Following an initial prayer His Holiness opened today's festival marking the fifteenth day and end of Losar, saying that "Since we are refugees, since we have been living in exile, we may have missed one year but we have celebrated Monlam every year." Expressing a deep sense of pride towards Tibet and the Tibetan people, he spoke of the preservation of Tibetan culture and also proclaimed that "We have a language with which we can study logic and epistemology, a language also compatible with Sanskrit. We should be very proud of this language."
He told the audience that one of the main issues facing the people was ignorance of the true meaning of Buddhism, saying that when he travels he always "asks many Buddhists what Buddhism is, and many of them don't have any real, good answer. (...) Most of us really do not understand and do not study Buddhism", and must make an effort to engage in good practices and live by Buddhist values.
His Holiness addressed himself to the New Arrivals from Tibet, saying that in China Buddhists had to follow strict communist rules and many had undergone Chinese re-education, adding directly, "so I'm talking to you. (...) I'm telling you, newcomers, to study Buddhism for a peaceful community." He encouraged them to not be provoked by anger, though they may be prone to do so, saying that people should instead always confront things without becoming angry and use our human intelligence to deal with problems.
Speaking of a discussion he once had with a group of scientists, His Holiness explained the unique logical nature of Buddhism by telling of how they had all realised that science and Buddhism have several things in common- relativity and the interdependent and impermanent nature of all things, and reason above faith and belief. He held that the scientists, who usually take no interest in religion, found they could understand and relate to Buddhism because it does not contain any belief of the concepts of a creator or soul.
Using Hu Jintao's misleading and unrealised concept of a ‘Harmonious Society' as a model, he declared that true harmony was what the people really needed, but that "this has to come not from fear but from winning (the people's) confidence. Harmonious Society must come from Compassion." He added that nobody wants suffering, but that through ignorance human beings often cause suffering to themselves.
Stating that "Many Tibetans have suffered untimely deaths", His Holiness also acknowledged the tragic passing on Wednesday of the young monk from Kirti Monastery, Phuntsok, who immolated himself in Amdo Ngaba in protest to Chinese suppression, and said that for these people many prayers should be dedicated.
He also recognised the fact that it is not only the Tibetan and other minority peoples enduring difficulties in China, saying that even the Chinese suffer from constant fear and anxiety and live lives of intimidation, illustrating his point with an anecdote about several Chinese people he had met in Taiwan, who felt like they were in a completely different country there and who admitted to feeling constantly constrained and fearful back in mainland China.
He criticised China for holding onto old communist ideology and not looking into ways to reform and change "in order to be on par with the rest of the world", making a comparison between the stagnant political situation in China and that of the Tibetan people by pointing out that in his lifetime "even in exile changes and progress have been made", referring to the Tibetan exile democratisation process which has given him so much pride.
"Even as a child I thought the system where one person has authority, spiritual and temporal authority, was not a good system" he said, adding that he always saw such a system as being biased, and that immediately after his enthronement he began a reform committee. He announced that he felt a great sense of achievement for the Tibetan community, in relation to the Kalon Tripa being elected by the people with no involvement from him, saying that democracy was his gift to the Tibetan people.
"I think it's not good that I, the Dalai Lama, have all the spiritual and temporal authority" he stated, reminding the audience that the first four Dalai Lamas had had no temporal authority, despite being the Tibetan people's spiritual leaders, and explaining that his wish was simply to revert back to that time by devolving his political duties. This, he explained, would allow for the continuation of the democratisation process and a government elected by the people, which would be much more meaningful. He admitted to feeling slightly constrained by his political role and said that after devolving power "I could work more for the promotion of human values and religious harmony" for Tibetans and people across the world.
His Holiness also attended to the need to reassure the Tibetan people, both inside Tibet and in exile, that "they don't have to worry" and that he is not abandoning them. He stressed the importance of forming a democratic system of government, acknowledging the trust the Tibetan people and people around the world placed in him and promising that he would still remain the Tibetan spiritual leader and support his people's struggle.
With a determined voice he declared "I am not disheartened; I have not given up on you. I am a Tibetan, from the land of snow, and every Tibetan has a responsibility (to help the Tibetan cause)". He affirmed that his decision would bring great benefits for the Tibetan people in the long-run, calling on them to "take full responsibility for this democratisation".
He then spoke about the success of democracy in India, saying that although it was a country with a huge population, many problems and a variety of different languages and cultural traditions, it was very stable as a democratic country. This was a contrast to China, he said, where authorities have to spend an enormous amount of money on internal security, to the point where it outweighs spending on external defence. He laughed, as did many in the audience, at the very idea of the need for such extravagant measures in order to maintain internal stability, expressing the view that "things are changing but they (the Communist Party) wish to stay the same".
He went on to say that China's claim that there is no ‘Tibet issue' should be seen clearly as a lie by the world, and that those in Tibet hoping for independence had a right to do so and to want the independence of their country restored, however the ‘Middle-Way Approach' was the only realistic and mutually beneficial option. He also expressed the hope that people in Tibet would be able to get news of his reassurances to the Tibetan people ahead of his handover of political authority, either by radio or through communication with Tibetans in exile, who should pass on his message of continued support and solidarity.