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

Opinion: My take on the Dalai Lama of Tibet's World View

June 16, 2010

By Bhuchung K. Tsering
ICT Blog
May 28, 2010

The visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to five
states in the United States, which concluded on
May 24, 2010, saw him undertaking activities that
are at the heart of his two fundamental
commitments of promoting human values and
religious harmony.  Through this, His Holiness
presented his world view, which is quite simple
at one level, but having the quality of thinking
outside the box, if you will, at another level.
This was best summed up by the Dalai Lama himself
in his op-ed in the New York Times on May 25,
2010, "Many Faiths, One Truth," which is
essentially the message of his just released book
"Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World's Religions Can Come Together."

Oftentimes, as part of my work here at the
International Campaign for Tibet, I have come
across people from, and working on, conflict
areas similar to Tibet who want to know the
reason why the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans seem
to strike a chord among the American public. Part
of the reason for this, I feel, lies with the Dalai Lama's world view.

I talked about the levels in the Dalai Lama's
messages. In fact, the need to think at different
levels and generating the capability to
prioritize them were the consistent subtext in
the Dalai Lama's enunciation of his world view
during his May visit.  His approach to different
religions is a case in point. He talked about the
nature of all religions to claim some kind of
exclusivism and suggested that people need to
think deeply to go beyond this superficial
perception.  He referred to the "oneness" of all
religions in that despite philosophical
differences they all convey the same messages in
attempting to make us better human beings. He
thinks that at one level there is philosophical
difference, which is a reality. At another level,
he said all religions preached the message of
compassion, love and tolerance, etc. The Dalai
Lama feels we need to prioritize by treating the
philosophical differences as secondary to the
more important common messages. This is a world
view that would certainly make all religious
practitioners rethink their approach to spiritualism.

Similarly, in terms of human values, the Dalai
Lama feels the differences in caste, creed,
color, etc. should be placed at a secondary level
to the more fundamental thinking of the sameness
of human beings, who want happiness and shun
suffering. This is a simple message but placed in
the context of the Dalai Lama's world view, it
certainly gets a greater resonance.

During his May visit that included trips to
Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and New York,
I was struck by his categorical assertion that
the world is becoming more gentle and positive.
This is quite contrary to popular feeling of the
world becoming more violent and crisis ridden.

At my own level, my impression of the world
taking a negative turn is formed by the changes
that have taken place in recent years in my own
daily life. I am seeing increased restrictions at
airports or the train stations; I have seen the
emergence of a color-coded threat level system
from the Department of Homeland Security (in fact
the very establishment of this Department is one
of the causes of this impression); and I am
constantly reading media reports about violence in many parts of the world.

Even nature has added its bit in my development
of a negative impression through the much
publicized Tsunami and the recent series of
earthquakes as well as the volcanic eruption that
disrupted travel for several days.

I had also been subscribing to the world view of
Samuel Huntington who, in his "The Clash of
Civilizations," said there will be clashes
because "The people of different civilizations
have different views on the relations between God
and man, the individual and the group, the
citizen and the state, parents and children,
husband and wife, as well as differing views of
the relative importance of rights and
responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality
and hierarchy."  From the Israeli-Arab conflict,
the broader Islamic world's outlook of the West,
to even that of the Tibetan people's own
grievances against the Chinese rulers, I felt
that people were acting on this difference.

But His Holiness was adamantly clear during his
lectures, his brief appearance on NBC's The Today
Show, and during his meetings with the press in
general that he feels the world is becoming more
positive. The indicators of his world view were
the broader human concern for man-made or natural
calamities worldwide (shown in the aftermath of
th  Asian Tsunami and the earthquakes in Haiti,
Chile and Tibet), the existence of peace
movements throughout the world (which was visible
prior to the United States' war in Iraq, for
example); the emergence of an environmental
movement (there was no such movement in the
beginning of the previous century); and the
increased interaction between science and
religion (science is showing interest in not just
external matters but also in the study of mind).
In short, through a comparison between the 20th
century and the 21st century so far, the Dalai
Lama feels the world is becoming more positive.

The Dalai Lama feels much of the blame for the
popular view of the world becoming worse should
be placed on the media, which tends to always
highlight the negative (even though it involves
only a miniscule amount of the world's total
population) while taking the positive for granted.

A world view is said to be a "framework of ideas
and beliefs through which an individual
interprets the world and interacts with it."  The
Dalai Lama's world view is based on his positive
and optimistic outlook that always takes a
broader and long-term view. What I have learnt
from the His Holiness' world view is that we
should not miss the wood for the trees.  I think
The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean of the
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New
York City, put it best on May 23, 2010 when he
referred to the Dalai Lama as the "most beloved and respected global citizen."
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