My reincarnation can’t be born in place with no freedom: The Dalai Lama
Asked if a world without organised violence is possible, Dalai Lama replied, “theoretically, it is possible.”
THE DALAI Lama has said that he will die in India, and his reincarnation cannot be recognised in an environment which does not have freedom — a clear reference to China. The topic of reincarnation has been a burning issue, since China considers the spiritual leader as a “splittist”, a charge denied by the 14th Dalai Lama.
Speaking at the Express Adda on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama held forth on a variety of questions — preservation of Tibetan culture, a world without violence, his commitment to vegetarianism (despite being a non-vegetarian for health reasons), the concept of analytical meditation, the relationship between religion and politics, and even, his thoughts on life on another planet.
For two-and-a-half hours on Wednesday afternoon, he captivated a packed hall and regaled the audience with his trademark humour. Asked about his reincarnation, he said, “If the situation remains like this, then I will die in this country.” While he said that it is not necessary for his reincarnation to be born in the country where he dies, he added that if the reincarnation is recognised in a place which does not have “freedom”, it would be impossible to accept that.
Asked about the future of the Dalai Lama as an institution, he said that “as early as in 1969”, he had stated that it was a decision which would have to be taken by his people. The 81-year-old, however, said that sometime back, they decided that when his age reaches around 90 years, they would have a “more serious discussion” on the issue.
Reiterating that the decision should be taken by his people, he quipped that the Chinese government was showing more seriousness. “The Chinese communists should first accept the concept of rebirth. Then communists should accept reincarnation. And then they have the moral connection to Dalai Lama’s reincarnation,” he said.
On the Chinese government describing him as a “splittist”, he denied the charge and said that he has not been seeking independence of Tibet from China since 1974. The Dalai Lama said the basic human nature is “compassion”, and people are usually against war. “People are fed up of violence,” he said, as they have “common interests”, rather than “national sovereignty”.
Asked if a world without organised violence is possible, he replied, “theoretically, it is possible.” He said he does not believe prayers bring about “peaceful society”, but the citizenry has to “work for it”. “If we meet Jesus Christ or Buddha and ask them to bring peace, they will ask us who created violence? It is human beings who have created it, they have to stop it. Work for peace… the easy thing to do is to pray,” he said.
Explaining the futility of reciting prayers without understanding their meaning, he said that the Tibetan mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum”, when chanted in a hurry, sounds like “money, money, money…” The spiritual leader of Tibetans said he does “analytical meditation” where he can see the “whole picture”. He stressed the need to focus on “training of mind” during meditation. He also reiterated his commitment to preservation of Tibetan culture and language.
While he emphasised the importance of modern education, he said that education should include the value of compassion instead of only focussing on “material values”. “Maintain peace of mind, then face remains handsome,” he quipped. Replying to a question, he said while religion has the responsibility to instill “moral principles” in politics, the “institution of religion should be separate from the State”. He said that in India, people have been living in religious harmony for years, and he renewed his commitment to promote “religious harmony”.
Saying that he was leading a “retired life” since 2011, the Dalai Lama, when asked about America under President Donald Trump, said, “I love America… consider America as leading nation of the free world.” But, on Trump, he said that it is “too early to say” and he should better keep quiet. Describing Indian traditions as his “guru” and himself as the “chela” (disciple), he said the roles had reversed now.
Asked about his opinion on extra-terrestrial life, he said he feels that there is life beyond Earth, and it is difficult to accept that only Earth can have life in the entire universe. Asked if he was troubled by reports about a man tied to a jeep being used as a human shield or people being killed in the name of cow protection, the Dalai Lama said his “nature” is positive. But, he said, in a country of more than one billion, “there must be some mischievous people”, and added that media too has a responsibility.
He promoted “vegetarianism”, although he admitted that he was a “non-vegetarian” because of health reasons. The Dalai Lama was in conversation with The Indian Express’s Executive Director Anant Goenka and National Opinion Editor Vandita Mishra. Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change.
Guests at the event in the past include Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, filmmaker Karan Johar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Niti Aayog Vice Chairperson Arvind Panagariya, writer Amitav Ghosh, cricketer Rohit Sharma, economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and, most recently, actor Saif Ali Khan.