The world’s religions must make a greater effort to promote basic human values, the Dalai Lama said during the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists, who has lived in exile from Chinese-occupied Tibet since 1959, criticized the Parliament for not contributing enough to world peace.
The Dalai Lama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, said “I feel that such an organization should make more commitment and, wherever possible, make some contribution for peace.”
Many local leaders in conflict-ridden areas only saw their own immediate surroundings, and were blinded by emotion when they saw the hatred and suffering of their own communities, he said. So outside religious leaders of different faiths should form delegations to visit those areas and help their colleagues there to get a broader perspective and “help them reduce their emotions.”
The Tibetan Buddhist leader, who spends four hours every morning meditating on compassion and altruism said reconciliation and dialogue were “the real ways to solve problems, whether at family, community or global level.”
“When there is some problem or conflict, there is no concern about the other side due to lack of a human sense of care. So we must promote a human, warm heart, not (necessarily) through prayer and meditation but through educating ourselves,” the Dalai Lama said, describing this as “secular moral ethics.
Answering questions about the Chinese role in Tibet, the Dalai Lama said no Tibetan today wanted independence from the People’s Republic of China.
“We are not seeking independence, irrespective of our history. No Tibetan is hoping for a return of the old way of life. We need modern technology, progress and material development. We might get greater benefit for material development if we remain within the People’s Republic of China.”
The Chinese government continued to believe the Dalai Lama was agitating for independence “because of their over-suspicion and fear” and because they considered him a tool of Western anti-Chinese forces.
“We just want the basic right of self-determination, to be given meaningful autonomy, and the preservation of our own culture and spirituality,” which is facing extinction, he said.
“Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some form of culture genocide is taking place,” the Dalai Lama said. “That is good for neither Tibet nor China because Tibetan Buddhist spirituality and culture are not only among the most ancient in the world but also very relevant for today’s world.”
He said he welcomed better relations between China and Western countries.
“Only through closer relations with China can you help them reduce their over-suspicion, ignorance and fear ? But at the same time you should be firm on and make clear (your views on) matters of principle such as human rights, democracy and freedom of religion.”
South Africa’s President, Thabo Mbeki, was criticized after refusing to meet one on one with the Dalai Lama, reportedly as a result of pressure by senior Chinese politician Li Peng. According to the Sunday Independent in South Africa, it was suggested Mr. Mbeki couldn’t refuse because of China’s huge market potential.