His Holiness discusses Buddhism with Chinese scholars and students
The panelists spoke on wide range of topics which include ‘Buddhism in Late Imperial China’, 'Revival of Buddhism in China and its implication’, 'Forgiveness, Peacemaking and Reconciliation: a Buddhist Perspective’ and ‘Buddhism and Environmentalism.’ The panelists were Dr. Ann Waltner, Dr. Mark Umbriet and Dr. Christine Marran from the University of Minnesota, and writer Li Jiangling and Zhen Wang, a PhD candidate.
Speaking on the historical development relating to human values, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said the interest in Buddhist science would continue to grow among scientists. He felt that the Buddha's message of thoroughly investigating everything, even his teachings, before accepting them would continue to be relevant in all the societies, including China.
Some of the issues raised during the discussion were on the increasing interest in Tibetan Buddhism in China, the active interest in Buddhism among the younger generation and the decline of monasticism.
One of the panelists feels that Tibetan Buddhist temples seemed to have “soul” while the Chinese Buddhist temples are “soulless”. Another panelist said how Buddhist teaching had changed his life and work.
Answering a question on what he had learned in terms of political leadership from meeting with politicians like French and American presidents, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said as a simple Buddhist monk he did not have any political training. But what he learned was the importance of honesty and transparency saying that hypocrisy often destroys people’s trust.
His Holiness talked about his discussions, in the early 1970s, with British writer Felix Green, a friend of Chinese leader Zhou Enlai, who subscribed to the official Chinese viewpoint on Tibet but after prolonged discussion, he finally changed his attitude after realizing that he was fed one-sided information.
His Holiness referred to himself as a Marxist but not a Leninist saying that many Buddhists in India and Sri Lanka were also Marxists.
He said that Mao Zedong was a revolutionary in his early years but during 1950s that purity had vanished and many enthusiastic Tibetans who had joined the Communist Party in the 1930s had waned their interest and enthusiasm in mid 1950s when faced with the China’s brutality.
Responding to a question, His Holiness expressed the need for thorough and unbiased investigation into the 2008 riots in Tibet as reports about new and unknown faces to local people were found to be participating in the riots.
His Holiness also talked about the progress in his contacts with the Chinese leadership in Beijing from 1978 to the period of re-establishment of contact in 2002 and the nine rounds of talks to date. He said that among other Chinese leaders, Hu Yaobang had been very open and that the Tibetan issue would have been resolved had he still lived.
His Holiness then said he generally divided the modern Chinese period into four eras: Mao Zedong era during which ideology was given importance; Deng Xiaoping era where accumulating money was given importance; Jiang Zemin era during which the Party changed from representing the working class to including the Middle class and others; and Hu Jintao era has given importance to a harmonious society.
“The developments during these four eras indicate that even though it is the same Communist Party, new thinking has developed according to the new reality,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama saying that he knew very well the father of Xi Jinping who is a coming leader of China.
All the questions were from Chinese attendees and His Holiness appreciated their presence and interest shown in the discussion. He urged them to study hard and not to forget their motherland.
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