One of the world's most revered leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the Dalai Lama spoke exclusively to NDTV. Below is the full transcript of the interview:
NDTV: Hello and welcome to this very special edition of the NDTV Dialogues, on the show with us His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is one of the world's most respected and loved spiritual leaders. He is also a Nobel Laureate for Peace and described by many as a rock star as well. He is joining us and thank you very much Your Holiness for being with us on the NDTV Dialogues.
In your 80th year it's a time when we see violence around us in the world. Terrorism is being seen as a common threat, whether it's victims in India, we've seen it in Lahore in Pakistan, in Brussels, in Ankara; are you still optimistic for world peace? Buddhism has preached peace throughout, how do you preach world peace at a time like this?
HH The Dalai Lama: Since I think the last 30 years I have serious had discussions with scientists and also some educationists and other knowledgeable people. Then some occasions the scientists they mentioned basic human nature is more compassionate. They have some reasons and I am not going to necessarily repeat the reasons. So then when I heard that I really am convinced now that basic human nature is more compassionate, therefore there is hope. If basic human nature is anger or negative emotion then no hope. And then of course I am Buddhist. So Buddhist literature particularly Nalanda tradition says all Buddha nature, all beings have Buddha nature. So that means alternative nature is positive. So therefore now I'm fully convinced if you make an effort, in a realistic way, not through prayer, not through meditation, but through education, actually today we are going to discuss about that. I think education changes the world. So now existing education system is not adequate. Present existing education mainly has external value, not internal value
NDTV: The irony is that so much of killing and bloodshed is in the name of religion. As a spiritual leader why do you think religion is being distorted across religions to justify violence? Do you think violence can be justified in terms of a Holy war in any sense?
HH The Dalai Lama: No, I consider it not. But then again we have to think. I think since human history war is part of human history including sometimes war in the name of religion but this passed. When the reality is not only continent to continent, but also seen within the continent, different people more or less are self-sufficient. There maybe fight with your neighbour, destruction of your neighbour is your victory. Today's reality has completely changed. Destruction of your neighbour is destruction of yourself, because your future depends on them. Their interest and your interest are heavily interdependent. At a global level, not only nation to nation but continent to continent, it's heavily interdependent. East world needs the West and West world needs the East. Similarly the North world and South World. That's it. And then, conditions, all these and human population much increasing. So now time has come. We have to think of humanity rather than my nation, my community. Because you see we are social animals. And any social animal like ants, bees are not necessarily intelligent but biologically they have the sense of community, work together for survival. We human beings, this marvelous intelligence, we must use this intelligence, the common sense. We should not be a slave of anger, hatred and arrogance. So therefore I think the basic human nature is compassion, being compassionate. Then this intelligence should be used for strengthening basic human nature. That is likely now to raise education system.
NDTV: When you hear words like Islamic terrorism or about in Myanmar that why are Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims there, do you think labels or religions should be attached to terror?
HH The Dalai Lama: People who follow religion they are also human beings. They also have negative sort of emotions. World sort of considers Buddha as a symbol of peace but a Buddha also sometimes creates a problem. So therefore these are religious belief, wonderful but human weakness sometimes becomes upper hand. Now for that reason that I think almost 2000-yr-old Indians practice religious harmony. It is now really we need firstly recognise this sort of Indian tradition, religious harmony. It is not only something good but this now to promote and share to the rest of the world. So therefore religious harmony, if we make a study not just emotion but use human intelligence what this religion carry what kind of philosophy then we find differences. Then we have to ask what is the purpose of the different philosophy. Same purpose to promote compassion, to bring rears of conviction about value of conviction. Concept of God, God invented Love. Merciful, so that's almost like our father. That kind of concept is very, very powerful. It is to bring inner strength and believe the value of love because our father invented love. Then other traditions like Jain philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, no creator but rather it's a self-creation. That is also a powerful sort of method to bring conviction. Future of your life depends on yourself. Therefore you should behave well. If you today you are short sighted, narrow minded, and negative emotions then consequences you have to face
NDTV: You talked Your Holiness of India's great religious tradition and India is unique in the world that every religious tradition co exists here. Does it disturb you when you hear reports of fighting among people because of communal riots in India or any communal tension in India; or even when you find there are elections, you find various political parties will raise religious issues, which are not bringing communities together but often separating them? What is your message to political leaders or when you see in India this happening, what do you feel? You have been in India for almost 60 years now
HH The Dalai Lama: Yes, Actually I think 57 years now.
