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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Dalai Lama's plea for peace -- and retirement

October 26, 2010

Sandro Contenta
The Toronto Star
October 22, 2010

He calls himself a simple Buddhist monk, yet he
fills the Rogers Centre with as many people as the Blue Jays.

Chuckling and telling stories like a grandfather
around the dinner table, the 14th Dalai Lama
captivated an estimated 15,000 people Friday with
thoughts about world peace, "inner values" and
the need to overcome conflict with dialogue.

He also spoke of himself: "I’m certainly not the
best Dalai Lama of the 14, and certainly not the
worst. But I am a popular Dalai Lama," he added
with a contagious laugh that left his audience roaring.

He sat on a white, throne-like chair at the
centre of a stage, wrapped in his familiar red
and gold robes. He donned a visor to block the
glare from the bright lights, and let out a
laugh. "I am very happy once more to come here as
an honorary citizen of Canada," he said, opening
a talk entitled, "Human approaches to world peace."

His appreciation for Canada was followed by a
gentle push. Noting the gap between rich and
poor, he called on Canadians to do more to fight poverty.

Tibet’s spiritual leader and head of its
government in exile also chastised countries that
blocked a new climate change agreement at the
U.N. Copenhagen summit last December. He didn’t
name Canada, but the position of Prime Minister
Stephen Harper’s government at the summit was
sharply criticized by environmentalists.

"At the Copenhagen summit, some important
countries (thought) national interests are more
important than global interests. This is a pity," he said to loud applause.

Young people were the majority of the audience
and the Dalai Lama -- who is in Toronto until
Monday -- had a special message for them.

"You, the younger generation who belongs to the
21st century, have many responsibilities to bring
some peace to the world, some compassion to the
world. The main responsibility is on your shoulders."

In the war-torn first half of the 20th century,
the Dalai Lama said, governments used force to
settle differences. Too often, national
boundaries were used to obscure "the oneness of
human beings -- that (there is) not much
difference between this nation and that nation."
Overcoming the sometimes violent divide requires dialogue.

The Dalai Lama used his own life as an example "
in 1949 China took control of Tibet and in 1959 he was forced to flee to India.

"At 16 I lost my freedom, at the age of 24 I lost
my own country. Now, at 75, what I learned is the
power of talk. In the spirit of dialogue, you
can’t (have) one side (that is) defeated and one
side win. Open your hearts; consider others."

No one is beyond talking to, he added. After the
9/11 attacks, he said he urged dialogue with
Osama Bin Laden to understand "what really is his complaint."

Attendees were full of praise.

"I loved how jolly he was," said Renee Lo Iacono,
a writer who came from New York. "People say you
laugh and giggle when you’re enlightened like
him. You can just see how happy he is, despite his trials and tribulations."

Musician Matt MacLean, 23, said simply: "He gave me a lot of hope."

The Dalai Lama answered questions submitted by
people on-line, including whether the next,
reincarnated Dalai Lama can be female.

The purpose of reincarnation is to serve Buddha.
So, "if a female reincarnation is more useful --
why not?" He suggested there were two advantages
to a female Dalai Lama. One is that
"biologically, females are more sensitive (than
males) about others’ pain.” The other, he joked,
is that she would be more attractive.

In any event, he made clear he was hoping for a break from his job.

"I’m looking forward to complete retirement," he
said, laughing. "If I have human rights, I should have the right to retire."
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