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Dalai Lama Blames Financial Crisis on Spiritual Fall (Update1)

January 13, 2009

By Michael Heath
 
Jan. 13, 2009 (Bloomberg) -- The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, blamed a lack of spirituality among people today for the global financial crisis.
 
The Buddhist monk, speaking during a weeklong religious seminar in the Indian holy city of Varanasi, told followers that “rampant corruption in the world” is due to a decline in culture and spirituality.
 
“People have become selfish and materialistic, which has led to the economic slowdown,” the 73-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said in an address at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies yesterday, Indian state-run broadcaster Doordarshan reported.
 
The U.S. housing slump that began in 2007 has developed into a worldwide crisis that forced central bankers to cut interest rates to near zero to unlock credit markets, pushed governments to bail out their biggest banks amid $1 trillion of writedowns, and sent titans like General Motors Corp. and American International Group Inc. begging for bailouts.
 
Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on the crashing stock markets and financial turmoil, said in October that money “is nothing” and the only solid reality is the word of God.
 
“He who builds only visible and tangible things like success, career and money, builds the house of his life on sand,” the 81-year-old pontiff told bishops at an assembly in the Vatican.
 
China Affected
 
The financial crisis has also affected China where economic growth may fall short of the government’s 8 percent target for creating jobs and preventing social unrest, two top officials said yesterday. Royal Bank of Scotland Plc said growth in the world’s most populous nation may slow to 5 percent this year. That would be the weakest pace since 1990 and the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
 
China accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting unrest in Tibet and seeking independence for the Himalayan region.
 
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, has campaigned for “genuine autonomy” for Tibetans within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. China says it peacefully liberated Tibet and saved its people from feudal serfdom.
 
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net.
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