so many of us. This year's award is an indication that this sense of universal responsibility is developing. I am deeply touched by the sincere concern shown by so many people in this part of the world for the suffering of the people of Tibet. That is a source of hope not only for us Tibetans, but for all oppressed peoples.

As you know, Tibet has, for forty years, been under foreign occupation. Today, more than a quarter of a million Chinese troops are stationed in Tibet. Some sources estimate the occupation army to be twice this strength. During this time, Tibetans have been deprived of their most basic human rights, including the right to life, movement, speech, worship, only to mention a few. More than one sixth of Tibet's population of six million died as a direct result of the Chinese invasion and occupation. Even before the Cultural Revolution started, many of Tibet's monasteries, temples and historic buildings were destroyed. Almost everything that remained was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. 1 do not wish to dwell on this point, which is well documented. What is important to realize, however, is that despite the limited freedom granted after 1979, to rebuild parts of some monasteries and other such tokens of liberalization, the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people are still today being systematically violated. In recent months this bad situation has become even worse.

If it were not for our community in exile, so generously sheltered and supported by t;he Government and people of India and helped by organizations and individuals from many parts of the world, our nation would today be little more than a shattered remnant of a people. Our culture, religion and national identity would have been effectively eliminated. As it is, we have built schools and monasteries in exile and have created democratic institutions to serve our people and preserve the seeds of our civilisation. With this experience, we intend to implement full democracy in a future free Tibet. Thus, as we develop our community in exile on modern lines, we also cherish and preserve our own identity and culture and bring hope to millions of our countrymen and women in Tibet.

The issue of most urgent concern at this time, is the massive influx of Chinese settlers into Tibet. Although in the first decades of occupation a considerable number of Chinese were transferred into the eastern parts of Tibet - in the Tibetan provinces of Amdo (Chinghai) and Kham (most of which has been annexed by neighboring Chinese provinces) since 1983 an unprecedented number of Chinese have been encouraged by their government to migrate to all parts of Tibet, including central and western Tibet (which the PRC refers to as the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region). Tibetans are rapidly being reduced to an insignificant minority in their own country. This development, which threatens the very survival of the Tibetan nation, its culture and spiritual heritage, can still be stopped and reversed. But this must be done now, before it is too late.

The new cycle of protest and violent repression which started in Tibet in September of 1987 and culminated in the imposition of martial law in the capital, Lhasa, in March of this year, was in large part a reaction to this, tremendous Chinese influx. Information reaching us in exile indicates that the protest marches and other peaceful forms of protest are continuing in Lhasa and a number of other places in Tibet, despite the severe punishment and inhumane treatment given to Tibetans detained for expressing their grievances. The number of Tibetans killed by security forces during the protests in March and of those who died in detention afterwards is not known but is believed to be more than two hundred. Thousands have been detained or arrested and imprisoned, and torture is commonplace.

It was against the background of this worsening situation and in order to prevent further bloodshed, that I proposed what is generally referred to as the Five Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. I elaborated on the plan in a speech in Strassbourg last year. I believe the plan provides a reasonable and realistic framework for negotiations with the People's Republic of China. So far, however, China's leaders have been unwilling to respond constructively. The brutal suppression of the Chinese democracy movement in June of this year, however, reinforced my view that any settlement of the Tibetan question will only be meaningful if it is supported by adequate international guarantees.

The Five Point Peace Plan addresses the principal and interrelated issues, which I referred to in the first part of this lecture. It calls for (1) Transformation of the whole of Tibet, including the eastern provinces of Kham and Amdo, into a zone of Ahimsa (non-violence); (2) Abandonment of China's population transfer policy; (3) Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms; (4) Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment; and (5) Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. In the Strasbourg address I proposed that Tibet become a fully self-governing democratic political entity.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain the Zone of Ahimsa or peace sanctuary concept, which is the central element of the Five Point Peace Plan. lam convinced that it is of great importance not only for Tibet, but for peace and stability in Asia.

It is my dream that the entire Tibetan plateau should become a free refuge where humanity and nature can live in peace and in harmonious balance. It would be a place where people from all over the world could come to seek the true meaning of peace within themselves, away from the tensions and pressures of much of the rest of the world. Tibet could indeed become a creative center for the promotion and development of peace.

The following are key elements of the proposed Zone of Ahimsa:

 

the entire Tibetan plateau would be demilitarised;

the manufacture, tasting, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and other armaments on the Tibetan plateau would be prohibited.

the Tibetan plateau would be transformed into the world's largest natural park or biosphere. Strict laws would be enforced to protect wildlife and plant life; the exploitation of natural resources would be carefully regulated so as not to damage relevant ecosystems; and a policy of sustainable development would be adopted in populated areas;

the manufacture and use of nuclear power and other technologies which produce hazardous waste would be prohibited;

national resources and policy would be directed towards the active promotion of peace and environmental protection. Organizations dedicated to the furtherance of peace and to the protection of all forms of life would find a hospitable home in Tibet;

the establishment of international and regional organisations for the promotion and protection of human rights would be encouraged in Tibet.

