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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

‘My successor can be a woman’

January 23, 2008

Harmony Siganporia
Monday, January 21, 2008


At the ongoing Tibetan festival in Ahmedabad, the Dalai Lama said he is
both a feminist and a humanist

AHMEDABAD: The moment he holds your hand, you can't help but believe
that there is goodness in this world; goodness enough to make the
staunchest cynics among us re-evaluate their stance. The Dalai Lama is
an unassuming, modest man who goes out of his way to put people at ease.

And his laughter is contagious. Even while discoursing on serious
topics, his legendary sense of humour is ever apparent, and he deploys
it with frequency.

"My penchant for laughter might well be genetic," he says. "My siblings
laugh as much as I do; apart from a brother who can be quite serious at
times. I think as a people, Tibetans are more jovial by nature than
most. This is a natural form of resilience. People in West don't laugh
nearly enough - neither do some Indians, for that matter."

"Barriers aren't natural. We impose them. I never distance myself from
people; whether that person is President Bush or a leper. There is in us
all the same capacity for compassion, the same mental potential to
understand the nature of our reality," he says, adding that this is the
reason he finds it so easy to relate to people.

Recently, he spoke about the possibility of the next Dalai Lama being a
woman. "As far as reincarnation in the form of a woman is concerned — it
is not a new phenomenon. None of the Dalai Lamas thus far have been
women, but that might be because the need of the hour was different. If
a woman is more useful to 'Buddhadharma' and Tibet, in the present
context, I see no reason why she can't be the Dalai Lama.
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And as I often say, if the next Dalai Lama is a woman, she will be much
more attractive than the present one," he says characteristically.

About whether he is a feminist or a humanist, the Dalai Lama says, "I
think I am both. At the dawn of humanity, human beings were all
considered equal. With the need for physical protection came the
necessity of physical strength, which men have more of.

This led to the oppression of women. However, with the concept of
education the mind was now privileged over mere physicality, and with
that became available a new equality for the sexes. Today education
alone isn't sufficient. Compassion is what is called for, and I believe
women naturally have more of it. They are more sensitive to suffering.
Women's role in humanity is now more important than ever before.

To a query whether his 'middle-way approach' which seeks autonomy for
Tibet as opposed to freedom from China effectively puts paid to any
chance the coming generations of Tibetans have of seeking complete
independence, he said,

“Tibet has always belonged to the Tibetans. It always will. The future
of this country depends solely on their wishes. Materially, Tibet is a
very poor country. Spiritually though, we are one of the most advanced
nations.”

“If the Chinese treated Tibetans fairly and allowed them the freedom to
practice their religion and perpetuate their culture, I'm certain the
Tibetans would not want to break away from them, for they know that
being a part of China will aid the material and technological
development of our nation. In fact, this is the reason we altered our
demand for freedom into a demand for democratic autonomy.”

“However,” he says, “that is not the case. Since Tibetans are mistreated
horrendously, over 95% of the country's population resents the Chinese
imposition.Even were I to sign an agreement with China right now, this
resentment would not disappear till China's attitude towards Tibet changes.

Ideally, Tibetans should be vested with the authority of every aspect
pertinent to Tibet —except for defense and foreign affairs.”
s_harmony@dnaindia.net
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