NDTV: So nearly your 60th anniversary
HH The Dalai Lama: Certainly you see I quite often discover myself as a firstly a messenger of Indian ancient thought. Then secondly I consider myself as a son of India. Reason, all my cells, I think I mentioned it in my other interview, every cell of my brain filled by Indian thought. Few years ago you see, some interview I mentioned that at least over 50 years this physique survived with Indian dals, Indian rice, Indian chapati. Mentally, spiritually, physically I am a son of India. Then I think I am the longest guest of the Indian government. So therefore, I do have serious concerns about this country. Above all small pockets here and there, some problems. As a human being sometimes I also tell people India has over 1billion population, some mischievous people must be there, without that then Indians are not human beings, but God. We are human beings. Some mischievous people are always there. But overall I think pictures of this country I still believe are peaceful, comparatively, stable compared to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh. I think this country is very, very stable, very peaceful. And I think India, I think India they are the most populated democratic country still, and then also 1000, 2000 year old Indian concept of Ahimsa is still in the people's mind, even unconsciously that concept is still there. So these I feel is real basis of happy India, peaceful India and sometimes little bit of disturbance here and there and sometimes including some politicians, religious leaders, that is possible. But overall picture of India I think is very healthy. That is my view. But at the same time we should not take for granted these good things. With people especially younger generation like you must make efforts with awareness and vision in the remaining 21st century and even 22nd century, 23rd century. I think this nation can be a big contributor for world peace through practice of compassion and Ahimsa, wonderful
NDTV: You met Your Holiness Indian leaders, Indian prime ministers from Nehru to Indira Gandhi to Vajpayee to PM Modi. Has it been interesting interacting with them? What have you seen or observed about these Prime Ministers?
HH The Dalai Lama: Oh wonderful, of course elected by people. I think Pandit Nehru, Nehru time I am quite young, inexperienced but Jawaharlal Nehru gave immense help and personal sort of friendship really, and I really got useful advice, practical advice from him. Wonderful. So in anyway...
NDTV: And at a time when for India it was a big challenge to China to accept the refugees
HH The Dalai Lama: Yes
NDTV: Very traumatic time
HH The Dalai Lama: Right, right. When the Govt of India heard that Dalai Lama left Lhasa, is coming towards India then in the Cabinet some discussions, some cabinet members, later some officials from external affairs told me what happened at that time. So at that time Cabinet Minister expressed caution, except here the relation with China might be disturbed. But then Pandit Nehru responded no, we must give asylum to Dalai Lama. One of my great friends, Vajpayee ji, on one occasion I met him and I expressed he should be in the Opposition Party, so that you see, you can express what your real feelings are more freely. The government people are sometimes cautious. I told him and he smiled. Prime Minister Modi, after he become Prime Minister, I think at the international level, India has become quite a significant nation. Wonderful. Very good.
NDTV: Are you satisfied Your Holiness, you have been through the years the most visible voice for Tibet, but recently we have seen that with China and the strengths of its economy many world powers they cannot ignore China, because of the strength of its economic power. You have asked for world powers to do more for democracy in China but that hasn't really happened. Human Rights has been put on the back burner, Tibet has been put on the back burner because China becomes more and more powerful. What would you like to see the world and India perhaps do for the cause of Tibet? You yourself had talked about the middle way, middle way is not being looked at, at all. It is only the China way as regards Tibet
HH The Dalai Lama: Yes certainly China firstly most populated nation, ancient nation. Then Chinese people are very hardworking people, cultured people. The Govt changes from time to time even with the same Communist Party, their last now I think 60 years has much change. So ultimately, I often you see, express any country belongs to the people not the government, not the party. So party or government you see change, but people always remain. So as people the most populated nation, the people I really admire. Wherever I see Chinese community, whether in America, whether in Europe or previously in Calcutta also there is a big Chinese community. So wherever they live they carry their own cultural heritage and in many cases Buddhist sort of tradition. So wonderful, wonderful. China has too much censorship and then too much corruption. The President Xi Jinping himself finds quite complicated his role. I admire his sort of determination facing this corruption but still there are lot of difficulties
NDTV: You had hoped President Xi Jinping would bring change in the Tibet policy of China but that hasn't happened. You were very optimistic when President Xi took over that there may be some dialogue but that hasn't happened yet
HH The Dalai Lama: As of last few years there are some sort of mixed signals, one signal seems positive. Similarly another signal something difficult. So actually the whole system is such that, one individual, two individuals, difficult to change. There are hardliners among the establishment, number of hardliners, so sometimes Xi Jinping himself finds difficulties. So in anyway let's see. I think it is impossible to predict the future unless you have some third eye. Otherwise very difficult. Even I think someone who has a third eye cannot be 100% correct. So basically as I mentioned earlier, China is also a part of the world. The totalitarian system on this planet has not much future. Democracy, open society, freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of thought is future of the world. So therefore China also is a part of the world, it's only a question of time. We'll go that way
NDTV: Do you think, Your Holiness, you talk so passionately about being the son of India, but do you think you will ever be able to go back to Tibet? I know it's been a wish of yours for so long to see Tibet again. Are you hopeful Sir?
HH The Dalai Lama: Yes still. Although now 81 year old but I think you can judge my face, how long I will remain, I think another 10 years
NDTV: More than that we hope Your Holiness
HH The Dalai Lama: Then may be 20 years. Maybe
NDTV: Your health Your Holiness, because recently you were at the Mayo Clinic, but you are looking much, much younger and fit as all these people here, so how is your health keeping?
HH The Dalai Lama: Very good, basically excellent
NDTV: Oh that's wonderful news. So you still pray that you can go back to Tibet one day?
HH The Dalai Lama: I think so, I think so. Mainly, firstly Tibetan people I think 99% trust me. When I met some individuals I always tell, please come to see them in Tibet. Sometimes I also feel quite moved. Then similarly many Chinese Buddhists, according to some survey, number of Buddhists in China about 4 years ago one university did some survey, in their report they mentioned over 300 million are Buddhist population. Now more or less China is the most populated Buddhist populated sort of nation. So quite often these Buddhists and also some normal Chinese come to see me. These days every week some Chinese, when we meet, tears. So I think things are changing
NDTV: You are looking Your Holiness so wonderfully healthy, but every time, now in recent interviews your focus has been on your succession issue. Are you the last Dalai Lama?
HH The Dalai Lama: Possible. I do not take this seriously. At one time Dalai Lama institution comes, it worked. I think 6 centuries it worked. Now 21st century, certain systems, which developed during older time may not be useful. Firstly, since 2011 I totally retired from political responsibility. We already have elected political leadership. 2011 not only I retired, but also almost a four century-old tradition, Dalai Lama institution. I voluntarily sort of ceased that.
NDTV: That is very rare that anyone in the world gives up political powers Your Holiness, that is why you are special.
