Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama met Wednesday with Vietnamese business executives, answering questions on topics ranging from family happiness to tensions between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea, according to Tibet’s India-based government in exile.
In his meeting with the Vietnamese CEO's Club, the Dalai Lama also joked about Buddhism and communism and the raising of children, saying he is “too old” at 76 to start a family now, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said on its website.
Speaking on the sidelines of a gathering of Tibetan exiles called in the Indian hill-town of Dharamsala to discuss the ongoing crisis in Tibet, the exiled spiritual leader also said that it is not necessary to be religious to live by positive human values, the CTA said.
“The solution is not to become more religious, but to develop a warm heart,” the Dalai Lama said.
Asked by a mother of three children about how to make life easier for them than it had been for her at their age, the Dalai Lama joked that he had no experience of bringing up children and was too old to start now.
He said he has learned from friends that children need affection and that they need those who give it to be “constant and steady.”
Communism 'in decline'
A Vietnamese participant posing a question to the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama admitted to an attraction to Marxist economics but made clear his strong opposition to Leninist-style controls on human life and thought, saying that he had recently compared Buddhism and communism as he spoke to a group of visiting Chinese.
“The Tibetan spirit comes from Buddhism which is a more than 2500-year-old tradition in which interest is growing, your system, Chinese communism, is based on ideas that are barely 200 years old and whose influence is declining.”
A Vietnamese man, citing tensions between Vietnam and China over territorial claims in the South China Sea, said many Vietnamese would like to invite the Dalai Lama to go to one of the disputed islands to establish a monastery or temple.
The spiritual leader declined, saying, “Actually, I don’t especially favour constructing a monastery or temple, I’d prefer to see an academic centre of learning instead, somewhere that could be a focus for the study of Buddhist philosophy, Daoism and secular ethics. “
“And if such a center can be set up, it might be better in Saigon or Hanoi than on one of these islands.”
Pointing to the example of Tibetans struggling for justice and opposing Chinese actions in Tibet, the Dalai Lama stressed the need to abandon anger and hatred when working to overcome “obstructions” put in one’s way.Challenge to humanity
The meeting was held as more than 400 Tibetan delegates from 26 countries began a second day of meetings in Dharamsala held to discuss ways to address the ongoing crisis in Tibet following the self-immolation of 51 Tibetans to date in protest against Chinese rule.
In a February letter to the Dalai Lama, a high-ranking Buddhist leader detained by Vietnam’s communist government called China’s crackdown in Tibetan areas “a challenge to all humanity.”
Citing the self-immolations of Buddhist monks during the Vietnam War, Thich Quang Do, patriarch of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, called the fiery form of protest a “tragic and extreme act.”
“But there are moments when this ultimate gesture, that of offering one’s own body as a torch of compassion to dissipate darkness and ignorance, is the only possible recourse,” the 83-year-old religious leader said in his letter.
“The Buddhists of Vietnam stand beside you in this nonviolent movement for religious freedom and human rights. For without human rights, human beings can never fully and freely exist.”
Tibetan groups say the wave of self-immolation protests will continue until the underlying human rights and other problems in Tibetan-populated areas are addressed by Chinese authorities.Reported by Richard Finney.