 

Tibet's height and size (the size of the European Community), as well as its unique history and profound spiritual heritage make it ideally suited to fulfill the role of a sanctuary of peace in the strategic heart of Asia. It would also be in keeping with Tibet's historic role as a peaceful Buddhist nation and buffer region separating the Asian continent's great and often rival powers.

In order to reduce existing tensions in Asia, the President of the Soviet Union, Mr. Gorbachev, proposed the demilitarisation of Soviet-Chinese borders and their transformation into "a frontier of peace and good-neighborliness." The Nepal government had earlier proposed that the Himalayan country of Nepal, bordering on Tibet, should become a zone of peace, although that proposal did not include demilitarisation of the Country.

For the stability and peace of Asia, it is essential to create peace zones to separate the continent's biggest powers and potential adversaries. President Gorbachev's proposal, which also included a complete Soviet troop withdrawal from Mongolia, would help to reduce tension and the potential for confrontation between the Soviet Union and China. A true peace zone must, clearly, also be created to separate the world's two most populous states, China and India.

The establishment of the Zone of Ahimsa, would require the withdrawal of troops and military installations from Tibet, which would enable India and Nepal also to withdraw troops and military installations from the Himalayan regions bordering Tibet. This would have to be achieved by international agreements. It would be in the best interest of all states in Asia, particularly China and India, as it would enhance their security, while reducing the economic burden of maintaining high troop concentrations in remote areas.

Tibet would not be the first strategic area to be demilitarised. Parts of the Sinai peninsula, the Egyptian territory separating Israel and Egypt, have been demilitarized for some time Of course, Costa Rica is the best example of an entirely demilitarised country.

Tibet would also not be the first area to be turned into a natural preserve or biosphere. Many parks have been created throughout the world. Some very strategic areas have been turned into natural "peace parks." Two examples are the La Amistad park, on the Costa Rica-Panama border and the Si A Paz project on the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border.

When I visited Costa Rica earlier this year, I saw how a country can develop successfully without an army, to become a stable democracy committed to peace and the protection of the natural environment. This confirmed my belief that my vision of Tibet in the future is a realistic plan, not merely a dream.

Let me end with a personal note of thanks to all of you and our friends who are not here today. The concern and support which you have expressed for the plight of the Tibetans has touched us all greatly, and continues to give us courage to struggle for freedom and justice; not through the use of arms, but with the powerful weapons of truth and determination. I know that I speak on behalf of all the people of Tibet when I thank you and ask you not to forget Tibet at this critical time in our country's history. We too hope to contribute to the development of a more peaceful, more humane and more beautiful world. A future ftee Tibet will seek to help those in need throughtout the world, to protect nature, and to pmmote peace. I believe that our Tibetan ability to combine spiritual qualities with a realistic and practical attitude enables us to make a special contribution, in however modest a way. This is my hope and prayer.

In conclusion, let me share with you a short prayer which gives me great inspiration and determination:

For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
Thank you.

Address to the Members of the United States Congress in the Rotunda of the Capital Hill in Washington, D.C.
by
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
18 April 1991



Mr. Speaker, Senator Mitchell, Representative Gephardt, Senator Dole and Representative Michel, Senators, Congressmen and other distinguished guests, and Brothers and Sisters:

When I was a small boy living in Tibet, President Roosevelt sent me a gift: a gold watch showing phases of the moon and the days of the week. I marvelled at the distant land which could make such a practical object so beautiful. But what truly inspired me were your ideals of freedom and democracy. I felt that your principles were identical to my own, the Buddhist beliefs in fundamental human rights - freedom, equality, tolerance and compassion for all.

Today, I am honored to stand under this great dome and speak to you. I do so as a simple Buddhist monk: someone who tries to follow the Buddha's teaching of love and compassion, who believes, as you do, that all of us have the right to pursue happiness and avoid suffering. I always pray that the good core of our human character - which cherishes truth, peace and freedom - will prevail.

Our generation has arrived at the threshold of a new era in human history: the birth of a global community. Modern communications, trade and international relations as well as the security and environmental dilemmas we all face make us increasingly interdependent. No one can live in isolation. Thus, whether we like it or not, our vast and diverse human family must finally learn to live together. Individually and collectively we must assume a greater sense of universal responsibility.

While your soldiers were fighting Communist Chinese troops in Korea, China invaded Tibet. Almost nine years later, in March, 1959 - during the suppression of a nation-wide revolt against Chinese occupation - I was forced to flee to India. Eventually, many thousands of my compatriots followed me. Since then, Tibetan refugees have lived in exile. We were heartened in 1959, 1961 and 1965 by three United Nations Resolutions recognizing the Tibetan people's fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination. Your government supported and voted for these resolutions. China, however, ignored the views of the world community. For almost three decades, Tibet was sealed from the outside world. In that time, as a result of China's efforts to remake our society, 1.2 million Tibetans - one fifth of the population - perished. More than 6,000 of our monasteries and temples were destroyed. Our natural resources were devoured. And in a few short decades the artistic, literary and scientific legacy of our ancient civilization was virtually erased.