HH The Dalai Lama: The institution politically no longer is much important. Spiritually maybe, but I think the real sort of preservation of Tibetan rich knowledge about the Nalanda tradition and practice does not depend on one or two individuals or institutions, but rather study. Already in this country I think about 10,000 monks carry studies rigorously and among them the younger generation who are really now becoming good scholars, practitioners. That is the real sort of method for preservation. Institution not much important. Sometimes I jokingly tell, I also want to ask you since the Dalai Lama institution has responsibility for both, temple and spirituality, that was started by 5th Dalai Lama in 17th century or something, I as the foreign Dalai Lama voluntary ended that. So does the 5th Dalai Lama agree to that or not, I doubt. But there is no danger of re-appearance by 5th Dalai Lama, so no danger. So I think this year since it's many years I sort of made it public the future of Dalai Lama institution. When my age reaches like first Dalai Lama, like 84 then I'm going to consult religious leaders of various traditions. I already asked, some kind of preparation or discussion among concerned people including Mongolia
NDTV: So Holiness it has become a political issue though you don't want to do, China is very, very upset it that have a bureau for laws of reincarnation to decide who the next Dalai Lama will be, and they keep saying that people in foreign lands cannot decide who the next Dalai Lama will be. So it is a political issue and it is true Sir that even though you gave up political leadership, that you have access to world leaders like President Obama, access to super stars like Richard Gere. You stepping down as Dalai Lama will have major implications for the whole Tibet movement as well. So, it is a political question, which is why China wants to take control of the next Dalai Lama.
HH The Dalai Lama: Yes
NDTV: Do you think that there can be Laws for reincarnation?
HH The Dalai Lama: The Chinese communists who have no faith upon rebirth, they are more concerned about Dalai Lama's reincarnation than myself
NDTV: They know how powerful the Dalai Lama can be, they know how powerful it is
HH The Dalai Lama: It is quite wonderful. So sometimes I express the Chinese government to take some connection about reincarnation. Firstly they should, China should accept Buddha dharma or the ancient spiritual concept, the rebirth theory. Then the communists should recognise Mao Tse Tung's reincarnation, then Deng Xiaoping reincarnation, then they have the right of some kind of legitimacy to be concerned about Dalai Lama's reincarnation
NDTV: Some people have said Your Holiness, when you said that Dalai Lama can be a woman, but she must be attractive, they said you shouldn't have said that a spiritual leader should not have said attractive woman. Why should a woman be attractive if to be the next Dalai Lama? Were you joking when you said that?
HH The Dalai Lama: Yes I heard this. This is some complaint from some people, some female complained
NDTV: Some men also complained
HH The Dalai Lama: Anyway it is reality, you see people, you see show some nice face, so cosmetics why these things happen
NDTV: For the Dalai Lama, you are not wearing cosmetics as...
HH The Dalai Lama: For Buddhism literature it is mentioned that more effectively your body should be healthy for long life and also effective, it is also mentioned that...
NDTV: Like a wonderful smile and I have to say your smiling face Your Holiness...
HH The Dalai Lama: So similarly I sort of repeat that it is possible Dalai Lama reincarnation could be here. I have some reasons, human history and I think a hundred thousand years ago, no concept of leadership, human population was very limited. Then gradually human population increased and then farming system developed. Then you see the certain kind of concept of my land, my thing, my thing. Then certain kinds of thief or these things happened, then gradually the concept of leadership has come. Leadership at that time had no education, no rule of education, therefore in order to become leadership physical strength, that is the reality of starting male dominance. In some religions you see also influenced by some social sort of thinking. So then gradually education developed. Education brings more equal. So like this country, Indira Gandhiji and Israel and England, so on. So you see there is female leadership, very capable, very wise leadership
NDTV: America may be Hillary Clinton in America, the US have not had a woman President yet
HH The Dalai Lama: So therefore education brings more equal, now a time comes when education alone is not adequate. As I mentioned earlier we need more emphasis for promotion of human values, human compassion, in that respect according to scientists and also our own experience females have biologically more sensitivity about other's pain. So as far as promotion of human compassion, human love, female should take more serious responsibility. So now time has come leadership should help more females come. I think the world can be a saviour. In the human history most of the heroes, hero means warlord, killer or murderer actually, so most of these were male I think, except a few females, otherwise you see most of them killers are male. So now females should take more serious responsibility at promotion of human value and not only give birth, give milk and give sort of love to your own children, but must be active to promote human sort of basic values like human love, human compassion. So therefore with that reason, I also in one occasion in Paris, one women's magazine, as one reporter editor or something asked me, any possibility of one female reincarnation of Dalai Lama? Then I mentioned yes, very possible, if female comes and then more attractive. Not like that. That you see people come to see Dalai Lama, nothing to do with ideology or these things. It is fact
NDTV: But Your Holiness, why religion, even today religion promotes orthodoxy against women, even in issues like homosexuality. Why is that religious leaders across of religions would say that homosexuality is bad. What would you say about these issues?
