Special Feature

The Dalai Lama Speaks

As he meets with President Obama, what does the Dalai Lama have to say about the suffering of the Tibetan people?


1. What is life like for the Tibetans still living in China?

"Tibetans within Tibet live in constant fear, and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them. Their religion, culture, language and identity are near extinction."

(March 2009)

2. How bad is it?

"The Tibetan people are regarded like criminals, deserving to be put to death."

(March 2009)

3. How did this situation begin?

"Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet. By 1950, more than 5,000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed."

(March 2009)

4. And how did you finally get out?

"Accompanied by a small party of Tibetan government officials… I escaped into exile in India. Thereafter, nearly 100,000 Tibetans fled into exile in India, Nepal and Bhutan. During the escape and the months that followed, they faced unimaginable hardship."

(March 2009)

5. And what are your feelings about the Chinese?

"From time immemorial, the Tibetan and Chinese peoples have been neighbors. In [the] future too, we will have to live together. Therefore, it is most important for us to co-exist in friendship with each other."

(March 2009)

6. Peaceful co-existence is obviously preferable, but what if that does not happen?

"We must also prepare ourselves well in case the Tibetan struggle goes on for a long time. For this, we must focus primarily on the education of our children and the nurturing of professionals in various fields."

(March 2009)

7. What’s the solution?

"Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People's Republic of China."

(March 2009)

8. Why do you maintain your philosophy of non-violence?

"Because violence can only breed more violence and suffering, our struggle must remain non-violent and free of hatred. We are trying to end the suffering of our people — not to inflict suffering upon others."

(December 1989)

9. Define peace.

"Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts — differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means: through dialogue, education and knowledge."

(November 2006)

10. And finally, how does Buddhism inform your world view?

"Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion — even for those we consider our enemies — I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility, with or without religion."

(December 1989)

Each edition of “Read My Lips” presents quotes made by the featured individual at the time specified in the answers. However, it is a “virtual” interview only — in that we have added the questions in order to provide context for the thoughts expressed.

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