In the face of this tragedy, we have tried to save our national identity. We have fought for our country's freedom peacefully. We have refused to adopt terrorism. We have adhered to our Buddhist faith in non-violence. And we have engaged in a vigorous democratic experiment in the exile community as a model for a future free Tibet.

Tibet today continues to suffer harsh oppression. The unending cycle of imprisonment, torture, and executions continues unabated. I am particularly concerned about China's long term policy of population transfer onto the Tibetan plateau.

Tibet is being colonized by waves of Chinese immigrants. We are becoming a minority in our own country. The new Chinese settlers have created an alternate society: a Chinese apartheid which, denying Tibetans equal social and economic status in our own land, threatens to finally overwhelm and absorb us. The immediate result has been a round of unrest and reprisal. In the face of this critical situation, I have made two proposals in recent years.

In September of 1987, here on Capitol Hill, I presented a Five Point Peace Plan. In it, I called for negotiations between Tibet and China, and spoke of my firm resolve that soon Tibet will once again become a Zone of Peace; a neutral, demilitarized sanctuary where humanity and nature live in harmony. In June of 1988, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, I elaborated on my call for negotiations, and made personal suggestions which would protect the territorial integrity of the whole of Tibet, as well as restore the Tibetan people's right to govern themselves. I also suggested that China could retain overall responsibility for the conduct of Tibet's foreign relations.

It has been almost three years since the Strasbourg Proposal. In that time, many Tibetans have expressed profound misgivings over my stand for being too conciliatory. Beijing did respond: but the response was negative. The Chinese government, it is clear, is unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue. As recent events in China itself indicate, the Communist leadership refuses even to acknowledge the wishes of its own people. I regret that my sincere efforts to find a mutually beneficial solution have not produced meaningful dialogue. Nevertheless, I continue to believe in a negotiated solution. Many governments and parliaments, as well as the U.S. Congress, support this effort.

For the sake of the people of China as well as Tibet, a stronger stand is needed towards the government of the People's Republic of China. The policy of `constructive engagement,' as a means to encourage moderation, can have no concrete effect unless the democracies of the world clearly stand by their principles. Linking bilateral relations to human rights and democracy is not merely a matter of appeasing one's own conscience. It is a proven, peaceful and effective means to encourage genuine change. If the world truly hopes to see a reduction of tyranny in China, it must not appease China's leaders.

Linking bilateral relations to respect for basic rights will significantly decrease the present regime's readiness to resort to further violence, while increasing the strength of the moderate forces which still hope for a peaceful transition to a more open society. These efforts should be viewed not as an attempt to isolate China but as a helping hand to bring her into the mainstream of the world community.

In the future, I envision Tibet as an anchor of peace and stability at the heart of Asia: a zone of non-violence where humanity and nature live in harmony. For hundreds of years the Tibetan plateau was a vital buffer between Asia's great powers: Russia, China and India. Until Tibet is once more demilitarized and restored to its historical neutrality, there can be no firm foundation for peace in Asia. The first step is to recognize the truth of my country's status; that of a nation under foreign occupation.

Recently, the United States has led the international community in freeing a small country from a cruel occupation. I am happy for the people of Kuwait. Sadly, all small nations can not expect similar support for their rights and freedoms. However, I believe that a "new world order" cannot truly emerge unless it is matched by a "new world freedom." Order without freedom is repression. Freedom without order is anarchy. We need both a new world order that prohibits aggression and a new world freedom that supports the liberty individuals and nations.

I would like to conclude by recalling a recent and moving experience. On my last trip to the United States, I was taken to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I was profoundly inspired to stand in the chamber from which your Declaration of Independence and Constitution came . I was then shown to the main floor before the Liberty Bell. My guide explained that two hundred years ago this bell pealed forth to proclaim liberty throughout your land. On examining it, however, I couldn't help noticing the crack in the bell. That crack, I feel, is a reminder to the American people who enjoy so much freedom , while people in other parts of the world, such as Tibet, have no freedom:. The Liberty Bell is a reminder that you cannot be truly free until people everywhere are free. I believe that this reminder is alive, and that your great strength continues to come from your deep principles.

Finally, my main task here today is to thank you - the Congress of the United States - on behalf of six million Tibetans for your invaluable support in a critical time of our struggle. The Congressional bills and resolutions you have passed over the last five years have given the Tibetan people renewed hope.

I offer you my prayers and thanks, and I appeal to you to continue working for the cause of liberty .

Thank you.

-v