HH The Dalai Lama: That depends upon the individual. You see beliefs, certain sort of teachings, certain sort of traditions, then better to follow their own tradition, but those non-believers provide the same, then okay, that's my view
NDTV: Live and let live. Your Holiness we also talked about your following among the people and how for Tibetans you are their leader and you are everywhere. You gave up politics and now that you are their leader, we have this sad incident of just a few weeks ago, a 16 year-old boy self immolated himself and he died saying long live Dalai Lama. China has said that see this Dalai Lama and his followers are promoting self-immolation, they don't care about the lives of the Tibetan Buddhists. A monk also immolated himself in Tibet. How do you; there has been criticism that you have not outrightly condemned self-immolation. What do you say about this?
HH The Dalai Lama: I think the first incident that happened in Tibet and which year I can't remember. One BBC reporter I met, he asked this question. Then I expressed, yes I feel very sad and I also expressed how such drastic sort of actions, you know they criticize, that also is difficult. Then the remaining family they heard Dalai Lama something sort of a negative attitude. One relative who sacrificed their own life, I think they feel tremendous sort of sadness, so I don't want that and then naturally I cannot encourage actions like that. So then the best thing is keep quiet. Let the Chinese, whatever they want to say let them say
NDTV: Do you feel Your Holiness that may send out the wrong message and maybe some young people may think that if you keep silent, that is a tacit approval? Do you think stronger words may help from your side?
HH The Dalai Lama: And also this is a very, very sensitive political issue. Now I'm an old monk, already retired, better remain low-key silence
NDTV: Well so we have so many young people here and they have questions for you Your Holiness, and let me just go across to Ayushi Chauhan who is here. Ayushi go ahead with your question
Ayushi: His Holiness my question to you is how would you confront your hatred to establish peace at the time when Chinese Government refers to you as a dangerous?
NDTV: I think somebody in China has called you a Devil also, so how do you react to when you're called a devil?
HH The Dalai Lama: Fun, quite fun. When I first heard that I was in Italy with some Mayors who usually support our case, so I was with them. Then we sort of met some media people, they asked me what is your reaction, some Chinese officials describe you as a demon? Then I immediately reacted yes I am a demon with horns
NDTV: Also Your Holiness, in the rest of the world you are called a rock star. Do you feel that when you have superstars surrounding you? Do you find that, as I said, when world leaders want to meet you? That you go to rock music festivals, do you sometimes feel that you are distracted from the path of Buddhism? Sometimes this is interesting when superstars come and bow before you
HH The Dalai Lama: I always used to say that I am one of the 7 billion human beings. As I mentioned earlier we are social animals. You see each of the 7 billion human beings should have sense of responsibility, wellbeing of humanity. So I always consider myself as another human being. I never consider I am His holiness Dalai Lama. Publicly I mentioned that if I have too much stress as Dalai Lama, then out of 7 billion human beings I am the only Dalai Lama then I get the feeling of loneliness. When I consider I am a human being, one of the 7 billion human beings, then plenty of brothers, sisters are there. I really feel much happy and then also practically, if in this sort of this kind of a meeting I would consider I am a holy person and too much formality, then that itself will dig a barrier between our sort of cross connection. When I acted like human being, then what do you think, oh, holy person, that mentally emotionally you feel some distance, isn't it? I also, you see when I used to meet some leaders with too much formality then I feel tireless, so then I look at the watch and then it's time to go, time to go. Then in person even beggar patients showing human sort of a face smile and talk like human brothers and sisters. Then you see I really feel very happy like that, so therefore out of my own experience I used to see like another human being, nothing special. This is my selfish reason isn't it?
