Join our Mailing List

"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

'Companies need hearts and brains'

July 6, 2009

By Jörg Eigendorf
Welt Online - July 04, 2009 17:45

Buddhism, economics and management are all interconnected. The Dalai Lama
believes the financial crisis is a moral crisis. Jörg Eigendorf spoke with
the Tibetan spiritual leader in his Indian exile.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama spoke to WELT ONLINE in an
exclusive interview (Picture: Reuters) Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama spoke to WELT ONLINE in an exclusive interview (Picture: Reuters)
WELT ONLINE: In your opinion the free market isn't performing well, and you
also don't believe in regulation. So what it is that we need?

Dalai Lama: I call it a "responsible free market economy". In the end it
comes down to every single individual; it is dependent on each individual's
sense of moral responsibility, self-discipline, and values. This financial
crisis isn't purely a crisis of the market economy, but rather a crisis of
values.

Alright, so the first thing we must do is send all government leaders and
chief executives of large companies to Buddhist convents so that they may
learn self-discipline and gain some morals.

Dalai Lama: (laughs): Three-week seminars in our convents won't achieve
much. It would be like laying a piece of ice on a rock - a little while
later the rock would be wet, but nothing more. The rock will still be there.
No, it's unrealistic to expect a rapid systematic change in the global
economy. The changes need to happen within each individual person and within
the companies. This is dependent on the efforts we make in people's
education; this is about beginning in Kindergarten and not about a few
weeks' worth of discussions.

So what you are saying is that not only mathematics, history and languages
need to be focused on in school, but that morality, ethics and religion need
to be taught in a much greater scope.

Dalai Lama: History, math, languages and economics - these are all subjects
for the brain. But responsibility - moral responsibilities, responsibilities
regarding society - these are things that come from the heart. This,
combined with the power of the brain, is what governments and large
companies need. I will give you an example: we Tibetans believe that our
national issue with China can only be resolved non-violently. This is what
we preach from Kindergarten onwards throughout the entire education of an
individual. When a Tibetan is confronted with a conflict, his reaction
should immediately be: "How can I resolve this in dialogue?" It is important
to us that young people in our schools understand that violence is the wrong
way, that violence cannot solve problems. This attitude has become a part of
many Tibetan's lives through education and training. The same needs to occur
in regards to economy and justice.

How many decades or centuries will it take until we are really ready for a
"responsible free market economy"?

Dalai Lama: This financial and economic crisis will help it to happen
faster, because those people who only think about money - even dream about
it - are affected the most by it. The crisis is terrible for many people,
but it also shows the value of money is limited and the insecurity is huge.
Inner values like friendship, trust, honesty and compassion are much more
reliable than money - they always bring happiness and strength.

But only few people are promoted because they value friendship, trust and
compassion. Isn't your approach a little idealistic?

Dalai Lama: What you are saying is one of the greatest contradictions. Those
who assert themselves often have very little morale, and those who have a
good sense of morale often don't know how to assert themselves. This
problem, by the way, is much larger in socialism than in economics. Often
times the incompetent were leaders and governed and constricted the
competent. We saw what happens then. A company that behaves the same way
will fail because it wastes so much potential and will never develop its own
values.

Every good CEO has prerequisites for a suitable successor, yet finding your
successor is much more complicated and extensive. Do you worry about it?

Dalai Lama: No, it's not so difficult. As a simple monk I don't need a
successor when I die. And in regards to the role of the Dalai Lama as a
government leader: I ceded all of my governmental responsibilities eight
years ago - we have an elected government, so this is also not a problem.
This leaves the question of a successor of the Dalai Lama as a spiritual
leader. In 1969 I said the Tibetans need to decide themselves whether there
will be a 15th Dalai Lama. I gave suggestions, but I cannot and do not want
to get more involved than that.

Can you understand that leaders all over the world would like to meet with
you - but don't - in order to prevent endangering their economic relations
with China?

Dalai Lama: I think it is fine when a politician weighs all of the options
and comes to the decision that abides by the nation's interest. However,
many politicians make it too easy for themselves - for them it is only about
their own companies earning as much money as possible. Is this a terrible
problem for me? Not really. My main interest is to promote human values like
harmony, responsibility and charity. To do so I need to speak with people,
not their leaders. If a government leader wants to meet with me for
spiritual reasons, I'd be glad to meet with them. If they don't, then they
don't, and there is no problem with that. I don't travel the world only for
my people and the question of Tibet's future - I want to reach as many
people as I can.

Dalai Lama: China has developed enormous power. It is the evidence for how
well an economy can develop better under more freedom on a corporate level.
What China is missing, however, are values its society can rely on. The
standards that were relevant before the communist revolution are long gone.
And what has taken their place? Nothing but money. The communist elite only
think about power and money, and this can be very destructive.

Religion, states and economy have grown increasingly apart. Do you really
believe that religious leaders such as yourself and the pope can change the
world for the better?

Dalai Lama: I do not travel the world as a religious leader. I am a simple
person, a simple monk. Sure I have more opportunities because I am welcomed
as the Dalai Lama and because I have gathered a lot of experience in my 50
years of living in exile. These are experiences I can share with people. But
the moral principles we are talking about here give me an inner strength,
and inner strength gives me inner peace. This is how I hope to reach out to
people.

How do you feel about staying in five-star hotels when you travel abroad?

Dalai Lama: To be honest, I don't feel comfortable in large hotel rooms.
Sometimes I think there could be a ghost in the room (laughs). This is why I
always ask to be accommodated humbly and simply. I like places I stay in to
be modern, clean and comfortable. But most of the time I cannot influence
where I stay.

Don't you get a guilty conscience when you stay in luxury accommodations?

Dalai Lama: Why should I? When feel good, I can do more for others. But of
course it hurts me when I see poor people. Once when I was going to bed in
Vienna I saw a man lying on the street outside, and when I woke up in the
morning he was still there. I sent him fruits and bread; even though I know
it will only temporarily ease his agony.

When was the last time you were unfair or unjust?

Dalai Lama: (Thinks): Sometimes I lose my patience, but then I apologize. It
happens sometimes.

You have written books about how damaging anger is, and still you get angry
sometimes?

Dalai Lama: Of course. It is not about eliminating anger, but rather finding
the cause for it and working against it. If you do not understand where the
anger comes from and don't work against it, the anger will grow. Anger is a
destructive emotion which is based on arrogance. This is why one must find
the cause and counteract it.

You possess neither a credit card nor a bank account. Are there any objects
that you really need, ones that you can't live without? Like for example
your home exercise equipment?

Dalai Lama: No, there is nothing I can't live without. I learned this
attitude when I was a child.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank