Dalai Lama seeks new vision from Scots
THE Dalai Lama, who began his six-day visit to Scotland on Saturday, has said that the country’s devolution settlement could prove a useful model for a form of government which would bring peace to his homeland of Tibet.
The Tibetan leader said there were many parallels between Scotland and Tibet, and that a form of devolved government may pave the way to a peaceful solution for the Tibetan people in their dispute with China.
"I think so. Scotland has its own tradition, its own heritage, something unique in its identity there.
"The UK works in different parts and with different accents, like in Scotland. These differences are not imposed but come from nature and fit the local people. These things give that uniqueness of identity."
As leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile for more than 50 years, the Dalai Lama is still trying to build negotiations with the People’s Republic of China.
He has withdrawn from any demand for total independence but still seeks an autonomous Tibet which will protect traditions, culture, language and the Buddhist tradition.
But with Chinese settlers now outnumbering the six million ethnic Tibetans, any new solution will have to embrace diversity.
Here, too, the UK and Europe can be a useful example, he said: "At one time in Europe, it was all about sovereignty and complete independence. Now people don’t so much care about complete sovereignty.
"So I think the idea is different ethnic people united for common interest, common benefit, common good, remaining under one country. I think this is very good. Individual autonomy can remain within the union."
"It is very important not to forget the bigger picture, the common interest of the whole. This, I think, is not only now relevant to some individual countries but to the whole world, to think in the global sense. Each country should consider itself to be a member of that whole humanity."
On Saturday the Dalai Lama addressed more than 9,000 people at the SECC in Glasgow.
His talk had a strong anti- sectarian flavour, emphasising that a warm heart and good conduct were more important than differences in religion and belief.
Sitting cross-legged on a golden chair with a backdrop of trees and vases of orchids, he pleased listeners with his modesty.
Interviewed the next morning, after his customary nine hours of sleep and four hours of meditation, the man regarded as a threat by one of the most powerful countries on Earth was characteristically disarming.
"I am just a person, a human being, do not expect too much. Indeed I am very, very happy to be here with you. I think many of you come here to listen to my talk out of curiosity. That’s perfectly all right, very good. I have nothing to offer, not some special thing."
The Dalai Lama is giving Buddhist teachings at the SECC for three days before coming to Edinburgh on Tuesday evening.
The 14th Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959, when he fled the Chinese invasion, will address the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, followed by a private meeting with MSPs.
He will also visit Dunfermline Abbey and the Usher Hall on Thursday, and will be seen by at least 28,000 people during his visit.
As many as 15,000 people are expected to attend a free event in Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline on Thursday morning, when the Tibetan leader and Nobel laureate will meet local schoolchildren and lead prayers for world peace.
The Dalai Lama said he found the current resurgence of religion as a factor in global unrest "very sad".
"It’s like with food. Even in one family, there is one member who wants spicy and another who doesn’t. I think it is foolish to create a quarrel on a basis of ‘I like this’ and ‘you like that’. To fight on this basis is foolish. We have full democracy, liberty, freedom of thought. There is much more harmony. Protestant and Catholic are the same. They all follow Jesus Christ and the Trinity and the Ten Commandments, so what is the problem? There is no need for this distinction.
"Some like Protestant, some Buddhist, some are complete atheist. No-one has the right to impose a religion. Not only no right, but also, practically, this is causing trouble. Making quarrels."
As a religious leader, the Dalai Lama often stresses the importance of keeping the faith of your own country, rather than converting to another religion - an understandable reaction from a man who regards his own country as having been occupied.
Nonetheless, he welcomes the thousands of westerners who have become Buddhist, including more than 6,000 in Scotland.
"Some individuals really do not have much interest in their own tradition, or they have no tradition at all, or they have an interest, a curiosity, about Buddhism. Some have a dissatisfaction with materialistic life and perhaps Buddhism is one of the choices.
"If they want to practise the Dharma, my suggestion is study. First, know before you make a decision. Have the knowledge of what Buddhism is and of the whole structure. It is not just to recite a few prayers. It is not sufficient.
"I think it is much better to study the whole thing, get a sense, then start to practise, otherwise sometimes without knowing the whole system, it is a fashion only - a few prayers, a few meditations with some expectation of change, some kind of improvement in a short period. It won’t be that. That I think is really a waste of time and a waste of energy."
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Monday 20 May 2013
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