NDTV: Your Holiness you had no choice, in a sense you were anointed, you were the Dalai Lama at the age of 2 years old. This has been your whole life. Do you ever think what if it was different? Do you ever think what you would want to be if you weren't Dalai Lama?
HH The Dalai Lama: Not relevant, this question. Already I choose to be Dalai Lama. So with that name, you seem initially...
NDTV: As a little boy it must have been difficult?
HH The Dalai Lama: With that name, you see, people get some kind of curiosity, what kind of Dalai Lama? Then as time passes, become more acquainted, then lots of people know what kind of person. Then I feel real human contact. That is the best way, I think, to serve others, bring conviction. I'm always telling I have a certain sort of useful experience. As a human being then my experience can be shared with other people. If I am a special person then my experience cannot be shared with other people, isn't it? So now, eventually, many people, recently I was in Mayo Clinic, one doctor asked me how to address you. Then I told him, you simply call me brother. That is much easier. See sometimes people trying to address me as His Holiness, sometimes they mistake His Excellency, sometimes His Highness, so complicated. Simply call brother, wonderful
NDTV: Final question, Your Holiness, in your next life what would you like to be reborn as?
HH The Dalai Lama: The First Dalai Lama, when he got, I mean, very old, 80 years, then some of his disciples, he is top scholar and practitioner, also students, top scholar, many top scholars then they express to Dalai Lama as their teacher that now you are ready to go to some heaven, heavenly sort of place. Then the Dalai Lama expressed, respond, I have no desire. My only desire is reborn in a lot of pain, lot of suffering, where I can be some help. And I read that part of his, what is it called, autobiography. I really stuck that. Then my daily prayer and practice, so long as it remains, so long as suffering remains, I will remain in order to be of some help, some service, some service. That is my wish. In any ways I am quite sure in my next life, somewhere, some opportunity to serve, some help then I feel the purposeful life. So...
NDTV: Well of course, in this life your message of world peace is more important, at a time like today thank you so much for spending time with us today.
HH The Dalai Lama: Now you, young India, you really have great potential to promote peace to inner peace. An ancient psychology, really very, very rich. Maybe sometimes too bold I describe, compare ancient India psychology, modern Indian psychology looks like a kindergarten kid in front of that. Ancient Indian knowledge of human mind, knowledge of human emotions, it talked of how to tackle these destructive emotions, was highly developed. But modern Indian psychology, has none of these things. I always describe ancient Indians as our gurus, modern Indian is too much westernized, not our guru. However, it is your tradition. All Nalanda masters of knowledge, wonderful knowledge, practical knowledge, which today's world needs where mental crisis, moral crisis is there. The ancient Indian knowledge is the only method to cure that. So therefore, you young Indians should know these things. And therefore you should pay more attention to your thousand year old your real knowledge. As far as knowledge about the modern world, modern education, wonderful you coming to that. But plus that, plus you should pay more attention to your thousand year old knowledge. Knowledge about the inner world is very important. I think this nation and only this nation can combine ancient knowledge and modern knowledge, combine and build healthy human beings, healthy individuals, healthy families, healthy communities and finally you see a healthy world. So you have a very important opportunity and responsibility. This I really feel, by folding of hands, please young Indians, male, female, you should pay more attention to your thousand-year traditions. This is silly reason, if you pay more attention then we become your gurus
NDTV: Thank you so much Your Holiness. It was a great honour. It was our special privilege to have you. Thank you very much.