The Dalai Lama took time to address audience questions during the April 30 inaugural event for MIT’s new Center for Ethics and Transformative Values. Highlights from his responses, partly conveyed through a translator, appear below:
On learning from past leaders, specifically former President Bush:
On the level of a human being, as a human being, I love your former president: Bush. Very straightforward! Sometimes politicians… they take too much pride. President Bush—not like that. And, he wants to be a very close friend, so I love him. Very straightforward. But then, his vision—I don’t know. And his approach—that also, I don’t know. Very bad foreign relations. So, in one sense, I express I love you! But at the same time, so far as his policies are concerned, I have some reservation.
On how a person who works for a weapons-manufacturing company can act to create positive examples:
That is a very difficult situation. Our aim should be to demilitarize the world. Until that is achieved… we practice inner disarmament. External disarmament is difficult.
On the comparison between Native Americans and Tibetan people:
Many Native Americans were killed by European immigrants… One time, in Frankfurt at a meeting, a Native American as a representative of a native tribe gave a very long message. The organizers of the meeting had told me that my speech should be short. I obeyed. But the representative spent almost an hour—very, very long. Many grievances, lots of past suffering. And then he mentioned that all white people should exit from the North American continent. Is that justice? Or reality? The past is past. For many people, especially now, there is much suffering… think of in Muslim countries. But there is no use going over the grievances because the past is the past. It is not in our hands.
On his relationship with the Chinese government:
In spite of the problems and the suffering, still I have been [so open] with the Chinese government. I remain open….The Chinese leaders should look for a broader perspective….They can be narrow-minded, and they can sometimes act like a child, childish! …One monk I know, he got arrested and put in a Chinese gulag for 18 years… When I met with him later, he mentioned that in the 18 years in the Chinese gulag, he faced some danger. I asked, “Danger of [losing] his life? What kind of danger?” He said: “Danger of losing compassion toward the Chinese.” He cherished compassion.