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Dalai Lama condemns capitalism

May 23, 2010

By VERENA DOBNIK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, May 21, 2010

NEW YORK - The Dalai Lama on Thursday declared that he is still a
Marxist in spirit who condemns capitalism as a system whose main goal is
"how to make profit."

Marxism has "the only economy system expressing concern of equal
distribution (of wealth); that is moral ethics," the Tibetan Buddhist
leader told a news conference at the start of a four-day New York visit.

The 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke minutes before his
afternoon teaching session at Radio City Music Hall on the stage that
hosts the dancing Rockettes every Christmas.

Tickets for each of six such sessions -- two a day starting Thursday
morning -- sold for $20 to $60 apiece. But several Internet sites were
reselling them at prices nearing $700.

Asked what he thought about people having to pay to hear his spiritual
lectures, he said: "This is up to organizer. I have no connection."

He then said that he always asks organizers of his worldwide appearances
that any tickets be "cheap" and that he personally never accepts
payment. In addition, some of the proceeds from the events go to hunger
relief and other charities, he said.

However, to laughter, the Dalai Lama added that after his teaching
sessions, certain organizations do "look a little wealthier."

He said some friends tell him not to mention that "still, I am Marxist"
-- because he believes the goal of many Western democracies is "only how
to make profit," creating economic inequalities that contribute to
social ills.

But in practice, he added, Marxism as applied by authoritarian
governments, such as China's, is oppressive, because it lacks an
independent judiciary, a free press and human rights for his fellow
Buddhists in Chinese-governed Tibet.

Thousands of Tibetans rose up against Chinese rule in 1959, and the
Dalai Lama was forced to escape to India with his followers. He's now
the political leader of Tibet's exiled government.

On Thursday afternoon at Radio City Music Hall, the Dalai Lama planned
to speak about the philosophical concept of emptiness and the way to
enlightenment. Four more teaching sessions were planned for Friday and
Saturday.

On Sunday at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Dalai Lama was to
participate in an interfaith discussion titled "Kinship and its Meaning
in Our World Today."

He said he believes followers of all religions should respect one another.

"Islam was also created by God," he said, letting out a giggle when
several reporters appeared surprised.

He came to appreciate Muslims during his 50 years living in India, he
said. And now, when "the terrorists come from Pakistan," most Muslims
still deserve respect.

As he left the site of the briefing, in a basement room of the hall, a
beaming Dalai Lama assured reporters that despite his view of
capitalism, he enjoys being in the world's financial capital.

"I love New York!" he exclaimed.
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